It's Thanksgiving! Or Christmas or New Year's. Joy is in the air, people are friendlier and every employee expects time off to celebrate. But not every one of those employees is going to get paid for those vacation days. Don't expect the state to help you out on this one. Whether you get holiday pay or not depends largely on your agreement with your employer.
You might think that paid time off for holidays is as American as apple pie, but holiday pay is not actually something protected by law. Employers can contract to give employees paid time off for holidays, but they don't have to. They are forbidden only from discriminating on the basis of things like sex, race and religion.
Nothing mandates that they give holiday pay to employees who are paid by the hour. It is perfect legal for an employer to decide to give full time employees paid time off and not to give hourly or part time employees paid time off holidays. If the employer follows its own written policy consistently, any approach the employer decides to take is acceptable.
In a competitive industry, employers feel pressure to offer better benefits to employees in order to prevent them from jumping ship. Similarly, if a union is involved, the employer may agree more readily to contract for holiday pay.
Premium Pay for Holiday Work
Some businesses, like restaurants, do not close over holidays . A question closely aligned with who is entitled to holiday pay is whether those employees forced to work are entitled to premium pay. The short answer is no, employees are not entitled to time and a half or double time when they have to work on Thanksgiving or Christmas.
It is quite common for an employer to give extra pay to employees who must work on a national holiday while most people are home celebrating. But neither federal nor state law requires the employer to do this. Many employers wouldn't think about making employees work on Christmas without rewarding them with more money per hour than they would get on an ordinary work day. But some don't, and government leaves it pretty much completely up to the agreement between employer and employee. The idea is that if the employees feel they deserve more than they are getting, they can move to another establishment.
No laws, state or federal, mandate that an employer must give employees holiday pay. As long as the employer doesn't make discriminatory rules about paying for holiday vacation time, the law doesn't care.
Teo Spengler earned a J.D. from U.C. Berkeley's Boalt Hall. As an Assistant Attorney General in Juneau, she practiced before the Alaska Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court before opening a plaintiff's personal injury practice in San Francisco. She holds both an M.A. and an M.F.A in creative writing and enjoys writing legal blogs and articles. Her work has appeared in numerous online publications including USA Today, Legal Zoom, eHow Business, Livestrong, SF Gate, Go Banking Rates, Arizona Central, Houston Chronicle, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pearson, Quicken.com, TurboTax.com, and numerous attorney websites. Spengler splits her time between the French Basque Country and Northern California.