Confused about the subject of overtime and holiday pay? Getting paid what you are legally owed is important to all workers — and having the right information about this area of employee rights will help give you the clarity you need to make the right legal decisions.
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 about overtime and holiday pay:
Am I owed overtime wages for working on a holiday?
Under Federal law, and Florida law, you are owed overtime wages for working on a holiday only if the hours actually worked go over 40 hours in the applicable workweek. Otherwise, there is no extra pay. And no, there’s no “time and a half” for working a holiday.
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 employment contract or union agreement indicating you have the right to extra holiday pay, you’re in luck. Check the language carefully and consult a workers rights attorney if you believe your contract has been violated.
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. If you are paid hourly and you do not work a holiday because the office is closed, you are not entitled to pay for the holiday, unless the employer has agreed to extend holiday pay to its employees as a benefit of employment.
If your employer relies on the fact that you are a salaried employee and deducts a day’s pay for a holiday when the office is closed and no work is available, the employer may lose the exception from overtime and pay the otherwise exempt employee overtime pay.
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 private 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. If your company has a policy for asking for time off — it is important that you abide by it and give them the advance notice as required. (Even if you ask for the day off, that does not mean you are guaranteed to receive it).
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?
Religious beliefs and how this relates to your work can also be a confusing area when it comes to overtime and holiday pay. Federal law and Florida law require that an employer make a reasonable accommodation for their employees’ religious beliefs, and prohibit discrimination on the basis of religion. However, that does not always mean you get the specific days off you want. Depending on your company’s employment policies, you may or may not be paid for the holiday if you don’t work it.
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 Federal laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of religion only apply 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 overtime and holiday pay.
And if you have worked true overtime that you have not been paid for, we’re here to help.
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Last updated December 6, 2018