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Do Employees Get Holiday Pay Legally?

A snowman asking if they are "getting paid to work"

The holiday season is among us, which means that it’s the season for raises, bonuses, and more. A lot of employees have expectations this time of year because many employers provide extra perks. Employers might give extra pay as incentive to work during the holidays, cash bonuses, extra time off, and more. With all of these different policies implemented by businesses, employees aren’t sure what they’re actually entitled to. What can employees expect when they work on a holiday?

Holiday Pay Requirements

Employers are not required by law to provide employees with holiday pay. In fact, the FLSA doesn’t require employers to pay employees extra for vacation, sick, or holidays. Employers need only to make sure that they follow minimum wage and overtime requirements when employees work on holidays.

“The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not require payment for time not worked, such as vacations or holidays (federal or otherwise). These benefits are generally a matter of agreement between an employer and an employee (or the employee’s representative).”

-Department of Labor

Holiday pay is entirely dependent on whom you work for and whether or not your union contract or company policy has certain requirements. Most employers provide employees with holiday pay and other benefits, but some businesses don’t participate. Business owners and managers understand that it’s not ideal to work on a holiday, which is why they offer these perks. They know how important the holidays are for most people, and they understand that employees take time away from their families to work; therefore, they offer holiday pay to thank their employees for spending time at work. Additionally, offering more compensation during a holiday is a great way to have ample staff during certain times of the year.

Holiday Pay Exceptions

Although most employees do not get holiday compensation throughout the year, federal employees do. In fact, they get 10 paid holidays each year. These include: 

  • New Year’s Day
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday
  • Washington’s Birthday (Presidents Day)
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day (4th of July)
  • Labor Day
  • Columbus Day
  • Veterans Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Christmas Day

Not only are federal employees entitled to holiday pay, but people under certain contracts qualify for holiday compensation as well. An employee under a work contract or union contract may have holiday/vacation pay protections. For instance, if the employee is under a government contract and meets the labor standards of the McNamara O’Hara Service Contract Act (SCA), holiday and vacation benefits apply when their contracts exceed $2,500. Additionally, those who meet standards of the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts may also qualify for holiday pay.

Next Steps

Whether or not you’re compensating employees with holiday pay, it’s wise to track their attendance and other expenses. Employers with accurate time tracking have access to valuable information that they might need later down the line. With accurate holiday tracking and bonus tracking, you’ll know who was out on a certain day, who used holiday time, when they took breaks, bonus amounts, and other important details. If you don’t have these records, you may be left wondering “what happened here?”

Don’t leave yourself with questions during the holiday season. Track time accurately today.

Free online timesheets

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