With Christmas just days around the corner, we’d like to wish all our readers a happy, safe and enjoyable holiday season.  For those in the world of HR and employment, we have a special treat to keep your spirits bright — our annual holiday poem:

Twas the week before Christmas, gracious, it’s come ‘round again.
And the HR manager’s fretting, like an old mother hen.
HR and the boss, plotting and scheming,
Are planning a holiday party with meaning.
While not a religious celebration per se,
The party hopefully should make everyone’s day.

Now some may not feel comfortable with this,
They may wish to work or follow their bliss.
“Consider a half day off with pay,
For shopping or worship,” HR did say.
Tho’ holidays need not legally be paid,
We’ll look to our handbook for the rules we have laid.

Should we hold it at work, a restaurant, or bar?
The liabilities are different, let’s think what they are.
If we serve beer, wine, or booze, we really must think,
How we will control the amount people drink.
If they leave the party, driving their car,
Trouble may arise even if their drive’s not that far.

Our managers should observe how people talk
And whether they wobble or weave when they walk.
A taxi or designated driver should be ready
To ferry folks home who’ve become unsteady.
Limited vouchers could work for the drinks,
Maybe a bartender would help too, methinks.

Will there be presents?  Will the IRS want a piece?
Our accountant will know, check with him please.
Our insurance policy might to place some limits,
Check it to see if our party falls within it.
For someone may stumble, an injury may be had,
Workers’ comp may cover, or our policy better have.

If we do Secret Santa or White Elephant,
A limit should be placed on how much is spent.
A refresher of harassment policies is needed,
For inappropriate gifting will not be heeded.
The same goes for merriment amongst the bunch,
For some may be offended by an innocent touch.

We could invite family to our celebrations,
This could reduce the chance of harassment allegations.
For people act better when their spouse is around,
Or where children or partners or loved ones abound.
Certainly drinking games are not allowed,
Stop serving early to help sober your crowd.

And what of discipline at this time of year,
Attendance and productivity may go down, I fear.
Is shopping on-line a no-no on your books?
Will you punish everyone, at Amazon who looks?
Investigate, document, and apply the four Cs:
Policies clear, compliant, communicated, and applied consistently.

Time should be spent planning for good cheer.
For this time will roll around again next year.
Take care of your employees, treat them right.
And all will have a very good night.
Good practices and policies can avoid legal pitfall.
Merry Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanza to all.*

If I’ve left someone out, forgive me please.
This rhyming is hard – just try it and see.

Vanessa Towarnicky's primary focus is in the area of labor and employment law. She has been involved in representing clients in various employment cases, including sexual harassment; deliberate intent; age, race, and disability discrimination; wrongful discharge; and various other employment-related torts. She is admitted to various state and federal courts as well as the Third Circuit Court of Appeals and Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
» See more articles by Vanessa L. Towarnicky
» Read the full biography of Vanessa L. Towarnicky at Steptoe & Johnson

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