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December 2017 - Holiday Pay – A Requirement or A Gift?

Corporate Policies The movie Christmas Vacation is a great example of assumptions going awry. Clark Griswold (a.k.a. Chevy Chase) is devastated when the monetary bonus he’s expecting turns out to be membership in the Jelly-of-the-Month Club. While you may not be expecting a holiday bonus, you could be looking forward to paid time off or even premium pay for holiday hours worked. But are you entitled to either?

In a word, ‘no.’ Here are some facts regarding holiday pay:

  • Neither Federal nor New Jersey State Law requires employees receive paid holiday time off.
  • If paid time off is offered, the time is paid at the employee’s regular rate; premium pay is not required.
  • Paid holiday hours are not included in the calculations to determine overtime eligibility for hourly employees.
  • Reasonable accommodations must be made for religious holidays; often, accommodations are in the form of vacation time or “floating” holidays.
  • Employers can have separate policies for different classifications of employees provided the policies are neither discriminatory nor inconsistent.

Having said all this, it’s important to note that most companies, including small businesses with full-time employees, do observe some holidays. The Society for Human Resource Management offers the following breakdown of the percentage of employers who offer time off, either paid or unpaid:

  • 97% for Thanksgiving and Christmas Day
  • 95% for New Year’s Day and Labor Day
  • 94% for Memorial Day
  • 76% for July 4th

Usually holiday pay is part of an overall employee benefits package, the specifics of which should be spelled out in the Employee Handbook. Employees should check their company’s specific policies to know what to expect and to avoid surprises.

On that note, we wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Happy, Healthy New Year!

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