Halloween In the Office – Trick or Treat?

Halloween in the office can be a tricky endeavor and not a treat for the Human Resources Department.  Many employers allow employees to decorate the office and dress up on Halloween.  Halloween is now considered the 2nd most popular holiday (Christmas being first).

It’s fun to dress up and act silly but employers should be mindful and prepared.  Participation in any office Halloween activities should be voluntary.  Selecting a Halloween Costume for the workplace can pose problems on several levels.   A costume that is suitable for a house party, club or bar may not be suitable for the office.  Employers should remind employees that professionalism and office policies are not suspended on Halloween.  This year we anticipate several Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton costumes.  Costumes of famous public figures are fine as long as the employees are not using Halloween to proselytize their political opinions or religious beliefs on their coworkers.  Employees should not feel uncomfortable or unwelcome at work because the office is permitting a Halloween celebration.  Policies that can easily be violated are:  Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment, EEO, Safety, and Social Media.

Managers should be mindful that the costume that an employee wears on Halloween should not influence future performance reviews, promotions or raises.

If you are allowing employees to dress up on Halloween, set guidelines about costumes.  When posting or inviting employees to dress up for Halloween, include a comment to be professional and respectful.  If an employee is unsure if a costume is office appropriate, have them confer with a manager or HR.  Be sure to mention that costumes that are sexually suggestive or offensive based on a protected group are not allowed and the employee will be asked to change or if necessary go home.  Here are some examples of inappropriate costumes:

  • Super Hero in tight spandex
  • Religious costumes such as nun, priest, rabbi
  • Sexy maid costume
  • Pimp
  • Costumes with an overt racist message
  • No props that are weapons (toy guns, swords)

Halloween is spooky.  Hope we didn’t scare you too much but if we did, one of our HR consultants can provide you with solutions at 631.794.7400.