In the retail sales environment, holidays are often the busiest and most profitable times and such businesses must schedule adequate staffing. But are employers legally obligated to provide any particular paid holidays off for employees? Car dealerships often offer paid holidays for employees whose departments are closed on the major holidays, and even sales department employees often have paid holidays on Thanksgiving and Christmas. The common practice of offering some level of paid holiday benefits can create the expectation or impression that paid holidays are a legal obligation.
In fact, there is NO obligation for employers to offer paid holidays to employees. Nor is there an obligation to pay any extra compensation to employees who are required to work on a holiday, or to offer employees holidays off at all. However, once an employer does choose to offer paid holidays, it should be careful to have a written policy that clearly defines which holidays fall within the policy, how holiday pay is calculated for each job classification, and whether the policy applies any differently for employees in certain job categories or departments. It is also important for employers to specify in the policy whether holiday pay will be provided if the holiday falls on a day that is not the employee’s normally scheduled work day, including holidays that occur during a leave of absence. As paid holidays are not legally mandated, employers have the flexibility to apply their own conditions and parameters to their policies, as long as the policies are not otherwise discriminatorily applied. Employers should also remain mindful that may need to make exceptions to scheduling work on holidays if needed for a religious accommodation.
Accordingly, It is very important that holiday policies are carefully drafted and we recommend that you involve experienced employment counsel in developing or revising a holiday policy.