Wondering what you should do about this year’s holiday party? With the new Omicron variant on the rise, CAL-OSHA guidelines still in place, and plenty of HR questions to go around, here are the top 3 things you should know for this year’s holiday party.
1. Attendance is completely voluntary
First, make sure employees know that attendance at the event is completely optional. Because it’s optional, this time is not compensable or considered worked hours. So kick back, relax, and set aside any concerns about labor costs and exceeding your overtime budget.
2. Be aware of applicable COVID-19 protocols
Next, be aware of any COVID-19 protocols impacting your holiday party. If you’re in California, general CAL-OSHA guidelines are still in place, and other cities may have their own stricter requirements. For example, Los Angeles County currently has vaccine mandates at some venues.
Prior to the event, reach out to your venue to confirm:
- What is their masking policy?
- Do they require proof of vaccination?
- Will non-vaccinated attendees need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test?
Once you’ve confirmed this information, be sure to communicate it to your employees. After all, the last thing you want is for your attendees to arrive at your holiday party only to be turned away because they didn’t bring a mask or negative COVID-19 test!
3. The employee handbook still controls
Finally, remind employees that even though your company holiday party may be off-site and after-hours, the employee handbook still controls. Company policies around alcohol consumption, harassment, and appropriate behavior are still in effect. Any violations of these policies may result in corrective action up to and including termination.
Top Tip: Send your holiday party reminders to employees seamlessly with Workflows in SDP Connect! Our system will instantly message your team and collect digital confirmation and acknowledgment of your company policies. Learn how
Ultimately, it’s up to you whether or not to have a holiday party this year. Some companies are forgoing an in-person get-together again this year, while others feel like it’s safe enough to celebrate in person.
In addition to the three key reminders above, here are some final best practices to consider as you plan this year’s holiday party:
- Look for outdoor spaces or well-ventilated indoor venues with enough room for people to spread out.
- Require employees to be vaccinated or tested before attending the party. Pay for testing if you require it.
- Require anyone who is under the weather (for any reason) to stay home. If there are raffles or gifts at the party, ensure those who stay home for their own safety or the safety of others are included.
- Because the holiday party is voluntary and non-compensable, no work or company business should be conducted during this time. Employees who are uncomfortable attending should not be pressured in any way to attend.
- Consider hosting a virtual party instead or as an alternative for those who can’t or don’t want to attend in person. You could provide gift cards to local eateries or food delivery services, organize a home decorating or ugly sweater contest, and facilitate interactive games.
You can read the CDC’s guidance on holiday celebrations here.
We hope these tips help keep your holiday soiree safe and fun! If you find any of these ideas helpful, let us know by sharing a pic from your holiday party with the hashtag #SmileWithSDP!
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