As we approach the holiday season, many people inquire about their rights regarding holiday pay and time off under California law. Below is a list of common topics we come across every year.
Time off during the holidays
California law does not require employers to provide time off for the holidays (except for religious accommodations). The Division of Labor Standards Enforcement's website states as follows:
Hours worked on holidays, Saturdays, and Sundays are treated like hours worked on any other day of the week. California law does not require that an employer provide its employees with paid holidays, that it close its business on any holiday, or that employees be given the day off for any particular holiday.
No extra pay for working during the holidays
Employers are not required to pay employees extra pay or "holiday pay" for working on holidays. To the extent employers agree to do so, it is completely up to their discretion. While there have been attempts by California's legislature to pass bills requiring employers to pay double time for work done on certain holidays, none of them have been successful.
The employer's policy regarding holiday pay must be clearly communicated to employees
If the employer intends to pay for time off during the holidays, it must clearly set out that this benefit does not accrue to employees and that they must be employed during the specific holidays to receive the holiday pay.
Employers must provide reasonable religious accommodations
Employers must be aware of their employees' religious observances since they need to provide reasonable accommodations for employees due to religious reasons.
Employers may process payroll on the next business day if it falls on certain holidays and the employer is closed
If an employer is closed on holidays listed in the California Government Code, then the employer may pay wages on the next business day. The holidays listed in the Government Code are as follows:
January 1 — New Year’s Day
Third Monday in January — Martin Luther King Jr. Day
February 12 — Lincoln’s Birthday
Third Monday in February — Washington’s Birthday
Last Monday in May — Memorial Day
July 4 — Independence Day
First Monday in September — Labor Day
Second Monday in October — Columbus Day
November 11 — Veterans Day
Fourth Thursday in November — Thanksgiving Day
Day after Thanksgiving
December 25 — Christmas
Other days appointed by the governor for a public fast, thanksgiving or holiday