Does my employer have to let me have Christmas off? Part 2

Welcome back! Last week we looked at whether your employer has to allow you time off for Christmas or any other holiday.  This week we are going to consider two related issues- whether your employer has to pay you if you have a day off for a holiday and whether your employer has to pay any additional “holiday pay” if you work on a holiday.

Question 1- Does my employer have to pay me for time off on a holiday?

Whether your employer has to pay you for time off on a holiday depends on a few things.  The first thing we need to consider is whether you are paid on an hourly or salary basis, and the second thing is whether this is a holiday you have chosen to take off or a day on which your company is closed.

If you are paid on an hourly basis, there is no law generally requiring your employer to pay you for any time you are not working.  You employer may offer paid time off, holiday pay, or some other benefit that allows you to be paid on a holiday, but you are only legally entitled to pay for hours actually worked.   That said, your employer should not penalize you for taking time off for a religious reason because that would be religious discrimination.  For example, if you request a day off for a religious observance and would normally be allowed to use your paid vacation time for it, your employer should not deny you your normal vacation pay, but is not required to pay you for the time off if you would not be paid for a non-religious absence.

If you are paid on a salary basis, we have to consider whether this is time you have taken off due to your own actions or choices or your employer’s.  If you would be allowed to work but have chosen not to for a holiday, and miss an entire day, your employer can reduce your pay by a whole day’s worth of your salary for that day.  However, if you are salary (and exempt) and your company is closed for a holiday, such that you are not able to work even if you want to, you are entitled to your normally salary pay for that time.

Question 2- Does my employer have to pay any additional “holiday pay” if I work on a holiday?

No.  There is no law that requires employers to pay anything more than regular pay for hours worked on a holiday.  There may, however, be a union agreement or other contract that requires additional pay for holiday work.  Also, a non-exempt employee who works more than forty hours in a week is entitled to one and one-half her regular rate of pay for overtime hours, which could make hours worked on a holiday qualify as overtime hours.  However, generally, there is no statutory right to “holiday pay.”

If you have any questions about these or other employment law issues, call Gold Star Law!  Happy holidays!