Limit Employer Liability at Your Holiday Party

3 Tips for Limiting Employer Liability During Holiday Celebrations

As HR professionals, we often get asked about employer liabilities during all-company events and celebrations. Many of our clients host all-company parties around the holidays to show appreciation for all their employees have done throughout the year. Today we have some tips for limiting employer liability if you choose to have a holiday party.

Tip # 1:

While you want to ensure you are inviting all of your employees to the holiday party, do not make it mandatory for everyone to attend. This is especially important if you are hosting the event outside of working hours. It can be uncomfortable for individuals that may need to decline if they have already made other plans.

Tip #2:

Make sure you set expectations for behavior before the holiday party. This can be particularly challenging for employers that choose to serve alcohol at the party. We’ve seen a rise in claims of harassment, specifically sexual harassment, with the media coverage lately. The last thing we want to do is open up our employees to the possible risk of harassing behavior. Make sure you are setting the expectations around behavior at the party ahead of time.

Tip #3:

If you are serving alcohol at the party, make sure you set some parameters to make sure people can get home safely. There are many options to make it a safe event. Limit the number of alcoholic beverages the company is providing. Host an open bar for only part of the evening. Distribute a limited number of drink tickets per employee. If you are providing a sit-down dinner, you could close the bar during dinner. There are a variety of options for limiting the amount of alcohol consumed.

We also recommend you have a professional bartender serving the drinks. Professional bartenders can spot the signs an individual may display when they need to be cut off from consuming additional alcohol.


If you notice that someone may have been over-served, be proactive. For example, if you are in a hotel setting you may encourage them to utilize the accommodations on site. You could offer taxi or Uber instructions for safe rides home. Bottom line is – you want to make sure everyone can get home safely. Employers do not want to be held liable for employees’ actions following their holiday party.

I hope everyone has a great and safe holiday season and celebrates responsibly!

Tandem HR

Tandem HR is a Chicago Professional Employer Organization (PEO), and IRS certified PEO assisting hundreds of small and mid-sized businesses. For more information visit or call 630.468.9286.