HALLOWEEN- Have a safe and HR friendly Halloween! What does that look like?

Do you allow employees to come to work in costume?  Set some guidelines around what’s appropriate in attire to be sure not to offend others, either inside or outside the Company.

Spooky! Halloween lets the goblins out of the box, unleashing all kinds of behaviors in kids and adults alike. Pranks? Costumes? Sugar overload? It’s all there and can easily lead to a bit too much of a light-hearted business day. So, how do you respond? Do you give up on productivity for the day? Check all the apples for razor blades? Allow costumes within some limits?

Here are our guidelines for a fun, safe and productive Halloween season.

First, you must be aware that Halloween traditions stem from religious beliefs and the very personal nature of all such beliefs means it’s important to avoid any bad feelings, ridicule or leaving some with a sense they’re not included.

Before deciding on a costume or party day, you may want to inquire in advance how employees feel about Halloween and whether they’ll participate in your chosen event. Depending on your company size, a meeting with employees, their managers or distribution of a company-wide memo can help guide behaviors, costumes and provide some common understanding about either the holiday origins or how your company will (or won’t) celebrate it this year.

Setting aside some time for either a costume celebration (a competition can be fun yet might leave some feeling left out, especially in this era of hybrid workplaces), a gathering for lunch, getting together for scary stories (not too scary, please) can build team spirit and add some light-hearted fun to your workplace.

Does your company have a dress code? Well, while it might be loosened up on Halloween, the degree to which the body is covered is better left unchanged. Do you prefer costume make up to masks? It can be easier to work, especially on the telephone or in zoom meetings and may help others feel a bit more comfortable knowing with whom they’re interacting.

And, you definitely want to avoid uncomfortable moments that can be created by costumes of terrorists, wounded political candidates, pregnant nuns (please – let’s keep sex, religion, and politics out of the workplace). So, either suggest all bring a change of clothing or have employees arrive in street clothes and change into their costumes for the planned party so poor costume choices can be quickly ‘disappeared’.

What about the party? Will you serve alcohol? If so, be aware of your responsibility towards your employees and anyone they meet on the road at night; be clear about setting drink limits.

Is that party taking place after working hours? If it’s mandatory, will you incur an overtime responsibility in addition to the cost of the party? Make sure you check your state laws. Even a lunchtime party can cause deadlines to spill over into an overtime scenario. Be aware of your responsibility and productivity needs.

Some other tips regarding costume guidelines:

  • Can some costumes interfere with safety on the job?
  • Does your state call for a uniform reimbursement if you require dress up for Halloween?
  • Ensure costume choices include concerns for flammability.
  • Vandalism? Injury? Be clear in your company handbook how these incidents – which can happen anytime – are to be addressed.

Is this all too much to handle? Maybe, but we know that seasoned employers like you can handle it well and have a good time; just don’t overdo on the candy!

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