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Firm Offers Free Beer for Timesheets: Good Idea?

By Daniel Taylor, Esq. on October 29, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A Minnesota ad agency has come up with a novel way to encourage employees to turn in their timesheets.

Minneapolis-based Colle McVoy has begun offering the company's employees a free pint of beer upon completion of their timesheets, dispensed by a one-of-a-kind machine called the TapServer. The TapServer uses employee RFID cards and custom software to reward on-the-ball employees with a beer of their choice, selected via iPad interface.

But while the TapServer is an impressive bit of technology, is serving employees alcohol on the job a good idea?

Potential Perils of Drinking at Work

Although there may be nothing illegal about offering drinks to employees of legal drinking age at work, there may be the potential for legal liability in the event of an accident or injury.

In many states, dram shop and social host liability laws may hold those who serve alcohol responsible for injuries caused by those who become intoxicated. For example, an employer may be held responsible for injuries caused in a drunken driving accident if the driver became intoxicated while on the job or at a work function such as an office party.

Additionally, injured employees may still be allowed to receive worker's compensation for injuries caused while intoxicated if drinking was encouraged or allowed by their employer. Drinking may also loosen inhibitions or cloud judgment, making sexual harassment, workplace discrimination, and other potential sources of legal trouble more likely.

Drinking May Help Improve Worker Morale, Problem Solving

Despite its potential downsides, however, many businesses are now allowing employees to tip back a beer or cocktail while on the clock, reports ABC News. In offices where employees may be expected to put in long hours, alcohol can provide a respite from the grind and an opportunity to socialize with co-workers, increasing employee morale.

Alcohol may also help employees find creative solutions to problems. A 2012 study by University of Illinois at Chicago researchers found that a small amount of alcohol provides a benefit to a person's creative process, and making them "more likely to perceive their solutions as the result of sudden insight."

Ultimately, the decision regarding allowing alcohol at work will be, like so many decisions, up to you. Weigh the pros and cons and decide what's right for your business. Just remember: Employee drinking can lead to more than just a hangover.

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