Do hourly workers have a right to holiday pay on certain days?

The final weeks of each year include a cluster of popular holidays. From Thanksgiving in November to New Year’s Day on the 1st of January, the winter holiday season is often full of travel, family get-togethers and celebrations.

Many people prefer to take these special days off of work, and some companies automatically shut down for major holidays. However, people in a variety of careers, from restaurant workers and retail staff to medical professionals may have to work over the holidays.

What are your rights as an hourly worker when the holidays come around? Are there laws that entitle you to time off? Do you have a right to higher than normal holiday pay?

While the holidays may be federal, rules about time off are not

The federal government has established a number of holidays that they recognize. It is common for certain professional institutions, including the post office and even banks, to close on these holidays. Many other businesses stay open and operational.

If a company has an internal policy to give workers certain days off or to pay them extra, often time and a half, for accepting shifts on a holiday, you can expect your employer to fulfill those obligations as outlined in your employee handbook or work contract.

However, if your employer does not offer incentive pay on holidays, they are not in violation of the law. They have no obligation to give you paid time off or extra wages for working on a holiday. Their only real obligation is to make reasonable efforts to accommodate your religious observances. 

Some employers use the holidays to get unpaid overtime labor

The holidays can bring a rush of demands at retail shops and even restaurants as people plan their get-togethers and buy gifts. Extra traffic at your place of employment can easily lead to more cleaning and stocking projects.

As an hourly worker, you deserve overtime wages if your employer requires that you put in more than 40 hours during a week. Make sure you assert that right if your employer tries to push you to put in extra time off the clock or to clock out and stay on the job during your shift. Employees whose employers violate their rights may be able to take legal action to claim the wages they should have received.