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Employer’s Guide to California Holiday Policy

With Memorial Day and July 4 approaching, California employers should review and, as needed, update their written holiday policies.

California law does not require employers to provide or to pay for holiday time off.
However, for employers opting to offer holidays off, paid or unpaid, written policy should cover the scope of the benefit, including:

  • A list of company-observed holidays;
  • If offering a paid benefit, specify worker eligibility such as completion of any introductory employment period;
  • Address other boundaries for such pay, such as a requirement to work or be on an excused absence on the workdays immediately preceding and following the holiday;
  • Clarify that an employee who must work on a paid holiday also earns his/her pay for labors on that day;
  • State how such pay works when the holiday falls on a weekend.  For example, if Independence Day were to fall on a Saturday on Sunday, specify whether pay is forthcoming for the federal or state weekday off on that three-day weekend or if the company will instead skip such pay altogether for that calendar year.

As holidays must be tied to a calendar event, policy should also correctly regulate any additional “personal” or “floating” holiday.  Best practice can thus include: ● connect the additional paid day off to another specific event, such as the employee’s birthday or hire-date anniversary or to require the employee to take that time off within the same week as the event; and ● ensure the worker then actually takes that designated day off.

The Labor Commissioner FAQs offer additional detailed information including the effect of holidays on overtime calculations.

Take away:  When a business opts to observe holidays, clearly and in writing state the rules and procedures in advance, separate from paid vacation, sick pay and other leave benefits.

For more information, please contact Tim Bowles, Cindy Bamforth or Helena Kobrin.

See also:

Cindy Bamforth
May 28, 2021

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