Holiday Parties and Pay

by Michael Haberman on December 13, 2012 · 0 comments

Having a holiday party this year? Well here is some quick advice on holiday parties and pay.

Is attendance compulsory?

Most holiday parties are voluntary. But there are occasions where an employee is either required to attend or it is “heavily suggested” they attend. Companies are free to do this, although I would suggest if you are making employees attend the party you may have some employee relations issues. You can make your exempt employees attend all you want, however, if you make your non-exempt employees attend this could be perceived as “work” and you most likely will need to pay them for their attendance. If the party is on a Friday or Saturday and that time takes them to over 40 hours that workweek then you had better be sure you are paying overtime.

Volunteering to help

Employers must be careful about making office parties a compensable event.


Sometimes nonexempt employees say they will volunteer to work the party. Sounds good doesn’t it? Sorry the neither the USDOL nor the courts recognize nonexempt volunteering for their employer’s benefit. This means that you have to pay them.

So do yourself a favor. Have a party in the office during normal work hours. You are paying everyone to be there anyway. This also will eliminate alcohol being served and thus you avoid all the sexual harassment issues and the embarrassment of watching the CEO do a terrible rendition of the gangnam  style dance.

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