Decorative image for Holidays
June 12th, 2018

The summer can bring up several employment issues, including discipline and dress code violations, but one of the biggest issues is just getting employees to show up! With holidays and vacations, warmer summer months often result in lower attendance, which can translate to a loss in productivity. Time off requests also pose a lot of administrative problems, and employers should be sure to enforce a clear policy to ensure fairness. 

Know which days are considered holidays

The first step in dealing with holidays and time off requests is to identify which days are holidays and if you are required to provide time off for them.

 Many states have not enacted laws requiring private employers to provide paid holidays or holiday time off to their employees. Check with your state's department of labor to see what your requirements are.

 Most larger private businesses observe the following federal holidays:

  • New Year’s Day
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (3rd Monday in January)
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Veterans’ Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Friday after Thanksgiving
  • Christmas Day.

Smaller businesses often only observe the following:

  • New Year’s Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Christmas Day.

Employers should decide which of these days will be given off and communicate that decision clearly to employees. They may also elect to pay time and half for such holidays to reward employees for coming to work and to encourage staff to continue business as usual. If employers chose to offer this special wage they should draft a policy that clearly outlines which days will qualify. 

What to include in a policy

In drafting a holiday policy, the following topics should be considered:

  • which employees are eligible
  • what holidays will be recognized
  • whether holidays will be paid and at what rate
  • conditions for receipt of holiday pay
  • treatment of holidays during vacations and leaves.

See an example below.

Beyond drafting a policy employers should do their best to treat employee time off requests fairly. While there is something to be said for the "first asked, first given" rule, it is not fair for some employees to be stuck working all holidays. Employers should keep a calendar of days off, and try their best to spread the free time and responsibilities evenly among employees. 



ABC Company will grant paid holiday time off to all eligible full-time employees.  Regular part‑time employees will receive pay for each designated holiday pro rated based on their normally scheduled hours compared to a regular 40 hour work week.  Holiday pay will be calculated based on the employee’s straight time pay rate as of the date of the holiday. 

ABC Company observes the following as paid holidays for regular full-time employees: 

•     New Year’s Day                

•      Memorial Day              

•     Thanksgiving

•     Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 

•      Independence Day        

•     Day After Thanksgiving        

•      Labor Day                     

•     Christmas Day 

A holiday that falls on a weekend will be observed on either the preceding Friday or the following Monday to coincide with local custom. 

To be eligible for holiday pay, an employee must have worked his or her regularly scheduled hours on the workday before and the workday after the holiday, or have been on approved vacation or other paid leave.  If an employee is on vacation/leave when a holiday is observed, the employee will be paid for the holiday and will be granted an alternate day of vacation/leave at a later date. 

Any hourly, non‑exempt employee required to work on a holiday will receive double‑time payment for the hours worked. 

Paid time off for holidays will not be counted as hours worked for purposes of determining overtime. 

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