The holidays have officially arrived! This means many businesses are hosting holiday parties and festivities. While holiday parties are 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 minimize legal liability.
1. Attendance at workplace holiday celebrations should never be mandatory. 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 imperative that you make a reasonable effort to monitor the consumption of alcohol of all individuals to ensure they are clear-minded before driving home, have a designated driver, or take public transportation. Otherwise, you may be liable for any subsequent injuries. One great tip is to provide water 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 conduct policies will remain in full effect during the holiday party. It is alwasy a good idea to remind your team prior to the work event that all discrimination, harassment, and any other conduct policies are in full effect, and all team members are unconditionally responsible for their actions. This will ensure you are again exercising due diligence to avert unprofessional behavior while holding your staff accountable.
4. The party should be welcoming and inclusive of all team members regardless of religion, beliefs, and location. All employees should be included in the celebration, even those who do not observe the holiday, are remote or satellite/telecommute, as this may be an opportunity to bond with co-workers and avoid discrimination/hostile work environment claims. (See, 1. Attendance at workplace holiday celebrations should never be mandatory. )
5. You should be considerate when designating food and entertainment. You will want to ensure that all employees feel welcome by providing alternatives to the traditional Christmas menu and alcohol. Additionally, you will want to consider dietary needs and allergies. This simple step will illustrate your good faith effort to be inclusive and welcoming of your entire team.
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 all 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.
If you feel your Practice may need assistance with any of the above information, please reach out to HR for Health by CLICKING HERE, or calling 877.779.4747 x option 1, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org today!