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Holiday pay

My employer had me work on Labor Day. I just got my paycheck and he only paid me my regular hourly rate. Shouldn’t I receive overtime for working on a holiday? Is he even allowed to be open on holidays? Shouldn’t I be entitled to paid holidays?

While Labor Day is indeed a federal and state holiday, your employer is not required to pay you overtime unless it actually constitutes overtime work, nor is he required to give you the day off. Even though it’s not legally required, the vast majority of private employers do provide their employees with some paid holidays.

California law does not require that employees receive paid holidays, or that businesses close on any specified day, or that employees be given the day off for any particular holiday. Also, it is entirely up to an employer whether to provide paid holidays, and the law does not require that employees receive a special premium for work performed on a holiday.

Business owners may decide when they are open or closed, or they may choose to never close, even on holidays.

Some employers will require that employees attend work the scheduled workday before the holiday and the workday after the holiday in order to receive holiday-related pay. The reasoning behind this is to make it less likely that employees will call in sick or not come into work in order to “stretch” the holiday.

Other employers give employees “floating holidays,” where the employee can take the holiday at their own scheduled convenience. Floating holidays are considered vacation time by the Labor Commissioner. If employers choose to provide floating holidays, they must remember that vacation time cannot be forfeited once earned, and must be paid out at the end of employment. Employers can cap the number of floating holidays that employees accrue.

Any written holiday policy should list which holidays are observed, who is eligible for holiday pay and at what rate, and any conditions the employer imposes, such as requiring the employee to work the days before and after the holiday. Employers may state that only employees who actually perform work on the holiday will be compensated, if that is the case.

Any “hours” that an employee receives as holiday pay without being earned through actual work do not count as hours worked for purposes of calculating overtime. If you work a 40-hour workweek, and then were paid an additional eight hours for a holiday, you would not receive overtime pay for the additional eight hours.

Mary Luros is a business law attorney with Hudson & Luros LLP in Napa, and can be reached at The information provided here is not legal advice, nor does it form an attorney-client relationship with the author. The author makes no representations as to the reliability or accuracy of the above information.

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