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Holiday Pay: Know Your Rights

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Holiday Pay: Know Your Rights

By Carolyn Hauck on December 16, 2014

When we think about the holidays, we generally think about workers taking the day off to be with family and friends. And many of us assume that our employers will pay our wages for the day off. But are employers required to give its employees holiday pay?

The short answer: No, holiday pay is not a federal right.

Most U.S. workers who are given holiday pay are exempt employees, or rather full-time, salaried employees, who are given holiday pay as a fringe benefit. Companies often offer fringe benefits like holiday pay and vacation pay to their employees, but are not required under law to do so.

For other types of employees like non-exempt (hourly) and part-time employees, holiday pay depends upon the employee contract you signed with your employer when you started at the company.  Companies will sometimes pay its employees the same rate as overtime (time and a half) on holidays, but again, this all depends on the employer’s discretion. If you wanted to take a holiday off at a company that isn’t closed on a holiday, you would have to use your PTO (paid time off).

Sick pay

But what if you’re sick around the holidays? Will you still be given holiday pay? Generally speaking, most employees must work the day before and the day after a holiday to receive holiday pay. If you miss work the day before or after the holiday due to illness, the employer can use your sick pay instead of paying you holiday pay. Again, this is a general practice, so check with your employee handbook or HR for your company’s policy.

Religious accommodations

Employers are required to allow reasonable accommodations for religious practices, which means they do need to give you the day off to observe your religion’s holiday, but this doesn’t mean they are required to give you holiday pay. Most companies will allow you to use your vacation time to observe a religious holiday.

Frustrated or confused with your employer’s holiday pay policy? Speak with a Legal Expert now about your specific situation.