Five Things You Should Know About Holidays and Holiday Pay In California


1. California employers are not required to provide employees time off for holidays.

There is no requirement that California employers provide time off (except for religious accommodations, - see below) for holidays. California's DLSE's website states the following: 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. 

2. California employers are not required to pay for time off for holidays, nor are they required to pay additional wages if employees work on holidays.

Likewise, there is no requirement that employers pay employees extra pay or "holiday pay" for work performed on holidays. Employers can voluntarily agree to pay employees extra pay for work that is required during holidays, but these terms would be governed by policy set forth by the employer. Therefore, employers are urged to make sure their holiday pay policies are clearly set forth. California's legislature has proposed bills that would require certain employers to pay employees double time for work done on Thanksgiving, but none of these bills have become law. For example, the "Double Pay on the Holiday Act of 2016" proposed to require an employer to pay at least 2 times the regular rate of pay to employees at retail and grocery store establishments on Thanksgiving. None of these attempts by the legislature have been successful yet in requiring California employers to pay any extra "holiday pay."

3. Employers must provide reasonable accommodations for employees who cannot work on certain holidays due to religious observances.

Employers need to be aware of any religious observances of their employees since employers need to provide reasonable accommodations for employees due to religious reasons. The analysis of reasonable accommodation is required is a case by case analysis based on the company's type of business and the accommodation requested by the employee. If the employer's operations require employees to work during normally recognized holidays, such as a restaurant, then this should be communicated to employees in the handbook or other policies and set the expectation that an essential function of the job requires work during normal holidays.

4. If an employer does pay for time off during holidays, the employer does not have to allow employees to accrue holiday paid time off.

If an employee leaves employment before the holiday arrives, the employer is not required to pay the employee for the day off. However, the employer's policy regarding holiday pay 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. Often the employer will also require that the employee works the days leading up to and following the holiday in order be eligible for the holiday pay.

5. If a pay day falls on certain holidays, and the employer is closed, the employer may process payroll on the next business day.

If an employer is closed on holidays listed in the California Government Code, then the employer may pay wages on the next business days. The DLSE's website explains this, and other considerations, for the timing requirements for payroll. 

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

Is the Annual Company Holiday Party Still a Thing?


In recent years, many companies have downsized their holiday parties to less lavish affairs or hosted other types of events that replaced the traditional after-hours holiday soiree. The decision whether to host a holiday party may come down to cost or employee interest.

 Moving away from the traditional party "seemed to come along with businesses becoming more budget-conscious in the aftermath of the recession, but it is also consistent with the business trend of focusing on company culture," said Catherine Wragg, senior vice president for human resources at TriNet, headquartered in Dublin, California. "Using that holiday budget to have more meaningful team-building activities throughout the year helps employees engage with the company on a more consistent basis and contribute their time and skills in a way that is focused on building community."

Could a Holiday Party Become A Liability?

One reason companies may choose events other than the traditional party to celebrate the holidays could be the desire to avoid potential liability. An employer could be held responsible for any activities that happen during the party, and some companies have decided the risk may not be worth it.

Employment attorneys agree that holiday parties can be risky for employers. "More bad behavior occurs at company holiday parties than at any other time of year," said Mark F. Kluger, attorney and partner at Kluger Healey LLC in Fairfield, N.J. "The combination of the holiday season, pent-up feelings about co-workers and, most importantly, alcohol often lead to uninhibited behavior ranging from sexual harassment to expressions of intolerance." 

Community Service Projects, Team-Building Trips Might Be Preferable

One way to celebrate the holiday season is to have employees participate in a service project together.

One idea is to distribute toys to underprivileged and needy children in the community. Choosing a local organization to collaborate with to have an impact where employees live and work. When employees end their workday at noon and spend the rest of the day together having a light lunch and wrapping presents for others, it becomes a team-building activity while increasing the holiday spirit. Other community service projects, such as collecting items for a local food pantry or running a mitten and hat drive for a homeless shelter, can also be strong team-building activities during the holiday season.

 Another idea would be to do a "mystery trip" as an alternative to the standard holiday party. Doing a mystery trip opens the door to encourage team building and building relationships among people in the different teams of the company; doing this leads to experiences and memories that will last longer than a cocktail party will.

Employers might want to consider not doing an event at all. According to a TriNet survey, 73 percent of employees would prefer a cash bonus during holiday time, while 51 percent favor having extra paid time off between Christmas Day and New Year's Day. Because December can be a busy time for many people, a traditional holiday party could feel like an obligation to employees.

Halloween & The Workplace


Beware, Halloween is right around the corner!

You just picked out your costume, so now what? It’s important to remember that if you plan to wear that costume to work or decorate your office space, you must always consider your audience. To help prevent any scary situations, here are five things to think about:

1. Holiday Decorating Policy. Always check to make sure your company doesn’t have a policy or restrictions on certain decorations. For safety reasons, it is common for companies to prohibit items such as open flame candles, electrical lights and fog machines. Better to be safe than sorry!

2. Simplicity is Key. Wearing elaborate or heavy costumes can present some complications or snags in being able to perform your daily tasks. After 8 hours of trying to maneuver through your work day, it might not be worth the trouble. Instead, dig out those cat ears, witch hats and pumpkin t-shirts and call it a festive and successful workday!

3. Holidays Don’t Cancel Out the Dress Code. Everyone should continue to follow the standard for dress in their workplace even on Halloween. In recent years, it seems that almost any costume can be modified to become “sexy.”, however, just because it is a holiday, it doesn’t mean that the company’s dress code policy doesn’t apply.

4. Stay Clear of Controversy. One person’s idea of a funny costume may not be the same as another’s. Avoid costumes that could be insensitive to someone culture, religion, political stance, or related to a recent hot-button news story.

5. Find Other Ways to Celebrate. Instead of dressing up, place some sweet treats on your desk. Another option is to plan a department lunch and decorate pumpkins that can be displayed in your work space. While many companies encourage healthy eating habits, there’s nothing wrong with indulging a little during the holidays!

If your company is restricting what you can do to celebrate this year, don’t take it personally. The people who make these decisions want to keep everyone’s best interests in mind.