Changing the normal dress code and encouraging staff to come into work in fancy dress is common at Halloween and can be motivational and great fun. However, when we think about it there have been a few examples of stories in the news where fancy dress costumes have caused distress and people have been offended.
- In 2013 Asda and Tesco removed costumes from their stores which showed links to people with mental health conditions.
- Also in 2013 Walmart sold an Osama Bin-Laden costume which showed a picture of a male with a long beard wearing a turban. This costume was removed from sale as it was disrespectful to victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
- Prince Harry apologised for any offence he caused after wearing a Nazi costume in 2005 and said in a statement that he realised the costume had been a poor choice.
If Employers want to celebrate Halloween at work then it would be wise to set out some guidance around what is appropriate. Some points to consider are:
- When choosing a fancy dress costume consider the impact on others - in particular consider whether the costume could cause offence to someone on the grounds of race, religion, disability, age or sexual orientation.
- Ensure fancy dress consumes are not too revealing. The workplace isn’t normally the place for the sexy nurse costume!
- Consider who you will interact with when you are at work. Probably best to avoid the scary clown this year!
- Give staff the option to come into work in normal clothes – fancy dress parties are some people’s worst nightmare.
Don’t be put off by my guide – it is just a few points to consider! Have fun and enjoy the day.
Do you have any work Halloween stories? I would love to hear them.