What is Holiday Pay? Who Gets it?

Do you have employees that will be working on a holiday? Read this guide to learn how to keep things legal.


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Do seasonal workers get holiday pay? What about part-time workers?

Now that we’re entering the holiday season, you might be wondering what the deal is with holiday pay. One of the biggest questions you might have is whether or not your seasonal or part-time employees receive holiday pay.

This handy guide will tell you everything you need to know about paying your employees this holiday season.

What is holiday pay?

There are no special “holiday pay” rules. You must follow the minimum wage laws with your holiday workers just as you do for your permanent employees.

Editor’s Note: Check out “How to Build a Successful Holiday Pay Policy” for more information on best practices. 

Holiday pay is a gift to employees so they can take time off without losing wages. Sometimes, employers give double pay or time-and-a-half pay if an employee works on a holiday, but it’s not required by law.

Who is eligible for holiday pay?

Anyone who works on a holiday is required to be paid, however, it doesn’t have to exceed the employees’ normal pay rate.

Offering an increase in pay rate and labeling it “holiday pay” is a benefit that employers offer employees to help attract and retain top talent.

Are you required to pay seasonal or part-time workers holiday pay?

As an employer, you’re not required to pay seasonal or part-time workers “holiday pay.”

In their contract, most employers outline the pay structure of seasonal workers prior to onboarding. Offering a higher wage on holidays is usually used as a way to incentivize employees to work those days.

Should I provide employees with time off on holidays?

Currently, there is no federal law that requires employers to give their workers a holiday off of work. It’s usually done at the employer’s merit.

Additionally, if an employer does give their employees holidays off, they’re not required by law to pay employees for that time.

That said, just because it’s not a requirement for employers to give employees holidays off, or pay for any time off, there’s a reason why most employers offer it as a benefit. It’s used as a way to keep employees happy, productive, and satisfied. In today’s war for talent, it’s become more important than ever to do so.

What are common holidays?

  • New Year’s Day
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • Presidents’ Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Thanksgiving
  • Christmas

Do I have to recognize an employee’s observance of a religious holiday?

The federal law does not require employers to give a day off in observance of federal, or otherwise, holidays. However, federal law does require employers to offer reasonable accommodations for employees to celebrate their religious holidays. Floating holidays are one way that businesses make this accommodation.

Key takeaway

The bottom line is that employers are not required to give employees time off for holidays, nor are they required to offer any sort of increase in pay for working those holidays. They’re pretty much only mandated by law to make reasonable accommodations for employees celebrating religious holidays.

Despite that employers have no lawful obligation to offer holiday benefits, it’s highly encouraged that they do. It has become more important than ever for businesses to attract and retain top talent. If turnover is an issue for a business, its benefits, or lack thereof, could be a good indicator.


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