Halloween in the Workplace

Halloween can be a spooky time of year; however, managing employee conduct around this fun and frightful holiday does not have to give your human resources department the chills.  When enacting your policies and procedures regarding the Halloween holiday, the most important step you can take is to be proactive.


If you allow costumes in the workplace, send a memo the day before Halloween, clearly laying out your expectations for employee attire.  Are employees still expected to strictly adhere to your dress code?  Are certain items that would not be permitted on a regular work day, such as denim, permissible on Halloween?  Will requirements regarding skirt length or shoulder covering still be in force?  If you have clothing requirements for safety reasons (such as protective footwear or restraining long hair), make sure that employees know that all safety requirements remain in place, regardless of their potential costume choices.  Letting employees know the dress code and safety requirements up front will help prevent employees from choosing attire that is too sexy, distracting, or unsafe.


Your memo should also call attention to your discrimination and harassment policy, and make it clear that costumes that mock, make light of, or serve to intimidate a member of another sex, race, religion, culture, or national origin will not be tolerated.


If you are engaging in Halloween-related activities during the work day, be sensitive to the fact that some employees have religious beliefs that conflict with the celebration of Halloween, and make sure that participation in all activities is purely voluntary. 


Hosting a companywide holiday party can have serious problems and pitfalls, regardless of the reason for the season.  If you decide to have a Halloween party for your employees, assign several members of management to monitor the festivities and intervene in any situation that feels inappropriate for the workplace.


If you have questions regarding Halloween-themed activities or costumes in the workplace, avoid being the subject of terrifying tales told around the HR campfire and contact the experienced attorneys at myHRcounsel.