Holidays at Work: A Legal Roundup

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on October 25, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Halloween. Thanksgiving. Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Year's. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and who can forget National Bloody Mary Day? We're diving headlong into the holiday season, when we're going to want some time off work to celebrate.

Are we allowed to take time off? Can that time off be paid? And if we do work, can we get paid extra? What if we're one of the thousands of seasonal employees just brought in for the holiday rush? Here are the top five questions, and answers, regarding holiday work and the law.

1. Can Your Boss Make You Work on a Holiday?

Let's say you just want the day off -- you're not even asking to get paid. Does that matter? Can you get fired for not working on a holiday? That could depend on whether you work for the government or a private employer, and what the holiday in question is.

2. Do You Get Time Off for Any Religious Holiday?

As a general rule, there is no federal or state requirement that private employers provide time off for employees to celebrate religious holidays. However, the Civil Rights Act does require employers to "reasonably accommodate" an employee's religious practices, so many use "floating holidays" to give workers to take time off for religious days.

3. Ho, Ho, Hold My Pay? Paid Holidays Not Guaranteed by Law

Let's say you don't have to go to work on a holiday. Does that mean you get paid for sitting at home, going shopping, or observing religious practices? The bag news is: probably not. The good news? Maybe your employer is more generous than federal labor law requires!

4. Do I Get Paid Overtime on Federal Holidays?

And what if you do get the day off, but, for whatever reason, you need or want to work it. Can you get paid extra for coming in on a holiday? Again, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) only requires overtime pay for time worked over 40 hours in one week, while some state laws require time and a half for any hours over 8 in a single day. Outside of that, extra holiday pay will be up to your employer.

5. Do Seasonal Holiday Employees Have Any Rights?

If you were just hired to sell costumes in October, bag groceries in November, or wrap presents in December, you may be classified as an independent contractor rather than an employee. And that can have a big impact on your employment rights.

Related Resources:

Copied to clipboard