An image of someone filling wine glasses.

DOL Offers Tips for Office Celebrations

During the holiday season, employers and workers frequently get together to unwind and celebrate. Typically, workplace parties involve plenty of food and drinks. If the drinks include alcohol, however, there is potential for unfortunate consequences.

Whether alcohol is permitted at workplace parties or other company-sponsored events is an individual decision for each company to make. If alcohol is present, it is advisable to take precautions to help prevent workers or guests from becoming intoxicated and to discourage impaired driving.

To assist, the U.S. Department of Labor's Working Partners Web site has provided tips for how to help ensure a safe and sober party, while still creating an enjoyable and festive atmosphere.

  1. Be honest with employees. Make sure your employees know your workplace substance abuse policy and that the policy addresses the use of alcoholic beverages in any work-related situation and office social function.
  2. Post the policy. Use every communication vehicle to make sure your employees know the policy. Prior to an office party, use break room bulletin boards, office e-mail, and paycheck envelopes to communicate your policy and concerns.
  3. Reinvent the office party concept. Why have the typical office party? Try something new like an indoor carnival, group outing to an amusement park, or volunteer activity with a local charity.
  4. Make sure employees know when to say when. If you do serve alcohol at an office event, make sure all employees know that they are welcome to attend and have a good time, but that they are expected to act responsibly.
  5. Make it the office party of choice. Make sure there are plenty of non-alcoholic beverages available.
  6. Eat . . . and be merry! Avoid serving lots of salty, greasy, or sweet foods which tend to make people thirsty. Serve foods rich in starch and protein which stay in the stomach longer and slow the absorption of alcohol in the bloodstream.
  7. Designate party managers. Remind managers that, even at the office party, they may need to implement the company's alcohol and substance abuse policy.
  8. Arrange alternative transportation. Anticipate the need for alternative transportation for all party goers and make special transportation arrangements in advance of the party. Encourage all employees to make use of the alternative transportation if they consume any alcohol.
  9. Serve none for the road. Stop serving alcohol before the party officially ends.

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