Should you serve alcohol at your holiday party?

My professional advice for serving alcohol at your work party

The garland, lights and trees are going up and that means holiday parties are on the calendar! ‘Tis the season to take a break with your team and celebrate the past year of business. Many companies across all industries celebrate the holiday season with a party. And if you’re in charge of HR or drug testing, you may be wondering what the protocol is if you want to serve alcohol at your holiday party.

As a drug and alcohol testing partner, below are my recommendations if you’re trying to decide how and if you should serve alcohol at your holiday party. This isn’t legal advice or even a requirement – it’s just my professional opinion after working with many businesses on their drug and alcohol testing needs.

If your holiday party is at the office or during business hours, do not serve alcohol

If your holiday party is going to be on your property or at the office, I recommend avoiding serving alcoholic beverages. Especially if it’s during work hours. When your party is on your premises or during hours that employees are paid to work, they will feel obligated to come – as if it were part of their job description. That’s why having alcohol at the event is a bad idea. Don’t make employees feel like they need to drink or like they had to attend a function that served alcohol. Play it safe and put away the alcohol if the party is at your place.

If you employ minors, consider a non-alcoholic party

Regardless of where your party is located, if you have minors who work for you and are invited to the holiday party, consider skipping the alcohol all together. Minors at a party where alcohol is served pose a serious risk and threat to you. If they are served (even if you host the party off-site) it could bring unwanted repercussions to you as the party host. Use your discretion, but if you have a large staff of underage teens, serve grape juice and punch.

If you are in transportation, don’t even think about serving alcohol

The DOT has very strict guidelines when it comes to alcohol and “safety-sensitive employees who operate commercial motor vehicles requiring a CDL.” If your business is centered around hiring drivers, don’t host a booze fest for Christmas. Even if drivers aren’t on duty or scheduled to be on after the party, I don’t recommend it. The DOT rules and regulations are firm and you do not want to jeopardize your company or your employees’ jobs by serving alcohol. If your drivers choose to drink at times when it’s appropriate for them, let them do it on their own terms. Don’t encourage drinking as a transportation employer.

Choose an outside restaurant if you will be serving alcohol

If you do choose to serve alcohol at your holiday party, I’d encourage you to find a restaurant or off-site location. The article below outlines why – the restaurant can be responsible for making sure minors are not served and that employees are “cut off” if they’ve appeared to have drunk too much. Even if you do host an event with alcohol, encourage employees to drink responsibly. Set an example as the party host and follow-through if your requests or requirements for alcohol consumption at your holiday party are broken.

Read some great advice about limiting your liability if you’re serving alcohol to employees.

Kansas City’s alcohol testing partner

These suggestions come after my experience of working with Kansas City businesses for their alcohol testing needs. If you’re looking for a drug and alcohol testing partner in the KC metro area, please contact my team. We provide on-site and mobile testing, meaning we’ll even come to you.

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