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Holiday and New Year Reminders for Employers

By Brent Kettelkamp - Seaton, Peters & Revnew, P.A.

December 6, 2018

Holiday Party Do’s and Don’ts

It is the time of year for holiday parties. While a good time can be had by all, employers need to be sure to set expectations beforehand. Employers may consider the following:

1.    Notify employees that the company’s anti-discrimination and other employee conduct policies apply. One way to assist with this is for employers to notify its managers that they are considered “on duty,” and should be instructed to keep an eye on the employees under their management.
2.    If employers decide to serve alcohol at the holiday party, be sure to take the necessary precautions to ensure employees are not overserved. Providing each employee with a drink ticket is an option to limit excessive consumption. To further minimize risk, employers may consider having the party during the afternoon, and not after work into the evening or weekend. Inviting employees’ spouses or significant others can also help in ensuring that employees are on their best behavior. If employers do serve alcohol, it is important to serve food and close the bar at least an hour before the party ends.
3.    Avoid the use of overly religious symbols, such as a nativity scene or crosses and instead use symbols such as snowmen or snowflakes.

Finally, if complaints do arise following a holiday party, employers should address them in a timely manner, consistent with company policy. They should be given the same weight as any other complaint.

New Year Reminders

If you have not already started, now is a good time to review company policies, procedures, and practices before the New Year. While this is not an exhaustive list, employers may want to consider the following:
1.    Review job descriptions to make sure they are still accurate.
2.    Review sick leave or vacation time policies to ensure they are compliant with the applicable state and city laws.
3.    Given the recent passing of state and city minimum wage laws, ensure all your employees are being paid in accordance with the applicable laws and ordinances. Minnesota’s minimum wage increases on January 1, 2019 to $9.86/hr. for large employers (more than 100 employees) and $8.04 for all others (small employers, training wage and youth wage rate).
4.    Review your employee handbook to determine if any updates need to be made. We generally recommend a full review/update to a company’s employee handbook at least every two years.    
5.    Check to make sure all employees have acknowledged receipt of the most recent employee handbook.
6.    Verify that all labor and employment posters are current.

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