Anatomy Of A Decade

On Guard

By Charlotte Mulhern

Even small businesses need to take precautions when throwing a holiday party. Walter Liszka, a Chicago attorney with 25 years of labor and employment law experience, offers these tips for limiting your liability:

1. Hold the party at a commercial location. "[That way, there's] not a dual message with regard to consumption of alcohol while on company premises," he says.

2. Make attendance voluntary.

3. Express your expectations. "The employer has to communicate to the employees that they must comport themselves responsibly while at the party and should not overconsume," Liszka says.

4. Encourage employees to bring a date. That way they have a ride home in case they overimbibe.

5. Don't serve hard liquor. Limit selections to beer, wine and plenty of nonalcoholic alternatives. Even more important: Don't serve underage employees.

6. Hold the party during the week. "When people know they have to be at work the next day, there is a greater probability they will drink responsibly," says Liszka.

7. Designate a monitor. This person can observe what's going on and defuse risky situations before they get out of hand.

8. Arrange for public transportation. Should your employees get a little tipsy anyway, you can ensure they make it home safely.

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This article was originally published in the December 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Anatomy Of A Decade.

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