As a result of the "Weinstein effect," more companies are taking precautions to avoid wild holiday office parties.
A survey by global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., found the following:
- 11 percent of employers will not hold a holiday party this year after holding them in the past, up from 4 percent in 2016 and the highest percentage since 2010, when 24 percent of companies did not have parties.
48.7 percent of employers will serve alcohol this year, down from nearly 62 percent of company parties that offered alcohol service in 2016. Last year’s total was the highest percentage of employers serving alcohol since Challenger began the survey in 2007.
37.8 percent of companies will invite spouses, partners, and friends to attend the company soiree this year, down from 42.9 percent in 2016.
Nearly one-third of companies are keeping the party on company premises compared to 28 percent last year. Additionally, more companies are holding the party during the workday: 51.4 percent in 2017 versus 47.6 percent last year.
“Employers are currently very wary of creating an environment where inappropriate contact between employees could occur,” said Andrew Challenger, Vice President of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. “One way to create a safer environment is to limit the guest list, hold the party during the workday, and avoid serving alcohol."
Attorneys with Miller & Wynn, P.C. in Douglasville offered the following tips to keep office parties safe and avoid legal pitfalls this holiday season:
- Make sure employees are aware of the harassment policies.
- Remind everyone that all policies still apply during the holiday party.
- Consider not serving alcohol to limit risk and legal liability.
- If serving alcohol, limit the number of drinks served per person.
- At the end of the evening, perhaps offer transportation options such as carpools or other ride-sharing methods.
- Keep in mind your company’s religious non-discrimination polices when planning décor or activities for the party.
- Consider sending out a memo to employees stating what the company will and will not be responsible for as it relates to the holiday party.
- One way to reduce liability is to hold the party off company property.
- Ensure that those in charge do not drink so they can properly monitor employee behavior.
- State that attendance is not mandatory to avoid FLSA concerns.