Christmas is creeping closer and closer, and with it comes the fun (and pressures) of gift-buying, Christmas tree decorating and getting the classic tearful photo of the kids with Santa
But if you’re the owner of a bar, cafe, restaurant or anywhere else that serves alcohol, this is also the time of year when you need to pay careful attention to host responsibility.
What is Host Responsibility?
Put simply, host responsibility encompasses the policies and plans every business that has a liquor licence needs to abide by in order to create a safe drinking environment for their customers.
What Does Host Responsibility Look Like?
When serving alcohol, there are many things business owners and their staff need to consider, particularly when it comes to legal implications.
In New Zealand, it is illegal to serve anyone under the age of 18 alcohol. If you are found to have broken this law, you could be fined up to $2,000. Therefore, people serving alcohol may ask for proof of age before they’ll hand it over to a punter. This ID verification could occur anywhere alcohol can be purchased, including a restaurant, bar, hotel or supermarket.
If you need to ask for proof of age from a customer, a current driver’s licence, passport or Hospitality NZ 18+ card are the only types of ID that can be provided. If they cannot prove their age within these parameters, you must not serve them. It’s as simple as that.
It’s worth noting here that, despite it being illegal to sell alcohol to minors, there currently isn’t a minimum age at which it is illegal to drink alcohol in New Zealand, although the Health Promotion Agency’s (HPA) advice for parents and caregivers is, “Not drinking alcohol is the safest option for children and young people under 18 years.”
In New Zealand, it’s also illegal to serve already-intoxicated people more alcohol. In fact, they’re not permitted on licensed premises in the first place. If there are intoxicated people on your premises (a common occurrence during this silly season), you must ask them to leave. This is for their own safety, and for the safety of your other customers.
Employing bouncers or security guards is a great way to manage this. Empower them to refuse entry to intoxicated people in the first place.
Food & Water
If you serve alcohol, you must also have food, non-alcoholic drinks and free water available at all times. Part of your host responsibility is to enable punters to enjoy themselves as much as possible, for as long as possible, so the more food and non-alcoholic drinks that are available, the longer they’ll be able to remain on your premises.
Why Does it Matter?
New Zealand doesn’t have a good record when it comes to drunk driving. In fact, for every 100 Kiwi drivers killed after driving drunk or under the influence of drugs, 50 of their passengers and 19 non-alcohol impaired road users die with them.
Our drinking culture is less about having fun and more about overindulgence too. The 2016 Global Drug Survey found that, while the majority of New Zealanders drink responsibility (about four-fifths), many are drinking too much, too quickly and sometimes too young. The study also found that 37% of Kiwis aged 18-24 drank alcohol in order to get drunk.
While the majority of New Zealanders who drink are old enough to look after themselves, the providers of alcohol need to take responsibility for the safety of their punters too. That’s why host responsibility policies are required in every business that supplies alcohol to customers: to ensure the safety of those people as much as possible.
What Can My Food Business Do?
Christmas, New Year’s and summer are typically hot-spots when it comes to alcohol consumption. Food businesses that serve up alcohol will become much busier, and it may become harder to monitor the levels of intoxication of your punters. Here are some tips to help you stay compliant.
- Make sure you roster enough staff: The more eyes you have on your customers, the more likely someone will notice that they’re intoxicated.
- Assign dedicated bartenders: Don’t let every man and his dog serve up drinks; keep it limited to a certain few who can monitor people’s alcohol intake.
- Offer food, non-alcoholic drinks and water: Keep menus in visible places. On particularly busy days, think about offering complimentary snacks (they need to be more substantial than bar nuts, though).
- Offer to book cabs: Make it easier for punters to enjoy their night out by ordering taxi rides home for them.
- Train staff: Make sure everyone understands their role in your host responsibility policy. Take the time to carry out training where necessary.
For more information about host responsibility in New Zealand, visit alcohol.org.nz.
Finish the Year the Way You’d Like the Next to Start
With the end of another year on the horizon, it’s time to start looking beyond Christmas and summer and into the new year.