When running a small business, one of the most difficult processes to manage is the time off that your employees not only want but that you’re required to provide in the form of federal holidays.
Many first-time business owners don’t understand the rules around federal holidays. Is requiring employees to work on a federal holiday a possibility? Must you pay your employees for federal holidays even if they’re not working? Here’s some background information, as well as a list of 2019 federal holidays.
The best place to start when sorting out federal holidays 2019 is with a list of which holidays are federal holidays and what days they fall on the calendar in 2019. Here’s that list courtesy of the U.S. Court of Appeals:
These are the dates that comprise federal holidays in 2019, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t state and local holidays that are observed, either formally or informally. As the Washington Post has pointed out, there are a number of holidays that are only observed in one state:
That means that it’s worth a look at your local and state holidays as well as federal ones.
When it comes to the rules around employees working on federal holidays, there is no federal law that requires employers to give their workers the day off. Further, if an employer does give their employees holidays off, there’s no federal requirement for the time off to be paid time off at all.
Even holidays, federal or otherwise, do not necessitate a day off, federal law does require employers to offer reasonable accommodations for employees to celebrate their religious holidays. Floating holidays are one way that many businesses choose to handle this issue.
That said, holiday time off (and paid time off in particular) can go a long way in creating happy employees who stick around. If turnover is an issue for you or you’re looking to offer alternative benefits in lieu of more traditional ones like matching 401(k)s, paid holiday time off is one that is practically guaranteed to please.
There is nothing stopping an employer from declaring company-wide holidays for whatever they please, whether that’s a state holiday or even something as alternative as a company holiday.
If you’re going to require your employees to work federal and other more traditional holidays, it’s not a bad idea to offer alternative or “lesser” holidays off if you can.