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FAQ About Working Holidays

Thomas M. Lee

Hours worked on holidays, Saturdays, and Sundays are treated like hours worked on any other day of the week. California law does not require that an employer provide its employees with paid holidays, that it close its business on any holiday, or that employees be given the day off for any particular holiday. If an employer closes its business on holidays and gives its employees time off from work with pay, such a circumstance exists pursuant to a policy or practice adopted by the employer, pursuant to the terms of a collective bargaining agreement, or pursuant to the terms of an employment agreement between the employer and employee, as there is nothing in the law that requires such a practice. Additionally, there is nothing in the law that mandates an employer pay an employee a special premium for work performed on a holiday, Saturday, or Sunday, other than the overtime premium required for work performed in excess of eight hours in a workday or 40 hours in a workweek.

Q. Last week I worked eight hours on the 4th of July holiday, which fell on Wednesday. For the whole week I worked 40 hours. When I got my paycheck this week I was paid for 40 hours at my straight time rate. Aren’t I entitled to extra pay, of at least double time, for working on a holiday?

A. There is nothing in state law that mandates an employer pay an employee a special premium for work performed on holidays, Saturdays, or Sundays, other than the overtime premium required for work in excess of eight hours in a workday or 40 hours in a workweek. Unless your employer has a policy or practice of paying a premium rate for working on a holiday, or you are subject to a collective bargaining or employment agreement that contains such a term, your employer is only required to pay you your regular rate of pay for all the straight time hours worked on the holiday, and the overtime premium required for work in excess of eight hours in a workday or 40 hours in a workweek. Since you did not work over eight hours on the holiday, or more than 40 hours during the workweek, you were paid correctly.

Q. My employer is open for business on every holiday, some of which I have to work. Isn’t this against the law?

A. No. There is nothing in state law that mandates that an employer must close its business on any particular day, if at all. It is up to your employer to select which days, if any, it chooses to be open and closed for business, and if your employer is open on a holiday and schedules you to work that day, there is nothing in the law that obligates your employer to pay you anything but your regular pay and any overtime premium for all overtime hours worked.

Q. Last week we were closed for business on Monday to celebrate Memorial Day. Consequently, I worked Tuesday through Saturday that week, eight hours each day. When I got my paycheck this week I was paid for 48 hours last week at my straight time rate. Shouldn’t eight of those hours be paid at time and one-half, the overtime rate, since I was paid for more than 40 hours in the workweek?

A. No, you were paid correctly. In this situation, even though you did not work on the holiday your employer chose to pay you for it, which it has the absolute right and discretion to do. However, the determination of whether overtime pay is due is based upon hours worked, more than eight in a workday or more than 40 in a workweek, and not upon pay received. Thus, since you did not work more than eight hours in any one workday, or more than 40 hours in the workweek, you are not entitled to any overtime pay for the workweek.

Q. We get 11 holidays off each year without pay. My sister gets the same 11 holidays off, and she gets paid for all of them. Is my employer breaking the law because he’s not paying us for these holidays when he’s required to, even though we don’t work on any of them?

A. No, your employer is not breaking the law. There is nothing in state law that mandates that employees be paid for holidays that are not worked.

Please note that the information I am providing here in this entry, or in my website is NOT to be construed as legal advice nor is it meant to form an attorney-client relationship. For a free legal consultation by phone, please call or email me anytime.

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