Does your boss remind you of Ebenezer Scrooge? He might if he doesn’t pay you for Christmas — and the bad news is that he doesn’t have to.
According to a report in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, there’s no law that says you have to be paid for a holiday, regardless of whether it’s Christmas, New Year’s Day, or the Fourth of July.
And if your boss is sufficiently Scrooge-like to make you work on Christmas, he doesn’t have to give you any additional compensation — unless you’re working more than 40 hours in that week.
Unions might have negotiated holiday pay — 79 percent of union members are paid for holidays, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics — while 75 percent of nonunion employees are also remunerated for holidays. Since it’s not a requirement, it’s a good thing for workers that many employers do pay employees for holidays (maybe they don’t want to look like a cross between Scrooge and the Grinch).
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The BLS says that 75 percent of the civilian workforce (about 116 million people) get paid holidays; that breaks down to 77 percent of workers for private industry getting paid, but slightly fewer — 67 percent in state and local government — able to count on a holiday check.
But lower-paid workers aren’t so fortunate. Just 40 percent of people in the lowest 10 percent of the workforce, based on the average wage, get paid holidays. It’s only slightly better — 53 percent — for workers in the lowest 25 percent.
The report cited Kyra Kudick, an associate editor at J.J. Keller & Associates, a compliance resource company, saying that being generous enough to pay on holidays helps in both employee recruitment and retention. Kudick said in the report, “Workers who feel valued and have a work-life balance want to stay with their employers.”
But that doesn’t mean employers necessarily care about being thought of as the 21st-century version of Scrooge — and if they don’t, there’s not much their workers can do about it. Kudick added, “[Employers] really can set their own requirements. With very, very few exceptions, an employer does not need to provide holiday pay on federally recognized holidays.”
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Federal and state laws may compel pay for hours worked beyond 40, and of course labor contracts with unions must be honored, but if an employer decides to stay open on a holiday, there’s no law that says he can’t keep his employees from being home for Christmas.