Have a Happy, HR-Compliant Holiday Party

The company holiday party is a chance to celebrate the season and show your appreciation for your employees. All good things, but do proceed with caution. ES&A HR Services Advisor Shareen Poynter offers employees tips on how to have a happy, HR-compliant holiday party. 


First, be sure all employees are aware of and understand the standards for acceptable behavior according to company policies and guidelines, your employee handbook, and Equal Employment Opportunity guidelines regarding discrimination and harassment.

At the party, managers are the company’s eyes and ears to make sure that employees are behaving in compliance with your established code of conduct. Management also has guidelines to follow. For example: Don’t conduct any type of company business during the event, including handing out holiday bonuses. In order to avoid potential wage and hour complaints, don’t make attendance mandatory. Be clear that attendance at the party is voluntary and will be unpaid.

Also on the “Do” list for managers: 

  • Do monitor alcohol consumption – offer limited drink tickets, and offer transportation options such as vouchers for cab rides or ride-sharing services. 

  • Do remind employees they are responsible for the behavior of their guests. Sexual harassment policies apply to the behavior of third parties. 

  • And if managers receive any complaints about inappropriate behavior, they should notify HR immediately in order to mitigate potential liability.