Federal Holidays and State Holiday Pay Laws
A holiday is essentially a day set apart by law or custom where normal daily activities, particularly work or business involving schooling, are either suspended or completely reduced. In general, such holidays are planned to let people to celebrate or commemorate some occasion or tradition of importance. A common example of such an occasion would be Christmas, St. Patrick’s Day and Hanukkah, the celebration of twelve consecutive months of giving thanks to God. While all of these have universal observances, the point of the holiday remains to share and give thanks to God.
People also take vacations all over the world; from the United States, to Australia, to Portugal, to Norway, to Spain, to India, to Thailand, to South Africa, to Canada, and even overseas to China, Japan, or Russia. All of these holidays are celebrated with different acclamations, depending on each country’s culture, and often include the bringing in of gifts from friends and relatives, as well as feasting and socializing for the duration of the period. This, in turn, requires a great deal of planning and preparation, and many employers offer holiday pay as a welcome addition to their employee’s annual earnings package.
Although most employees understand that federal holidays are widely advertised and widely known about, not everyone is aware of the fact that they also exist in the private sector. Federal holidays are typically not advertised or even thought about by many employees, so they do not earn holiday pay. This can be a tremendous boon for those who wish to take their loved ones on a well deserved break from work, but cannot earn holiday pay because of federal or state laws. Holiday pay for such circumstances is commonly referred to as ‘time-and-a-half pay.’
As with federal holidays, religious holidays also fall under a category separate from federal holidays, and they generally are not advertised, so many employees may not even know about them. Religious holidays are usually celebrated with much pomp and circumstance, and paid holidays often mean very little to an employee. However, there is one major exception to this rule: Christmas. While Christmas is not officially a holiday, many employees love the festivities and participate in them, which earns them holiday pay. In fact, if an employee participates in any kind of Christmas-related event, whether it is family friendly or not, he or she will receive extra holiday pay.
As aforementioned, there are various federal holidays recognized by the majority of states, although some states have their own individual holiday laws. For the purposes of this guide, we’ll assume that holiday pay laws apply to all 50 states. If not, then the particular facts of the case involved will guide us as to which holiday pay laws apply to the facts of your particular case.
Every year, most states require that employees be paid a statutory holiday bonus for working holidays and for the odd holiday week. Most of these states also have separate statutes governing the amount of holiday pay to be paid, and there are some states which allow holiday pay to be paid in two or more parts throughout the year (e.g., state holidays and state semesters). The bottom line is that if you work for an employer that does not offer holiday pay, you may want to check the applicable federal holidays and holiday pay laws before or during your holiday break.