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How Should California Workers Be Paid for Working on Holidays?

California wage and hour law trucking lawyer attorney employee

“When I seek out professional advice, I don’t want B.S. I want it straight up, with no double talk. I figure you do also. I always use plain English, with no sugarcoating, no B.S. lawyer talk, and no double talk-just old fashioned, unsweetened, unvarnished truth-just the way that I would want it.” -Bill Turley

For many employees, the only thing better than getting a day off is getting a day off with pay. However, not all workers enjoy these benefits, and some will even be barred from working because their employer has chosen to close for the day. The key to getting fair pay from your employer is understanding your rights—particularly when it comes to working on holidays.

Understanding Holiday Pay and Overtime Rules in California

There are ten officially recognized federal holidays in the United States: New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Presidents' Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. California recognizes four additional holidays, including Lincoln Day, Cesar Chavez Day, Admission Day, and Good Friday. However, although these days are recognized under state and federal laws, workers are not guaranteed to have the days off—or even to receive extra pay for working.

Here are the most common questions workers have about working on recognized holidays:

  1. Is it illegal to make employees work on holidays? No. As many businesses remain open on holidays (including movie theaters, restaurants, and gas stations), employers need workers to serve customers. California law does not require employers to provide any specific days off from work, so any holiday policy your business has in place is determined by the employer. Depending on your workplace rules, an employer can require you to work on a holiday or provide a paid or unpaid day off if he chooses to close the business on a holiday.
  2. Does my employer have to pay more on holidays? Both the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and California state law do not require a premium holiday rate of pay. In addition, no law requires employees to be paid for holidays that they do not work, even if the business is closed for the day. It is up to individual employers to offer premium rates to employees who work on holidays.
  3. Should I get overtime for working holidays? When holidays are worked, they are treated like any other workday in the week (for example, employees may be owed overtime if a holiday is part of a week where they have worked over 40 hours). However, if employees are given holiday pay for a day off, the holiday will not count toward overtime since the employee did not actually work on that day.
  4. When do I get paid? If a regular payday falls on a holiday, employers must either pay employees on a business day before the holiday or on the first business day afterward.
  5. Who should work on a holiday? There are no laws governing which employees can be asked to work on holidays. Employers are free to offer incentives (such as premiums) for working, as well as refuse requests for time off. However, employers must be fair and non-discriminatory in assigning holiday shifts to workers.

If you still have questions about California overtime pay, download a free copy of our book, The Ultimate Straight Talk Guide to Getting Your Hard Earned Wages Back.

William Turley
“When I seek out professional advice, I don’t want B.S., I want it straight up. I figure you do also.”

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