Your employee has a traffic accident while intoxicated after a company party. Are you liable for that?

Uw medewerker krijgt een verkeersongeval onder invloed na een bedrijfsfeestje. Bent u daar mee aansprakelijk voor?

The end of the year and New Year period is the festive period par excellence. Perhaps a glass of wine will be served at your workplace at the end of the year or on the occasion of New Year's. Nothing wrong with that, it can even strengthen the bond between your employees. But what if one of your employees has an accident after such a party at work?

Legal framework

Legally speaking, as an employer you cannot be held liable for the accident. Your employee is responsible for this. You can prohibit an employee from driving drunk. When a context has been created in which the employee felt 'obliged' to use alcohol, the court can decide in exceptional cases to hold the employer jointly liable.

On a human level

Apart from the legal liability, you as an employer have a social responsibility. The consequences of a serious accident for your employee and possible victims are far-reaching and often lifelong. You can prevent this by pointing out your responsibility to your employee after a company party.

What can you do?

  1. Include a provision on alcohol consumption at work in your employment regulations. It is possible to maintain a zero tolerance around alcohol. After all, the employer is responsible for the well-being of his employee and must make every effort to prevent accidents.
  2. In the context of the Welfare Act, make your employees aware of the risks in traffic and the factors (such as alcohol) that influence them.

Tip : Vzw Rondpunt published a handbook and organizes testimonials from road victims and surviving relatives in companies. Experience shows that employees think about their own behavior in traffic after such a testimony. The basis for any behavioral change.

How do you guarantee the safety of your employees during/after the New Year's reception?”

A New Year's reception is a recurring habit in 75% of companies in Belgium. Employees dedicate themselves to your company for a whole year and deserve a party. Here are a few tips to help those employees go home safely after such a party:

  • you reward employees who volunteer as BOB;
  • you organize a taxi service for the partygoers with the company;
  • you choose to serve alcohol but limit it to a maximum of 2 glasses per person;
  • you ensure that the partygoers can test themselves with an alcohol tester (Dräger A6000) when leaving the reception
  • you have all employees take home (taxi or BOB) who blow positive
  • you choose not to serve alcohol and serve a non-alcoholic cocktail that is at least as tasty;
  • you organize your New Year's party in a hotel and let your employees spend the night;

New Year's receptions are not the only occasion when the safety of your employees is important. There is a clear legal framework, such as Collective Labor Agreement 100, for example, which obliges you to implement a preventive alcohol policy in the company. You decide for yourself which rules you apply regarding alcohol consumption during working hours and during 'social activities' such as a company party.

Working on a road safety policy in your company is important, but not easy. With the manual of vzw Rondpunt you can develop an integrated policy to prevent traffic accidents and to pay attention to the reception and reintegration after an accident.

The traffic testimonials of vzw Rondpunt are a first step towards road safety within your company. The story of a person involved in a traffic accident ensures that your employees are more susceptible to recommendations on safe behavior in traffic and enter into a dialogue about this with each other. Rondpunt has already tested this in various companies.

Source: Unizo

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