Three Myths About Holiday Pay for Employees Under the FLSA

Debunking common holiday pay law myths

Three Myths About Holiday Pay for Employees Under the FLSA 

With the November and December holidays approaching it is time to get some facts straight. There are a lot of myths and misunderstandings that have developed about how and what people must be paid. Much of this comes from the past practices that people learned from working for unionized companies, nonunion companies trying to remain that way, or larger companies trying to compete for workers. Time off laws under the FLSA are different depending on whether you are an exempt or a non-exempt employee.  Exempt employees are paid a salary, which must be paid to them for any work performed in a week.  Non-exempt employees are traditionally hourly paid workers.  It’s very important to understand this distinction when debunking common holiday pay law myths concerning the hourly or salary employee.

Myth 1: Employers must pay for national holidays.

Truth: There is NO obligation under the FLSA for employers to pay for holidays, assuming that no work occurred on that holiday. If you sat home and enjoyed football games or went to white sales your employer is under no legal obligation under the FLSA to pay you for that time.

Myth 2: If I work a holiday my employer must pay me double time.

Truth: Double time is an artifact of union contracts or pay practices designed to get people to work times or jobs that were unpopular. Since there is no obligation to pay for holidays there certainly is no obligation to pay more for them either. Companies may opt to pay extra to people who work holidays and many companies have. But that does not mean they are required to.

Myth 3: If a paid holiday falls on my day off the company is still required to pay me for it.

Truth: Let’s see if you have been paying attention. The answer is NO. But many companies have adopted the practice of doing so.

How Exempt vs. Non-Exempt Employee Impacts Paid Time Off Requests

It is important to note that these myths only apply to nonexempt employees. Exempt employees are paid a salary, which must be paid to them for any work performed in a week. So if they work anytime in a week during which a holiday occurs they must be paid their entire salary.

My friend and fellow blog writer, attorney Jon Hyman, produced a post that is packed full of information on holiday pay, beyond what I have provided here. I suggest you click on through to his post and read his fine post on 8 things you need to know about holiday pay. You will be much better educated as a result.  As Jon pointed out in his post, your state law may require a different treatment of holiday pay, but as for the Fair Labor Standards Act this is what it is. Click this link to see what the USDOL says.

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Mike Haberman

Michael (Mike) D. Haberman, SPHR is a consultant, speaker, writer of HR Observations, and co-founder of Omega HR Solutions, Inc. After over 30 years in HR he got tired of the past and focuses here on the Future of HR. Connect with Mike.

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