Hospitality is central to the fabric of community life. Beyond the basic needs for food and drink, the opportunity to meet with other people to socialize, engage in conversation and to form relationships is central to everyday life.

The success of a business is often based upon the quality of its relationships with clients, customers, and employees. To nurture these relationships, companies organize events and celebrations to bring together customers or staff and their families for office parties, picnics, banquets and employer sponsored conventions. The service of beer, wine, and spirits is often part of hospitality, and while most people enjoy consuming these beverages responsibly, those who don't, increase risk of harm to themselves and others.

Business-related drinking contributes to various liability risks, and affects employee performance, company image, and reputation. Many companies are examining factors contributing to worker safety and health care costs, and are recognizing the relationship between increased costs and alcohol abuse. At times, it is difficult for a company to intrude upon the personal activities of staff, especially during non-working hours, but failure to take the initiative can result in both economic and human loss.

Workplace drinking and employees who regularly abuse alcoholic beverages cost U.S. companies billions of dollars each year through lateness, sick leave, accidents, and workers compensation claims at rates three times or more than their peers.

This guide is not intended to provide information about general policies, but rather, will focus on host responsibility, and what a company can do to protect itself from alcohol related liability, either events it organizes or events organized by employees.