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The Office Holiday Party: Fun or Forget It?

By December 2, 2015November 28th, 2018Risk Management & Safety

It’s the holiday season and, with that, comes the company holiday party. According to Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., a consultancy firm, nearly nine out of ten companies opted to host a holiday party in 2014. Let me put on my HR elf hat for a minute and offer three tips to maximize everyone’s enjoyment at this year’s party:

  • Don’t let the holiday spirits get the best of you – If you choose to serve alcohol at the company party, you might consider limiting how much is available. Many laws hold companies liable for the acts of intoxicated employees who cause injury to someone else after they’ve been drinking. Be sure to have a cab or driving service on call for employees who may have enjoyed themselves a bit too much.
  • Celebrate the holidays, not one particular holy day – There are more than a dozen religious or cultural holidays in the month of December. Keep in mind religious discrimination issues. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) takes the position that certain holiday decorations such as wreaths and Santa Claus are secular, but if an employee objects to any mandatory holiday customs or practices on religious grounds, the employer may have to offer a “reasonable accommodation.” It’s best to avoid the religious underpinnings of the holidays and focus on a sense of togetherness and boosting staff morale.
  • Employers may have to pay to party – Most employment laws state that if you require employees to attend he holiday party, you must pay them for their time there. This type of situation arises when a company holds an annual meeting or the leadership makes a presentation about the year’s performance in conjunction with the holiday party. If the party is scheduled during normal work hours, it is likely that employees are being paid anyway. However, if it is scheduled after work hours and is considered mandatory, the employees that attend must be paid. It’s probably best to make attendance at the holiday party optional. Most of your employees will attend because it’s a party, afterall!

If you have any questions about HR policies regarding company events, EEOC regulations or wages, please give us a call at 678-208-2802.

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