As we enter into the holiday season (no matter how different it may look this year than in year’s past), our Los Angeles employment lawyers decided this was a good time to review employer obligations for holiday pay, hours, time off requests and more.
The following are frequently asked questions pertaining to holiday work:
- Is my employer required to give me time off for the holidays if I ask? Not in California. The only exception is a religious holiday accommodation (more on that later). Any time that you work on the weekend or a holiday will be treated the same as if you were working any other day. As noted by the California Department of Industrial Relations, your employer is under no obligation to give you paid holidays (though depending on the type of business, many do as an employment perk). Furthermore, your employer is not required to close its business on any holiday (though many do for select holidays, like Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve and/or New Year’s Day).
- Does my employer have to pay me extra if I work on the holidays? Again, not in California, though some employers will do this voluntarily. Such additional pay or bonuses would be dictated not by state law, but by company policy. (Employers should make it a point to ensure their holiday wages policies are clearly communicated to all employees beforehand.) In the past, state lawmakers have proposed bills that would have compelled some companies to pay double wages if requiring employees to report to work on Thanksgiving. However, these have never gained real steam, and with the pandemic’s blow to the economy this past year, it’s unlikely to be a significant flashpoint this next legislative session either.
- Does my employer need to accommodate me on holidays I can’t work due to religious observation? Yes, but the accommodation request must be reasonable. The “reasonableness” of a request for accommodation is really done on a case-by-case basis, and will depend on the parameters of the accommodation requested as well as the industry. For some employers, working during the holidays is considered an essential function. What we as employment lawyers would be carefully examining is whether employees of other religions requesting similar accommodations were granted them while you were denied. Employers should take care to communicate any holiday work policy expectations at the outset of employment, preferably in writing in a standard employee handbook.
- My payday falls on a holiday and my employer is closed that day. Will I still get paid? The DIR explains that in this situation (assuming the holiday is among those listed in the state government code), employers can pay you on the next business day.
- If my employer is closed on a holiday and I work Tuesday through Saturday, eight hours each, and get a paycheck for 48 hours at my straight time rate, am I getting cheated on overtime? In that case, no. It’s true that normally, any hours in a workweek that you work over 40 must be paid at time-and-a-half. However, if you didn’t work the holiday but your employer paid you for it anyway (as is within their discretion), you aren’t entitled to overtime pay on those hours because entitlement to overtime is based on the hours you actually worked – not on what you were paid.
Even though none of these scenarios indicates employer wrongdoing, there are plenty of situations in which employers do bend the rule – holidays or not. If you think your employer has been paying you unfairly, our L.A. employment lawyers help answer your questions in a free initial consultation.
Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 949-375-4734.
Holidays, California Department of Industrial Relations