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Do I Have to Pay Time-and-a-Half for Holidays?

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By Ephrat Livni, Esq. on December 28, 2015 2:58 PM

The holiday season is mostly behind us, but there is still a big one ahead. New Year's Day is a secular occasion that inspires celebration in people of many cultures. We raise a glass, relieved that the past is done, and we resolve to make the year ahead better than the last.

New Year's celebrations can be a great way to clear the slate. But the law does not require private employers to pay time-and-a-half to workers who toil on special occasions. Nor do employers have to give employees time off to mark the special day. While state laws vary, with few exceptions, private employers are rarely obligated to provide holiday pay.

Employer Obligations

Some employees have holiday pay rates or paid holidays promised in their contracts or collective bargaining agreements. Those workers are entitled to extra pay on special occasions or paid time off based on an arrangement made before their employment began.

However, there is no federal law mandating extra pay or paid time off for holidays for employees. If a worker without such a promise in their contract demands a paid day off, or just refuses to work a holiday shift, you can fire them with no legal repercussions. At-will employees can be relieved of their duties for any reason or no reason at all.

Independent Contractors

You're the boss, so you decide what to do with your employees. But how to you handle independent contractors?

Many workers in the US are not technically employees but free agents of sorts, ostensibly self-employed although working for organizations. Independent contractors are not covered by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and have none of the protections guaranteed by the law to employees. For these workers there is no holiday pay and there are no paid days off, which might suggest that this is a perfect arrangement for employers.

But of course there is more to creating a thriving business than just giving and getting the minimum. Sometimes the boss should go beyond bottom line, and even the law.

Beyond the Law

Beyond the law, there is good will, the human spirit, and karma. If you want employees to feel happy about working for you and inclined to do the right thing for your business, let your decisions be governed by humanist principles. If you can afford it, give people holiday pay or a paid break. You may be pleasantly surprised by what you get back.

Talk to a Lawyer

If you have questions about employment law or your business operations, speak to an attorney. Counsel can help you explore your options and ensure you make decisions that work for your business and workers.

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