3 Tips to Limit Your Holiday Party Liability

By Jeff Green, Principal, PROXUS

Every year around this time I’m excited to celebrate the holiday season with colleagues at the PROXUS Holiday Party. Not only is our Human Resource Management Services team a group of talented HR practitioners, but more importantly it is a group of outstanding people!     

Of course, the potential liability associated with workplace parties is not lost on me. As an entrepreneur and business owner, I am keenly aware of the risks that can arise if the “fun and festivities” get out of control.

Having said that, plan your parties and have a fantastic time! Recognizing that every organization is unique in its approach to holiday gatherings, here are three practical tips to help ensure your celebration is a safe and enjoyable one.   


Not all office holiday parties will include alcohol, but many do. From an age and consumption perspective, there are obvious risks to individuals and businesses involved with this practice. Those business owners who choose to offer alcohol can limit these risks by:

  • Using drink tickets to limit the amount of alcohol consumed
  • Hiring professional servers trained to spot intoxicated individuals and request ID from those who may be underage
  • Closing bars early enough in the evening to allow sufficient time to pass before the event ends


Holiday gatherings are a time to unwind and have fun. With that in mind, it’s still important for everyone to conduct themselves in a professional manner:

  • Be sure to reiterate the organization’s policy on acceptable behavior and conduct
  • Maintain at least a business casual attire to avoid potentially inappropriate dress
  • Remind Managers and Supervisors that they are representing the company at events and should immediately address any behavior they deem as inappropriate by colleagues and co-workers


Our Senior Compensation Consultant, Dennis Shrenk, would be upset if I did not remind you that non-exempt employees must be paid for all time worked. So:

  • Be sure you accurately capture and pay employees for time spent setting up for, working, or otherwise planning for the event
  • Stress to employees that attendance at the event is strictly voluntary and they are not required to attend
  • Remove ambiguity by informing employees that they will not be compensated for time spent at the holiday party

A few thoughtful considerations like those noted above will help ensure a fun, festive and enjoyable event while also mitigating business risks.

I wish all of you and your families a joy-filled and safe holiday season! And stay tuned for our upcoming video on Inclement Weather Compensation Considerations.

Jeff Green is a Co-Founder and Principal of PROXUS and leads our Human Resource Management Services Group.  Jeff is passionate about providing strategic advice and guidance to business leaders and HR executives, as well as developing, mentoring and empowering PROXUS’ team of HR practitioners. 

Engage with PROXUS on LinkedIn or by contacting Jeff at jgreen@proxushr.com or 215-654-9140 ext. 102.

Tags: Human Resources