Your small business just finished its first contract and received rave reviews from the client on the amazing you did. The news is too good not to celebrate, and you decide to hold an office party. This is a time as good as any to encourage the employees and tell them that if they continue with the same level of work efficiency, they will be able to land hundreds of clients in just the first year.
Before you start planning for the party and choosing the wine list (because what office party is complete without it?), we need to ask you something:
Are you familiar with the term Employment Practices Liability Insurance? How about commercial general (CGL) policy?
Your business’s entire future rests on these two insurance policies. Most business owners try to make do with worker’s compensation, but there are a few liabilities that this policy does not cover. So put that list down and let’s have a look at the former two policies before organizing the party. Trust us when we say this, you will thank us later!
Commercial General (CGL) Policy
This insurance policy provides coverage to businesses for personal injury, bodily injury, as well as property damage caused during business operations that take place on the premises of the business. This is the most basic business insurance policy but does not cover a few risks a business might face. The policy is modified when the business brings on another entity to the team. This provides combined insurance to all the parties involved.
Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI)
Think of EPLI as worker’s compensation part 2. This policy protects the employers from all the other liabilities not covered in the CGL policy. The policy covers financial loss when an employee is ill or injured in any other way not mentioned in the worker’s compensation policy. It also protects employers against wrongful termination, claims made by employees that they have been singled out due to their race, sex, age or disability, workplace-related issues, emotional distress and more.
One of the best things about an EPLI policy is that it provides 3rd party coverage too. This coverage protects you from claims made against your employees by the clients or customers. For example, you are having an office party and one of the employees gets drunk to the point where he starts sexually harassing the guests. The guests in question here have full right to sue your company for allowing such lewd behavior.
This is where the EPLI policy comes in. It protects you from this inappropriate behavior exhibited by your employee and gives you the benefit of protecting your company and your name from repetitional harm.
Don’t Let the Liquor Do the Talking!
While an office party will definitely help you boost employee morale, you need to make sure that you are not vulnerable to any liabilities when alcohol is being served. The US Department of Labor’s take on holding an office party that involves inappropriate use of alcohol is that employees under the influence can force employers into a corner and make them vulnerable to worker’s compensation, liability under tort, as well as a few other laws.
While liquor liability law was intended for establishments such as taverns, bars, and restaurants that serve alcohol but now the same rules apply to businesses too. The good news is you can purchase a CGL policy and include liquor liability insurance in it. This insurance policy protects the employers from 2nd party and 3rd party injuries that fall on the intoxicated person and caused to another person by the intoxicated party. So, you can understand why it is important to have all these insurance policies when having an office party and serving alcohol.
Insuring Your Business from Liquor Liabilities
Following are ten tips that will keep you and your company safe from workplace lawsuits when hosting an office party where alcohol will be served:
- When designing an invitation, include a statement about the responsibilities of drinking and doing so in moderation. Don’t forget to mention the most important line: Don’t drive after drinking
- Make sure that the management receives the same notice
- Book a venue for holding the party. This will limit the extent of the liability. It’s possible that your name might be left out of the civil lawsuit if an employee harms someone after leaving the venue drunk
- Do not go with an open bar. Put a price on the drinks. This will limit the number of drinks the employees will have since they will be paying out of their pocket
- A great way to limit the number of drinks is to distribute vouchers that allow only a few drinks or serve alcoholic beverages for a short period
- Don’t stick one of the employees on bartender duty. Hire a professional as these people are trained to spot signs of intoxication
- Cut off the non-alcoholic beverages after a few hours and serve club soda and other fruity cocktails
- If minors are attending the party, make sure they are not to be served alcohol
- As the party is winding down and everyone has finished dinner, switch to tea or coffee
- If someone does consume alcohol and have a low tolerance for it, then arrange alternative transportation. Encourage employees, as well as clients to use company-provided cars. This is a great way to make them feel valued and avoid liability due to drunk driving
Before purchasing any of the policies above, talk with an insurance agent and get advice on what kind of insurance coverage you should consider, depending on the business you operate. Do you need to make any additions to existing standard policies? Are there are any limitations that will make you liable to worker’s compensation? These are just some of the things you should be asking yourself.
If you are looking for a qualified insurance agent, who holds years of experience in this field, then visit Pawson. The company provides different types of policies that can be covered under Employment Practices Liability Insurance. To know more about their policies, contact them at 203-481-8898.
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