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.
What are the 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:
- Tuesday, January 1: New Year’s Day
- Monday, January 21: Martin Luther King Jr. Day
- Monday, February 18: President’ Day
- Monday, May 27: Memorial Day
- Thursday, July 4: Independence Day
- Monday, September 2: Labor Day
- Monday, October 14: Columbus Day / Indigenous Peoples Day
- Monday, November 11: Veterans Day
- Thursday, November 28: Thanksgiving Day
- Wednesday, December 25: Christmas Day
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:
- Nevada’s Nevada Day falls on the last Friday in October of every year
- Georgia’s holiday that celebrates its founding on February 12, 1733
- Wisconsin has several, from Casimir Pulaski Day on March 4 to Robert La Follette Sr. Day on June 14
- Hawaii celebrates its native royalty on March 26 and June 11
That means that it’s worth a look at your local and state holidays as well as federal ones.
Can I require employees to work on federal holidays?
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.
Can I offer holidays in addition to the 2019 federal holidays?
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.