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Paid v. Unpaid Holidays

JH asks: “If a company offers no benefits, what about national holidays, are the employees (salaried or hourly) made to work, or do they just have the day off with no pay, or have the choice of the day off or not?

Employers are not required to provide paid holidays to non-exempt employees. Unless an employer agrees to pay non-exempt employees for holidays, the employer is not required to pay for the holiday. An employer can require employees to work holidays without providing additional compensation.

This may not be true with respect to exempt salaried workers. To meet the exemption requirements under State and Federal law, most exempt workers must receive a “salary.” This means the employee will receive the pay regardless of the number of hours the employee works. There are limited instances when an employer can reduce an exempt employee’s weekly salary. See my April 2nd post regarding “Do I Have To Pay My Exempt Employees If They Are Sick?”

If the employer shuts down the office for less than a full week and the employee is ready, willing and able to work, deductions may not be made for the time when work is not available. If, on the other hand, the employer remains open on the holiday and the employee chooses not to perform work on that day, the employee will have absented himself or herself for personal reasons and the employer may be able to reduce the employee’s salary in proportion to the amount of time the employee is absent.

Many employers find that in order to attract quality talent they must provide some benefits, and paid holidays or increased rates for holiday work is a common benefit.

Whatever the policy is, the employer should ensure the policy is clearly stated in writing and provided to the employee. The employee handbook is the most common vehicle for disclosing company policies, but I have seen holiday policies in offer letters, employment contracts, or as separately posted and/or delivered policies.

The Law Office of Phillip J. Griego
95 South Market Street, Suite 520
San Jose, CA 95113
Tel. 408-293-6341
Original article by Robert E. Nuddleman, former associate of The Law Office of Phillip J. Griego.

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Phillip J. Griego represents employees and businesses throughout Silicon Valley and the greater San Francisco Bay Area including Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Los Altos, San Jose, the South Bay Area, Campbell, Los Gatos, Cupertino, Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Sunnyvale, Santa Cruz, Saratoga, and Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Benito, Mendocino, and Calaveras counties.