Know the rules for holiday pay
Issue: You work for a small company and are about to process the payroll for a cycle containing numerous holidays. Your company has no formal policy about holiday pay, but you want to make sure you are in compliance with federal law. 

Are you required, under the Fair Labor Standards Act, to pay employees who do not work Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day or New Year’s Day? Must you pay time and one-half or double time to employees who do work on a holiday? Also, in anticipation of developing a paid holiday policy, how prevalent are paid holidays among employees?

Answer:     The answer to the first two questions is no. The law does not require either holiday pay for those who have the holiday off or premium pay for those who don’t. However, once an employer agrees to pay employees for a holiday not worked or give a premium to those who work on a holiday, care must be taken in computing overtime for the holiday week.

Prevalence of paid holidays. Although once rare, paid holidays are now commonplace. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ survey of private industry (covering 103 million workers), paid holidays are granted to:
  • 79 percent of all workers
  • 91 percent of full-time workers
  • 43 percent of part-time workers
  • 91 percent of unionized workers
  • 78 percent of non-unionized workers
  • 86 percent of white-collar workers
  • 85 percent of blue-collar workers
  • 54 percent of service workers
  • 74 percent of workers in small firms (less than 100 employees); and
  • 86 percent of workers in medium to large firms (more than 100 employees).
Source: Employee Benefits in Private Industry 2003, U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, USDL 03-489, September 17, 2003.
[ Return to top of document ]