With the holidays in the not-so-distant future, you may be wondering what your holiday leave rights are as an employer. There are a number of relevant laws in this discussion both at the state and federal level. Today, we will take a look at some of the holiday leave laws that may impact you and your rights this holiday season.
Holiday Leave Laws
Holiday leaves are that time off of work granted to employees that would otherwise be scheduled to work due to a special occasion. There are designated holidays for both federal and state governments. It should be understood, however, that just because a day is designated as a holiday by a state or by the federal government it does not mean that all employees are entitled to take the day off, whether it be paid or unpaid.
The right to take holiday leave largely rests with whether an employer is employed by the federal government, state government, or private employer. Pursuant to federal law, federal government employers are required to provide employees with paid or unpaid leave on designated holidays. With each state having passed laws that designate particular days as holidays, the state government is also empowered to dictate whether state government employers are required to grant employees paid or unpaid time off on those designated holidays. Some states even have mandates in place pertaining to private sector employers providing holiday leave for employees. Massachusetts and Rhode Island, for instance, are the only states that require private sector companies to offer paid time off for national holidays.
New Jersey state law has no requirement which makes it mandatory for private employers to grant employees paid or unpaid holiday leave. As such, New Jersey employers can require employees to work holidays. There is also no requirement that if an employer requires an employee to work on a holiday that the employee is paid any kind of special holiday rate such as 1.5 times the regular pay rate. This rate would only apply if the employee qualified for overtime, but that would be pursuant to standardized overtime payment laws.
While private-sector employers can require employees to work holidays with no special pay rate, this requirement must be consistent with established employment policies of the company and with pertinent employment contracts that may be in place. Just as a private employer has the right to require employees to work holidays, an employer also has the right to voluntarily grant employees holiday leave and it can either be paid or unpaid. Should an employer seek to change a practice that allows employees to take paid or unpaid holiday leave, however, the employer may be required by state or federal law to continue this practice until the employer is able to give employees adequate notice of a change in policy.