Alcohol and office parties: What are the employer’s responsibilities?
Part of year-end festivities is the traditional office party. And parties usually involve drinking alcohol, and perhaps consuming cannabis. Will your employees be able to drive home? What are your responsibilities in this situation? It’s a good idea to think these things through when planning the party.
Drinking and driving: still all too common
Everyone knowns that drinking while impaired is a criminal act. However, many people still get behind the wheel after drinking. That’s what statistics compiled by the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) show us. In 2013, 53% of survey respondents admitted that they had driven after consuming one alcoholic drink.
1 in 5 drivers stated that they had driven after consuming two or more drinks during the preceding hour. 7% of the respondents stated that they had driven after consuming five or more alcoholic drinks during an event.
Not just legalities
The Civil Code of Québec, the Act Respecting Labour Standards, and the Act Respecting Occupational Health and Safety require employers to take the necessary measures to protect the health, safety and dignity of their employees. When your company holds a party where alcohol is served, it is responsible for its employees. But above and beyond legal requirements, companies have a social and human obligation to be responsible hosts and take all necessary measures to prevent any employees who are drunk from getting behind the wheel when they leave the party.
Suggestions for avoiding regrets
There are several ways to encourage your employees to adopt responsible behaviours with regard to driving when impaired. Things you can do include:
- Introduce a reliable system for measuring blood alcohol levels.
- Set up a voucher system for alcohol. If employees must spend money to pay for drinks over and above the 2 or 3 vouchers they receive, they may be more inclined to limit their consumption.
- Post contact information for various transportation services such as Opération Nez Rouge, Tolérance Zéro, and taxi companies.
- Reimburse expenses for returning home safely by offering taxi vouchers.
- Hold the party in a hotel and negotiate a group rate for rooms.
- Make a list of designated drivers and provide non-alcoholic beverages for them. Support them by organizing games or making a range of non-alcoholic cocktails available.
- Reserve a bus service to and from a public transportation hub.
Protecting your employees is also a way of telling them you care about them and they’re important. And that’s a great message to send during this time of the year!
Want to encourage your employees to adopt healthy lifestyle habits?
Discover the VIVA workplace health and wellness program.