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Leslie Bonacum
Neil Allen

Holiday Countdown: CCH Offers Tips To Employers

 (RIVERWOODS, ILL., November 30, 2001) – Having second thoughts about staging the traditional holiday party for employees? Whether you’re concerned about the message you’re sending by hosting a lavish spread, or worried about liability issues that can result from the potentially problem-ridden holiday party, there are steps you can take, according to CCH INCORPORATED (CCH), a leading provider of human resources and employment information law, to help ensure that your efforts are a success.

Consider Your Alternatives

"There are many ways to mark the season without opening the door to criticism and employee disappointment," said CCH workplace analyst Nancy Kaylor.

Employers who decide to forgo the traditional holiday fete this year may want to consider one of the following:

  • Conduct a charitable contribution campaign, or several. Your efforts can focus on people – such as individuals, families or children –– or such things as associations/organizations, hospitals or shelters. Consider earmarking the holiday party budget for a charitable contribution.
  • Instead of an off-hours party, consider buffet or "pot luck" luncheons, dinners or breakfasts during work hours.
  • Consider providing several hours off with pay in lieu of any holiday event. The time can be scheduled with supervisors and employees can be encouraged to use that time for family activities, shopping for holiday gifts or to volunteer in worthwhile community activities.
  • Have an open house for family, preferably during non-business hours. Decorate the workplace and arrange tours for family members.
  • To celebrate the diverse holidays that occur throughout the year, serve a special lunch featuring representative holiday foods in the employee cafeteria. Decorate the room depicting each holiday’s traditions.

Keys to Celebrating Successfully With a Party

If you decide, however, that a company celebration is what you want, there are things you can do to keep the lid on liability concerns.

"Careful planning and communication are key to minimizing exposure to liability during employee festivities," said Kaylor.

Here’s a look at what employers can do to help ensure holiday party success:

    1. Designate the party as strictly a social event.
    2. Make attendance voluntary. Avoid any direct or indirect pressure to attend.
    3. Avoid holding the party during regular working hours. If you do, employees should not be on the clock.
    4. Hold the party at an off-site location.
    5. Don't label the party as a recurring event (such as a 10th annual party). That way employees won't consider the party a regular benefit of employment.
    6. Establish and publish an inappropriate behavior policy that applies to all company activities, between all coworkers.
    7. Have employees participate in planning the party.
    8. Don't serve alcohol. Excessive drinking is the most likely inappropriate employee behavior at a company holiday party, and often may be the catalyst for other problems that create liability issues for employers such as sexual harassment. If you do serve alcohol, make sure you:
  • Communicate in advance that excessive alcohol consumption will not be tolerated.
  • Have plenty of food and nonalcoholic beverages.
    • Stop serving at a specified time well before the end of the party.
    • Inform all servers they should not serve intoxicated individuals.
    • Provide alternate transportation.
    • Don't pay for drinks, or pay for a limited number using a ticket system.
    • Consider establishing a policy prohibiting the use of company funds to purchase alcohol and prohibiting supervisors from providing alcohol to employees.


CCH INCORPORATED, Riverwoods, Ill., is a leading provider of human resources and employment law information, software and e-learning. For more than 60 years, the company’s Human Resources group has set the standard as an authoritative source of employment law, including information on benefits, compensation, worker safety and human resources management. CCH is a wholly owned subsidiary of Wolters Kluwer North America. The CCH web site can be accessed at The CCH Human Resources web site can be accessed at

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