What Are Paid Holidays?

Holidays are workdays that employees are given off and still paid for. These days are often federal holidays, but can also be local or state holidays. Employees are paid what they would be paid on a normal workday.

Why Are Paid Holidays Important?

Paid holidays play an important role in the work-life balance of employees. Many employees plan trips or family events on or around holidays, so it is important to give that time off to employees. Here are a few other reasons paid holidays are important.

  • Chance to recharge. For some employees, taking time off can be hard to do, whether it’s because they don’t want to take a break from work or are scared about asking for time off. However, paid holidays give employees the opportunity to take time off and recharge without feeling guilty.
  • Celebration. Holidays being paid allows employees to enjoy the holidays and celebrate them without the stress of not being paid for those days.
  • Expected. Paid holidays aren’t required by employers, but many employees expect it. Employees want flexibility. Paid time off is one of the more important benefits employers can offer. In fact, 80 percent of workers are willing to take a lower-paying job if it offers more vacation time. Time off is expected when taking a job, and that includes paid holidays.

What Are the Most Common Paid Holidays?

The most common paid holidays include:

  • Christmas
  • New Year’s Day
  • Independence Day (4th of July)
  • Labor Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Thanksgiving

Less common but frequently paid holidays include:

  • New Year’s Eve
  • Christmas Eve
  • Black Friday (day after Thanksgiving)
  • President’s Day
  • Juneteenth
  • Employee’s birthdays
  • Election Day

How Do Paid Holidays Affect Hourly vs Salaried Employees?

Paid holidays are a benefit that should be offered to all full-time employees. However, there can be differences when it comes to paid holidays for hourly and salary employees.

Overtime Hours

Salaried employees get paid the same amount each week no matter how many hours they work, whereas hourly employees are paid by the hour. That distinction is important because typically, hourly employees are paid overtime for any hours they work over 40. However, during weeks that hourly employees receive holiday pay, those hours don’t go towards 40 hours. That is because the FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act) overtime calculation is based on the number of hours an employee works, not the amount they are paid. Holiday pay is considered paid time off.

Working on Holidays

Typically, when hourly employees work on a paid holiday, they will be paid time and a half for every hour they work that day. If a salaried employee decides to work on a paid holiday, or is asked to do so by their employer, they will not be paid extra unless the employer decides to give them some kind of bonus for working the holiday. This is because salaried employees get paid the same amount each week regardless of how much they work.

Number of Hours Paid

Most companies only offer paid holidays to full-time employees (who work 30 or more hours a week). For full-time hourly employees, common practice is to pay an employee for eight hours of work on the holiday. Salaried employees get paid their normal pay rate for the pay period. Most companies do not offer paid holidays to part-time hourly employees. However, some companies choose to pay those employees based on the average number of hours they would work on a normal workday. This is not legally required.

Tips to Properly Handle Paid Holidays

When it comes to paid holidays, a lot can fall on the HR team. Many employees look to the HR team to know what holidays are celebrated and how they are celebrated. Here are some tips on handling paid holidays properly.

Tip 1: Consistency

HR teams should be consistent with all their employees when it comes to paid holidays. You shouldn’t give paid holidays only to executives or certain groups of people. This can create disruption, resentment and chaos between employees and departments.

Tip 2: Communication

Be sure to communicate properly and often when it comes to holidays. Make sure employees know which holidays are paid holidays and what days employees will be given off if the holiday falls on a non-work day. This should all be outlined in the company handbook, but should also be communicated during the week leading up to the holiday.

Tip 3: Encourage Time Away

Paid holidays are an opportunity for employees to spend time with their families and not worry about work. It shouldn’t mean employees don’t come into the office but are still trying to get work done at home. HR can set the example of not working by not working themselves. Everyone needs a break from work at times, and what better time than a paid holiday?