Federal Labor Laws on Working Holidays
Nobody wants to work on a holiday, and when you require your employees to do so, it is likely you’ll receive some pushback. While the decision to forge ahead with operations on a day many other businesses are closed may have a negative impact on morale, you can take comfort that your employees won’t find loopholes in federal labor laws that require you to treat them differently when they work on holidays as with any other day.
Most federal labor laws stem from the Fair Labor Standards Act, which requires employers to pay all employees a minimum wage and sets the 40-hour week as the threshold to require overtime pay of 150 percent of a worker’s regular wage. The FLSA doesn’t provide oversight in regard to working on a holiday, so employers may treat the holiday as any other work day, as federal law doesn’t require premium pay or limit the length of a shift an employer may require employees to work on a holiday.
If you expect business to be extra heavy on a holiday and adjust schedules to meet the additional demand of the day, you’re required to pay overtime to all employees who work more than 40 hours in your designated workweek. For example, a worker at your hot dog stand who usually works Monday through Friday, may be asked to work on Saturday to meet the needs of a busy Independence Day. If this shift pushes the worker beyond 40 hours a week, she must receive overtime pay for extra hours. This is not to be confused with mandatory holiday pay.
You may pay premium holiday pay rates to your employees because of collective bargaining agreements or company policy as is necessary to staff your company on a holiday. If an employee earns additional pay as a bonus for working a shift, and works overtime hours during that shift, you can’t use holiday-pay bonuses as part of overtime payments. For example, if a worker who normally receives $8 per hour receives a $2 per hour bonus to work on a holiday, and receives overtime from that shift, you must pay him $15 per hour, or 1.5 times his pay rate for that day, in overtime, rather than $12 per hour, his normal overtime rate.
Salaried employees who are exempt from FLSA overtime requirements may be required to work on a holiday without receiving bonus pay. Individual employment contracts may preclude work on some holidays, however, or require bonuses for holiday shifts. In addition, you can’t adjust an exempt worker’s to reflect the loss of work time during a week with a holiday, as FLSA exemptions require you to pay the employees’ salary for each week he reports to work, not based upon the amount of work he does in that week.