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Holiday HR Insights: 5 Steps to Conducting a Holiday Party

Posted on 12/20/2017 by Michael Zamora
With the holidays beginning this week, Christmas and New Year’s parties are fast approaching. While holiday parties may be a good way to thank your workforce for a job well done and facilitate camaraderie outside of the normal day to day work life, it is imperative you carefully plan your holiday party in accordance with your practice’s policies to avoid liability.

1.  Attendance at workplace holiday celebrations should never be mandatory, as this will create wage and hour issues that may entitle nonexempt employees to compensation for time spent at the event, including overtime. Additionally, some employees may not celebrate the season, which can inadvertently open your practice up to religious discrimination or harassment claims.

2.  It is essential to monitor the consumption of alcohol and to do your due diligence to ensure all individuals are sober before driving home, have a designated driver, or take a taxicab or public transportation. Otherwise, the employer may be liable for any subsequent injuries. One great tip is to provide waters and coffee towards the end of night. This will not only ensure you are doing your part to ensure everyone is hydrated, but will also allow some time for you to mingle with your staff and gauge their state prior to them leaving.

3.  Emphasize that your practice’s discrimination, harassment, and employee conduct policies will remain in full effect during the holiday party. This will ensure you are doing your due diligence to avert unprofessional behavior while holding your staff accountable.

4.  The party should be inclusive, and all employees should be included in the celebration, even those who are remote or telecommute, as this may be an opportunity to bond with co-workers and avoid favoritism.

5.  An employer should be considerate when designating food and entertainment.;You will want to consider the wide variety of employees and take employee dietary needs and allergies into account.

While planning any work-related event, it is imperative that you plan accordingly, and establish the tone of the event prior to its occurrence. Although work-related events are a great way to engage your team outside of the normal day to day work life, it is still important to keep in mind that this is a work-related event and must maintain a level of professionalism. It is important to reach out to an HR professional or legal counsel to ensure you are establishing a safe and inclusive environment.

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