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You are Here: Home > Wages & Pay > Holiday Pay - Paid Holidays

Holiday Pay - Paid Holidays

Federal employees are entitled to receive holiday pay for work time off. Paid holidays for Federal employees are established annually by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), based on a "holiday pay law" that is specifically for Federal employees.

However, there is no Federal "holiday pay law" that makes paid holiday time off mandatory for private-sector employees. In fact, there is no Federal law that requires private-sector employers to give employees any work time off on holidays, whether with or without holiday pay.

Of course, private-sector employers must pay their employees for working on holidays. But, under Federal law, employers don't have to pay overtime to eligible employees for holiday work, unless the employees work more than 40 hours in the same workweek.

When due, private-sector employers are not required to pay more for holiday overtime work than the standard overtime rate, the same rate as for any other workday.

Did you know? The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is the "main pay law" so to speak, because it regulates equal pay, minimum wage and overtime pay at the Federal level for most employees. But, it doesn't require holiday pay or even holiday time off. It also doesn't mandate more than the standard rate for holiday overtime work. In other words, under the FLSA, a holiday is the same as any other workday regarding hours and pay.

This might be confusing, because many private-sector employers have traditionally offered holiday pay to their employees for time off on so-called "legal holidays" or "legal paid holidays". But, there's really no such thing as a legal paid holiday for private-sector workers.

Legal paid holidays were established by Federal, state and local governments to close government offices in observance of public holidays, yet permit public-sector employees to still earn wages while their offices are closed.

Private-sector employers have established paid holidays too, which are similar to public-sector legal paid holidays. Some have also offered premium pay for work on holidays or more than the standard rate for holiday overtime work, such as double-time pay. But, private-sector employers have done so voluntarily as benefits to attract and retain employees, not because they were forced to by Federal law.

States may enact equivalent laws that are more generous than the FLSA. But, many states, if not all, have simply adopted the FLSA's absence of paid holiday provisions "as is" for private-sector employees. Some states have enhanced the FLSA overtime and minimum-wage provisions to the benefit of employees, but not specifically for holiday pay.

You don't have to just take this writer's word for it. To research your work state's laws regarding holiday pay, overtime holiday pay, legal paid holidays and related matters, start in State Labor Laws; alternately or additionally, contact the relevant state labor department or consult an attorney.

Did you know? Employment contracts and agreements, such as collective bargaining agreements, may mandate holiday pay and holiday overtime benefits (such as double-time pay for holiday work) that state and Federal laws don't.

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