Holiday celebrations: Take steps to limit liability and reduce employee stress
According to BLR's 2013 Holiday Practices Survey, about 7 in 10 employers will hold a 2013 holiday party for their employees. And while most will hold their party off company property, over 80% will decorate their workplace. The survey offers information about paid holidays in 2013, pay for nonexempt employees who work on holidays, bonus payments and gifts for employees, pay practices for planned holidays for 2014 and more - download the full survey. (Related: SHRM survey: Employers set 2014 holiday schedules.)
BLR also offers a reminder that holiday parties and other seasonal expectations can combine to create a great deal of stress for employees. They offer a helpful list of holiday stressbuster techniques. One that we particularly like: "Wait until after the holidays. Workers may be better able to appreciate awards ceremonies and other work-related events when things have slowed down." This is a great idea because there are a flurry of activities between Thanksgiving and year end and then a long winter slump with few holidays and activities
Here's a roundup of some other holiday-related tools that focus on limiting liability and reducing stress:
- A checklist to help employers avoid the legal risks presented by employer-sponsored holiday parties (PDF) offered by Jeffrey S. Klein and Nicholas J. Pappas, Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP / Practical Law Company. It includes tips for preventing harrassment, harms related to alcohol consumption, workers' comp liability and wage & hour claims by non-exempt employees.
- Stephanie R. Leach of Snell & Wilmer offers a good tips for employers on avoiding holiday liability, which cover office decorations, religious accommodations, gift exchanges, parties, and more.
- Attorneys at Smith Gambrell & Russell LLP offer their "Labor and Employment Department’s Annual Party Poopers’ Alert", with discussions about bonuses, discrimination & retaliation concerns, parties, independent contractor status, wage & hour concerns, injury prevention and more.
- For more insurance related tips on Holiday Party Risks, PropertyCasualty360 warns against such perils as slip-and-fall accidents, alcohol liabilities, catering catastrophes and theft.
- The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) is encouraging employers and workers to renew the commitment to a safe and healthful work environment.
- Preventing sexual harassment at holiday parties
- Serving Alcohol at the Office Party? 10 Tips for Minimizing Liability
- 10 Alternatives to the Holiday Office Party
- The Power of Positive Employee Recognition
- Help Your Employees Manage Holiday Season Stress
Here are a few alternative celebratory ideas we've previously suggested:
Consider an alcohol-free family event. Invite employees to bring spouses and kids to the worksite. Serve light refreshments and have small gifts and favors for the kids. It's a good way for managers and supervisors to meet employees' family members.
Consider a neighborhood block party. Open your doors to neighboring businesses or residents for cake, cookies, alcohol-free eggnog, and a tour of your premises.
Consider a charitable event. Invite your employees to be hosts for a community based charity event or fundraiser. Stage a caroling event for local nursing homes or shelters. Have a toy or food fund drive, or sponsor mailings to military folks in active deployment.
When complex employee issues arise, ESI EAP offers member employers direct access to Certified Senior Professionals in Human Resources (SPHR) and senior clinical counselors. If you need an Employee Assistance Program give us a call: 800-535-4841.