Consider liability issues if serving alcohol at company parties

The holiday office party season is upon us, but before you decide to serve alcohol at your company party this year you should be aware that there are potential legal liabilities, including injuries to your employees.

If you plan to serve alcohol, consider the following best practices to limit those legal liabilities:

• When sending out your invitations, be sure to include a statement that encourages employees to drink responsibly and in moderation at the event and to not drink and drive. Circulate another written reminder just before the party.

• Hire a professional bartending staff for the event; do not have a self-serve bar or open keg. Verify the bartending staff’s experience and ensure that they have proper insurance coverage.

• Limit the number of drinks each guest may consume or consider having a cash bar. You may wish to serve beer and wine only instead of offering a full bar.

• Always serve food so that employees are not drinking on an empty stomach.

• Offer a variety of beverages including non-alcoholic options. Consider having “mocktails”
(cocktails without alcohol) so that those who do not wish to drink can still feel included.

• Emphasize to management staff that they should lead by example and that they may need to intervene if a situation at the party crosses the line.

• Have alternate transportation, such as rented vans or cabs, available in case an employee has had too much to drink and needs a ride home.

BCN Services is here to help you. If you need assistance communicating to your employees regarding your company’s alcohol policy or if you have additional concerns about serving alcohol at your holiday party, please contact us.

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Alicia Jester, Manager-Benefits and Payroll

EPLI: What is Employment Practice Liability Insurance and why do I need it?

If you are a PEO client of BCN, your company is provided with employment practice liability insurance (EPLI), a benefit that may not be used every day, but is important nonetheless.

This specialized insurance is designed to protect against losses incurred in litigating and settling wrongful employment practices liability claims. It covers such things as discrimination, breach of contract and wrongful discharge suits, which usually are not covered by general business liability insurance.

In today’s business world, the threat of being sued is an everyday reality. The dangers are even more real if your company doesn’t’t have a dedicated human resources department or formal training to deal with myriad laws, rules and regulations that exist to protect employee rights.

Statistics show that in a bad economy employment lawsuits increase dramatically. One disgruntled worker can put your entire business at risk if he brings a lawsuit or discrimination charge against you — whether valid or not. The cost to defend the allegations alone could put your company out of business, not to mention the price you would pay if you lose.

Here are the top 5 reasons your company should have EPLI coverage:

  1. Employee lawsuits and discrimination charges are excluded under standard general liability policies;
  2. Every employer, large or small, can be the target of legal action from past, present, and prospective employees;
  3. Owners’, directors’ and officers’ personal assets can be at risk;
  4. Employees file more than 90,000 complaints each year with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission;
  5. Employees can easily file lawsuits, often with no risk or cost to them.

While you are responsible for deductibles and legal costs not covered by the policy,  BCN Services has made it easier and cost efficient in 2013 to mitigate your expenses of a claim by negotiating an arrangement with our carrier to allow us to provide the initial investigative work to our clients on EPLI claims with our law firm’s oversight, saving significantly on legal expenses.  To minimize claims, BCN’s trained and certified HR professionals will help guide you through employee relations and other compliance issues thereby greatly reducing your risk.

Remember to always report any incident which could give rise to a claim immediately to the BCN Human Resource Department by phone.  For further information about EPLI,  contact us at 800-891-9911 or click here (http:www.bcnservices.com/node/5) to leave us an electronic message.

Kate Douglass (200x174)

Kate Douglass, Senior HR Generalist