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Extended Holiday Hours Doesn’t Mean Overtime Pay

Retailers from Wal-Mart and Target all the way down to grocery stores have extended their holiday hours to accommodate frantic holiday shoppers. Some stores are even open 24 hours, leaving employees working long, grueling hours throughout the season, even on the actual holidays. And it’s not just limited to retail. Employees everywhere are feeling the “joy” of the holidays.

But does that mean you’ll be paid more? You’d think with all the extra hours you’re working, you’ll bring home one heck of a paycheck. That’s not necessarily the case. In fact, there are some things you need to know before you look at your check and do a double-take.

Here are some commonly asked questions we receive during the holidays regarding wages.

Am I owed overtime wages for working on a holiday?

Only if the hours worked go over your standard 40 hours. Otherwise, there is no extra pay. And no, there’s no “time and a half”. The FLSA doesn’t require employers to pay extra for working holidays. So before you decide to give your boss a piece of your mind, calculate your hours. However, if you happen to have an employee contract or union agreement indicating you have the right to extra holiday pay, you’re in luck.

If I don’t have to work a holiday, does my employer still have to pay me?

This is where you need to be clear as to whether you’re an exempt employee or not. Nonexempt employees must adhere to the rules outlined by the FLSA. If you’re an exempt employee, you’re required to receive a salary. However, if your employer takes deductions from your pay based on absences, you may lose that exemption and they’ll be required to pay you overtime.

Since it’s a federally recognized holiday, my employer has to give me the day off, right?

Simply put, no. Currently, there is no federal law in place requiring employers to give you a holiday off. And the only way you may be required to get the day off is if you have an employment contract or union agreement that specifies it. Make sure you’ve discussed with your employer the holidays you’re required to work. Not showing up to work because you assume you have a day off may lead to you finding yourself suddenly unemployed.

Am I entitled to time off due to my religion?

The FLSA does require employers to accommodate their employees’ religious beliefs, but it may not always mean you get the specific days off you want. If you do need to take some time off, be sure to give your employer advance notice. That way both of you can prepare for your absence. Keep in mind that this law only applies to companies with 15 or more employees, and if your employer can prove that there would be an “undue hardship” if they granted you the time off, then they can deny your request.

Can I be compensated for attending my company holiday party?

If your attendance is voluntary, then no. However, if your employer makes attendance at the party mandatory, then you may in fact be owed for your time. So make sure the rules are clear before you start spending that extra “party pay.” We hope that you have an enjoyable, stress-free holiday. But if you’re one of the lucky millions that have to work this holiday season, we hope we’ve helped you understand your rights when it comes to compensation.

And if you’re owed overtime pay and need someone to help you get it, give us a call.

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