CALL (213) 992-3299

Are Employers Required to Give Holiday Pay or Paid Holidays? (2018)

holiday payWhen it comes to holidays, many employers in California and across the country tend to give employees either the day off with pay (“paid holiday”), or give extra pay for hours worked similar to overtime pay (“holiday pay”). The most common paid holidays are:

  • New Year’s Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Easter
  • Independence Day (4th of July)
  • Labor Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Christmas Day

I hate to dim your holiday cheer, but: neither federal law, nor California law, requires employers to give holiday pay or paid holidays. This is true whether you are an exempt salaried or non-exempt hourly paid employee. So if your employer gives holiday pay, that’s great. If not, there isn’t much you can do, legally, about it.

As usual there are exceptions: e.g., if your employer has a holiday pay policy or practice, if holiday pay is promised for in your offer letter or employment agreement, if your union collective bargaining agreement requires holiday pay, etc. In those cases, the employer may be contractually bound to give you holiday pay or paid holidays. If that’s the case and you are being denied holiday pay, you should consider filing a labor board complaint.

By the way, studies have shown that paid time off boosts employee morale and can lead to higher productivity and reduced employee turnover. According to Forbes Magazine:

If employees would take just one additional day of earned leave each year, the result would mean $73 billion in output for the U.S. economy and positive impacts for both employees and businesses.

So if your employer is being a Scrooge about holiday pay, maybe point them to that Forbes article. Or consider looking for a more enlightened employer to work for. Happy Holidays!



  1. Jennifer rogers on January 17, 2018 at 12:22 pm

    My employee policy is christmas is a paid holiday. I quit on 12/30 . And they are refusing to pay me for christmas. It is a company policy. Managers get paid.

  2. Mc on January 10, 2018 at 2:06 am

    I want to know if a company can stop your shift at midnight and then start a new shift for the following day? I worked 0500 until 0325 the next day but to avoid double time pay they cut the shift off at midnight. Paid me 3 hours 25 mins for next day????

  3. Phil Ruloph on January 6, 2018 at 8:39 pm

    What is the guidelines or laws pertaining to driving a company vehicle. Which I take home every day. Example I leave my house at 6:15 every morning after 45 minutes of travel, I start getting paid. Whether my first job location is an hour and a half from my house. Should I get the consideration if my last job was two hours from my house. Or should I get paid all the way home?? Secondly correct me if I am wrong, but if I have an accident while in the company vehicle I am covered by their insurance, like I was still on the clock. Please clarify for me. Thanks

  4. Gary Baldees on December 28, 2017 at 2:22 pm


    • Eugene Lee on December 31, 2017 at 7:19 am

      No they don’t, unfortunately. As far as California labor laws are concerned, a holiday is just another workday, no different in any way — unless the employer has a vacation pay policy that says otherwise (or there’s a union agreement, etc).

  5. Robert Iglesia on December 25, 2017 at 6:36 pm

    If an employer ask you to work on a Christmas holiday, shouldn’t that suppose to be double pay overtime?

    • Eugene Lee on December 26, 2017 at 9:57 am

      The law does not require it. Although good business practices probably favor giving holiday pay.

  6. Robyn Gorham on December 20, 2017 at 12:02 am

    I got a week’s vacation last year in my company isn’t sure they are going to do vacation pay anymore..can they do that? And if they give it to one employer shouldn’t it be fair to give it to another?

    • Eugene Lee on December 21, 2017 at 1:51 pm

      California labor law does not require employers to give employees paid vacation. However if an employer chooses to give it, then the employer must comply with it’s own vacation policies and cannot be discriminatory or retaliatory when giving it. If you are singled out because of your race, gender, skin color, religion, etc, that would be illegal.

  7. Roberto on December 15, 2017 at 11:14 pm

    My employer gives me a yearly evaluation of 86 cents but only gives me cost of living which is 25cents is this wrong?

    • Eugene Lee on December 26, 2017 at 7:57 pm

      As long as they are paying you over minimum wage (and assuming you aren’t being treated as an exempt employee), they aren’t breaking the law. The problem, of course, is that minimum wage has not been keeping up with inflation. So the true value of minimum wage has actually been decreasing since 1968, when it last peaked. Had minimum wage kept up with inflation, it would be at $21.72 per hour today. See

  8. Gould & Hahn on December 13, 2017 at 2:04 pm

    This should be up to the company. Some people dont even celebrate holidays so again this shouldn’t be regulated by law. That is like regulating religion almost.

    • Eugene Lee on December 26, 2017 at 7:58 pm

      California’s legislature reached the same conclusion.

  9. T on December 5, 2017 at 1:11 pm

    Can a employer pay you two different checks in a pay period to avoid over time hours?

    • Eugene Lee on December 5, 2017 at 3:32 pm

      No, that’s a blatant violation of the wage laws and wage theft. You should consider filing a labor board claim

  10. Jessica on December 3, 2017 at 7:28 pm

    If my employer offers holiday pay to other employees can they deny me holiday pay? Also in the past I have received holiday pay can they stop giving it to me and continue to give it to other employees.

    • Eugene Lee on December 3, 2017 at 8:06 pm

      That is a simple question, but the analysis is actually pretty complicated. For one thing, holiday pay is not required by law, but is discretionary by the employer. You need to confirm what the employer’s holiday pay policy is. It’s not just what’s written in the employee manual, it’s also the employer’s “practice”, meaning what the employer has actually done over the years regarding holiday pay. The holiday pay policy and/or practice is regarded as a “contract” between the employee and the employer. The employer is required to comply with that holiday pay policy and/or practice.

      The second issue is, WHY are you not getting holiday pay? Are you being singled out and why? If you are being singled out because of a protected characteristic (like your gender, religion, physical or mental disability, medical condition, skin color, etc.), then the failure to give you holiday pay could be a form of discrimination and/or harassment. It could also be retaliation if you are being punished for taking a medical leave, blowing the whistle on illegal conduct, complaining of illegal conduct, etc.

      So a simple question, but the answer is actually very complicated as you can see.

  11. Cindy Schroeder on November 21, 2017 at 1:01 pm

    Can an employer change your position and reduce your pay because they hired another person and flat out said they can’t afford to pay both of us? Also moved me from my desk to a counter for the other person to have my desk. Took one responsibility from me but added another. My main manager has been treating me like garbage ever since I started and I have no clue why. He makes me feel so incompetent when I have been working in this industry longer than him. He has only worked for one company…and that is because the owner and him have been friends for 30 years. He treats the new person wonderfully. He is training her whereas I got no training.I’ve been here over a year and I came from a competitor. I left that job of 7 years for this one.I have worked at allot of companies but this one is very odd.
    Thank you

    • Eugene Lee on December 1, 2017 at 5:40 pm

      The employer can do all of those things and more and it’s normally legal. But the question you have to ask is: why is this being done to you? If you are in fact being singled out based on a “protected characteristic”, such as your race, gender, sex orientation, marital status, religion, skin color, national origin, etc. or in retaliation for a “protected act”, then all of the things you mentioned become discrimination, harassment and/or retaliatory. I suspect you need to do a little investigation. If you determine you are being illegally singled out, the next question becomes: do you have the witnesses or documents to prove it.

  12. Olivia Contreras cervantez on November 21, 2017 at 11:23 am

    Im a hskpr for the Rodeway Inn hotel in Colton CA.
    Can my Emplyr threaten me everyday harass me ecrydy bcse they dnt want to pay overtime but sometimes it takes longer to finish cleaning the rooms so we go over the 8hrs a day but not everyday just like one or two days a week so they get mad Cse they have to pay us so they threaten us that there gonna take our days away is that possible or is it legal

  13. Cindy Dapice on November 9, 2017 at 1:19 pm

    Can an employer change your vacation rollover date without notice? The staff rollover date has been October 1, so without any notice , it was changed to January 1 . Is this legal?

    • Eugene Lee on November 9, 2017 at 1:22 pm

      Vacations are not legally required in California. However, employers are free to offer paid vacation if they want to. If they do, they must comply with their own vacation policies and promises. So the answer is: it depends on what is written in your employer’s vacation policy or what your employer’s policy otherwise was. Note, most employers usually include language that they reserve the right to change a policy at any time without notice to employees. You’ll want to look for that language as well.

Leave a Comment