CR Fletcher

2010 Greater Syracuse Business of the Year
C.R. Fletcher Associates, Inc.
Certified NYS Women-Owned Business Enterprise (MWBE)

Holiday Liability, By: Marielle Lanoir, PHR

According to a recent article published by Huffington Post, the amount of companies holding holiday work parties has increased a sizable amount since the recession caused many corporations to halt or cancel their holiday festivities in years past.  Time and time again you will hear the common “Do’s and Do Not’s” for employees attending this annual celebration, however it is not as common to hear the same list for the employers throwing this much anticipated “work party”.

SHRM’s legal department recently published a list of tips that will help your organization avoid any legal mishaps that may inadvertently occur during your upcoming holiday celebration.  Here are a few of SHRM’s tips, as well as some additional tips and insight to ensure your holiday party is a great success.

1.) Make sure that your holiday party is just that- a HOLIDAY party-not a Christmas party.  As stated in the SHRM article “ with a diverse workforce, it is important to include employees of all faiths”.

2.) Confirm your employees understand that though this is a fun party which is often more casual then their typical Monday through Friday routine,  it is also a work event.  SHRM’s legal department states that you must “inform your employees ahead of time that what happens at the holiday party does not “stay” at the holiday party”…it is not Vegas, it is an event thrown by their employer.

3.) If alcohol will be served at your event, consider utilizing a ticket system.  Many organizations are opting to keep the alcohol and open bar at their holiday party, but only providing employees with 1 or 2 drink tickets that can be redeemed for their alcoholic drink of choice.  Not a fan of the ticket system?  Consider hiring a shuttle of cab service for the night, ensuring individuals that may over indulge in their favorite holiday cocktail will safely make it home after the party. This is a key tip for any type of work event being held where alcohol may be consumed.  At the end of the day, if alcohol is being served at an employer-sponsored event, there will be some liability that may fall on your organizations lap.

However, if there is one rule to always follow with alcohol, it is to never let your managers or supervisors pour or serve alcohol during the holiday party.  The last thing you want to hear is how one of your members of management over served the new girl in Marketing.  Consider hiring professional bartenders, or holding your event at a restaurant that will have staff properly trained and able to handle your event with ease.

4.) HR Suite, an HR Strategy organization, suggests posting and reminding employees of your sexual harassment policy in the days leading up to the holiday party.  Make sure there is an emphasis that there is still a zero tolerance policy for any form of harassment.

5.) Consider holding your holiday party during the week.  Employees are less likely to make any poor decisions if they know their alarm is set for 5 am the next morning for work.

6.) Do not ask your employees to work or perform any work functions at the holiday party.  This is a time for them to have fun and relax.  Make sure they are able to do so!

After all…this is supposed to be a party!

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