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Calif., Ohio Legislators Want Mandatory Overtime Holiday Pay

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By Mark Wilson, Esq. on December 01, 2014 9:45 AM

As more and more businesses require -- as in, mandate -- that employees work on Thanksgiving in order to serve the throngs of customers who will show up at 6 a.m. on a holiday just to get a good deal on an X-Box, some businesses are bucking the trend. Costco, for example, won't be open on Thanksgiving, so you'll need to get your five-gallon buckets of liquid cheese somewhere else.

States, though, aren't pleased with this new trend, either. Last week, California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez introduced a bill that would require employers to double the pay of employees who work on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Overtime Pay, Declining to Work Holidays without Penalty

Federal law doesn't require overtime pay for weekends or holidays, unless that would put the employee at more than 40 hours for the week. While we don't have the text of the legislation yet (bills for the next session can't be introduced until December 1, says the Sacramento Business Journal), it apparently won't apply to police, fire, and medical providers, who receive triple pay for working holidays. And it will apply only to Thanksgiving and Christmas.

This isn't some wacky California thing, either. Ohio state Rep. Mike Foley introduced a bill in the Ohio General Assembly that would provide triple pay for retail employees and allow them to refuse to work on holidays without job sanctions. A Connecticut legislator plans to introduce a bill next year.

A Backlash in Favor of Family Togetherness

The timing of these bills is no coincidence. The news is rife with stories about how early stores will be open this year. Kmart appears to be the most aggressive in terms of Thanksgiving shopping, reports AOL's Daily Finance. Stores will open at 6 a.m, and remain open for 42 straight hours, meaning they'll finally close at midnight Saturday morning. And what's more, Kmart is telling employees that if they don't work, they could be fired.

Traditionally, the day after Thanksgiving marked the hard and fast beginning of the holiday shopping season. But retailers, eager for just a little more money, pushed back. In 2010, Sears and Toys 'R' Us opened at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving, and Kmart opened at 6 a.m. From that humble beginning, we're at a point where remaining closed on Thanksgiving is a novel exception.

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