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6 Tips for Off-Duty Recreational Activities

EverythingHR Staff | 07/16/2018 | Blog


Our Consulting Helpline is constantly receiving calls during this time of year regarding company picnics and employer liability.

“If an employee is injured, is the injury covered under workers compensation?”

“What’s the liability if the company serves alcohol?” 

In addition, sexual harassment, workplace violence, and discrimination claims are other areas of concern. Employers who sponsor summer picnics and recreational events must be mindful of the potential problems and legal responsibilities.

You can minimize risks and certain legal issues by following these suggestions from our helpline consultants:

Hold the event during non-working hours. Also, do not conduct company business at the event.

Do not require attendance. Attendance at events outside of business hours should always be voluntary. Be mindful of the employee’s rights under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which provides that an employer must make reasonable accommodations to the religious beliefs and practices of an employee, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship.

Do not coerce or pressure employees in any way to participate in any activities.

Post “Notice to Employee”, California Labor Code Section 3600 regarding off-duty recreational, social, and athletic activities, and provide employees with copies of the company written policies regarding these issues (prior to the event).

Workers compensation can cover recreational event injuries under certain circumstances. Remind supervisors and managers that an injury is covered under workers compensation if the injury arises out of, and in the course of, employment. Therefore, injuries sustained by employees who are required, coerced, or pressured to attend the company function would likely be covered.

Do not serve liquor. However, if you do choose to serve alcohol, here are a few guidelines to follow.

  1. Issue a clear policy statement before the event that excessive drinking, sexual harassment, and violence are unacceptable behaviors.
  2. Do not serve liquor purchased with company funds.
  3. Identify underage employees and guests, and develop procedures that will prevent them from consuming alcohol (such as color-coded wristbands).
  4. Limit the amount of alcohol served to each guest. A few solutions: provide only a limited number of drink tickets to each attendee; hire a professional bartender who will serve measured amounts and refuse to serve individuals who have had too much to drink; designate a time to close the bar (and enforce it).
  5. Serve food throughout the event. High-protein foods, in particular, will help slow the absorption of alcohol.
  6. Ensure that intoxicated guests do not drive by arranging for other transportation such as a designated driver, taxi, or ride-sharing service.


What are your company’s policies and best practices surrounding company events? Share what works (or what doesn’t) in the comments!


Written by EverythingHR Helpline Staff.

To contact the author of this article, email helpline@everythinghr.com.