holiday season upon us, the Division of Talent and Culture wanted to take a
moment to remind supervisors of West Virginia University’s guidelines for
hosting employee holiday events.
The following guidelines are provided to supervisors for handling the basic structure related to employee holiday events in compliance with the West Virginia Ethics Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act, while also providing activities for employees that keep the holiday spirit alive.
- Format – The best format for a holiday event that allows for the maximum flexibility with staff is one that incorporates a work-related activity (e.g., staff meeting, employee recognition, training, etc.). For employees to be paid for time in attendance at a holiday event, there must be some work-related activity combined with the purpose of the event unless the time of the event is “de minimis.”
For example, if your holiday event is scheduled from 2 to 5 p.m. and your employees are required to attend as a matter of a work-related activity being conducted during the event, then the event is a compensable period of time. If the entire three hours is non-work-related and the event is voluntary, then the West Virginia Ethics Act would prohibit the University from providing compensation.
- Time – If the holiday event does not incorporate any work-related activity and is voluntary, the employee may use their normally scheduled unpaid meal break period combined with a maximum of up to one hour of non-work-related holiday activity (deemed for this purpose to be de minimis). This should include any travel time that might be necessary if the event is held at an off-campus location.
The supervisor will be responsible for making manual adjustments to the timecard to account for the time. For voluntary events that extend beyond the normal workday, employees should be required to clock in/out in accordance with their normal shift, and attendance outside of that time should be voluntary and unpaid. If the event ends prior to the end of the employee’s regular shift, they should return to their workplace and finish their regularly scheduled shift.
- Approval Requirements – Holiday event plans should be approved by the supervisor and second-level supervisor unless otherwise directed by leadership within an organization. The funding for events must be approved by either the dean or associate vice president in accordance with the WVU Hospitality Services Policy.
- Hospitality Services Policy – As a reminder, any payment of expenses related to a holiday event should comply with the WVU Hospitality Services Policy. Further, holiday events may not be paid using University funds, but must be paid for with either personal or WVU Foundation funds.
While we encourage special events during the holiday season to boost morale and build strong teams, we all must do our part to ensure these events are hosted in a responsible and ethical manner.
If you have any specific questions related to these guidelines, please contact Employee Relations at EmployeeRelations@mail.wvu.edu or 304-293-5700 ext. 5.