No holiday pay? That’s not necessarily a wage violation

For some in California, getting time off for the holidays is not an option, either because of the work they do or their employer’s decision to remain open and operating on those days. Others may have union rules or employment contracts that prohibit employers from making them work on certain holidays. Workers who do not fall under either of these categories may wonder if their employers are committing a wage violation by not offering extra pay or paid time off for the holidays.

Those who work for the federal government have 10 paid holidays built into the calendar, including Christmas and New Year’s Day. However, workers in other industries may not know until the week before a holiday whether they are scheduled to be on duty that day. While there is no federal law saying an employer must treat holidays differently from other work days, some employers offer one or more of the following:

  • Granting time off with no pay
  • Paying workers for certain holidays off
  • Moving holiday time off to another day if the holiday falls on a normal day off, such as Saturday
  • Paying employees extra money for working on holidays

Employers do violate the Fair Labor Standards Act if they fail to pay overtime when holiday hours cause employees to work more than 40 hours a week. It is also a wage violation if an employer closes on a holiday and deducts those hours from a salaried employee. Workers would be wise to review the company’s policies and ask for clarification of anything that is unclear. It may also be reasonable to seek legal advice if a California employer is using the holidays as a way to cheat workers of fairly earned wages.