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It’s that time of year and employers must decide if they will allow Halloween in the workplace, and how much! Do you throw together a team party? Do you have a costume contest or pumpkin carving contest?

There are some serious concerns for employers to consider when making such decisions. According to MaynardNexson, some of the primary concerns include discrimination claims, wage and hour considerations, and even safety-related concerns.

So, what does an employer do? Well, that is a tricky not treaty question. In our opinion, the best answer is to be prepared and communicate clearly with your teams.

Tips for Employers to Consider

Below are some tips to consider when deciding whether and what to allow for Halloween activities at your company:

  1. Determine if costumes pose a safety threat to any staff and/or if they will create a potentially negative impact on client/customer interactions.
  2. If costumes are allowed:
    • Consider sending a reminder to employees that costumes (and comments) based on any protected class or status are not allowed. 
    • Remind employees of your dress code and consider making it a requirement that costumes adhere to your dress code.
    • Create and distribute an example list of prohibited costumes and accessories, such as fake weapons and full-face covering masks.
  3. Make all company-approved Halloween activities optional. Remember and remind teams that some employees do not celebrate or recognize Halloween and they should not be negatively impacted for declining to participate.
  4. Remind employees that all company policies apply to Halloween events, including weapons, non-solicitation, attendance, time reporting, respectful workplace, etc.
  5. Train managers and supervisors on how they can address concerns that may be identified during Halloween activities.
  6. If you decide to limit Halloween in your workplace, communicate such to your staff in advance (and while you don’t have to justify your decision with a ton of detail, a quick comment on the decision might go a long way).

Holidays can help teams build morale and have fun at work. There is a balance between allowing that to happen and taking unnecessary risks. Proper planning and evaluation of the pros and cons will help you make the right decision for your organization.