Tips for hosting employer-sponsored holiday events

The Honigman Labor and Employment Department has released the following tips to reduce your company's potential liability related to holiday parties and year-end activities:

Holiday Party: Attendance cannot be mandatory at any holiday party or function. If an RSVP is necessary, the response should be to an administrative-level employee, not through a publicly visible sign-up sheet.

Donations: Employers cannot require donations or contributions for holiday gift-giving or festivities. If you are having a voluntary gift contribution, do not publicize the list of donors or amounts donated by individuals.

Gift Exchanges: Employers cannot mandate participation in gift exchanges.

Holiday Cards: Company holiday cards should be generic.

Insurance Coverage: Check your insurance policy to be sure that your workers' compensation or comprehensive general liability policy covers liabilities arising from office parties held on or off premises.

Remind Employees of Expected Behavior: Consider circulating your policies regarding substance abuse, proper etiquette, and harassment well in advance of the party to remind employees of your expectations and their obligations.

Providing Food: Also consider hiring a licensed caterer. If you use an unlicensed caterer and a guest becomes ill after eating the food, you may be liable. Licensed caterers are also insured.

Published: Thu, Nov 29, 2012