Holiday Pay Law Requirements in the State of California (CA)

California observes the official federal holidays which are New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day as well as days celebrating birthdays or notable people including Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Lincoln’s and Washington’s Birthdays, and Cesar Chavez Day.

As in many states, California employers are not required to pay their workers holiday pay when they close for business on official holidays. If an employee works on a holiday, they are paid their usual rate of pay unless it is the employer’s policy to pay extra rates such as time-and-a-half. California law does not require the employer to pay any additional pay if an employee works on the day of a holiday unless it is part of their common practice or if the employee has worked in excess of a 40 hour, 8 hour per day work week. Saturdays and Sunday are also paid at the same rate as hours worked during a weekday. In addition, California law does not require its employers to close for business on any holiday or to give their employees the day off for a particular holiday.

Holiday or weekend pay is given to workers at the discretion of the employers according to company policy, the practices adopted by the employer, or the terms agreed upon between the employer and the employee.

The Division of Labor Standards and Enforcement (DLSE) enforce Labor Code statutes, investigate public work complaints and discrimination, and enforces Labor Code statutes among its many duties. At the same time, The Division of Labor Statistics and Research (DLSR) and is dedicated to collecting, compiling and presenting accurate statistics and research regarding the current condition of labor in the state of California. Combined, these two agencies are dedicated to achieving the highest quality of service possible for the people of California.

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124 Thoughts on “Holiday Pay Law Requirements in the State of California (CA)”

Nicole

July 4, 2014 at 11:23 am

Hi,

I work for a company who per policy, according to our HR person, does not pay OT if an employee works more than 7 days but rather when a person works over 8 hours a day. Recently, I’ve worked 9 days straight within a pay period, 7 of those days were in one week, and I was told that I would be paid my regular rate.

I have also been told that because I am part time status, I do not qualify for holiday pay.

Is this all legal?

Amelia

July 4, 2014 at 5:38 pm

Hi Nicole,

From what you’ve posted, this may be a wage payment violation in CA, depending upon the company’s established payroll week. As you probably know, California has the strictest overtime payment laws in the nation. The state requires that an employee be paid overtime (1.5 times the employee’s usual rate) when he or she works more than 8 hours per day. The state also requires that the employer pay overtime when an employee works more than 6 days in the payroll week.

Double time is required if the employee works more than 12 hours per day, or works 7 days in a payroll week. Every employer must define a payroll week, and it cannot vary from pay period to pay period. (Maybe you aren’t clear on your employer’s payroll week?)

If your employer genuinely doesn’t pay overtime to an employee who works 6 or 7 days in the payroll week, that would be unlawful. However, the key phrase there is “the payroll week.” Many companies have workweeks or payroll weeks that do not start on Sunday or Monday. Every company must have a defined “payroll week” and a payroll week is not the same as a pay period (which can be 2 weeks or more.)

If you worked 9 days straight, but 4 days were in one payroll week and 5 days were in another payroll week, the employer does not owe you any overtime. If you worked 6 or 7 days in one payroll week (not pay period) then the employer owes you overtime.

There is no federal or CA law that requires the employer to pay you when you are off on a holiday. If you actually work on the holiday, like July 4th, then you are entitled to payment for that time worked, as usual. If the employer has a written policy or established practice of paying all part-time employees holiday pay when they are off, then you may be entitled to payment. However, even in California, the overwhelming majority of employers do not provide part-time employees with the benefit of paid holidays. (It’s completely legal for an employer to provide paid holidays for full-time employees and not for part-time employees. Providing paid holidays for some part-time employees, and not others, would be a problem.)

edgar

July 4, 2014 at 5:44 pm

Question, as an employer of a small janitorial business,

when paying an employee 25 hour per week, are they entitle to any holidays?

Amelia

July 4, 2014 at 7:38 pm

Great question, Edgar! California law does not require an employer to offer paid holidays to employees. (Some states do, but California does not.) If you do offer paid holidays, it’s okay to grant them to full-time employees and not part-time workers–as long as you are fair.

Obviously, if an employee works on the holiday, he or she is entitled to payment. That payment must include any overtime earned, just as in any other payroll week. If the employee does not work on the holiday (or the business is closed) CA law does not require that the employee be paid. Paid holidays are a great benefit for an employer to offer, but they are not required by law in CA.

However, California also requires that employers honor the benefits promised in their employee handbook. If your written employee handbook promises workers paid holidays (or you have a well-established unwritten policy in place) then you must provide those benefits. The same is true if your handbook promises employees a higher rate of pay for working on the holidays. Many employers who offer paid holidays to full-time employees do not offer this benefit to part-time employees and as long as you enforce this policy consistently, that’s lawful in CA.

edgar

July 5, 2014 at 12:10 am

Question,

When a 25 hour/ week part time employee doesn’t want to work on four of july, can I fire that employee

Amelia

July 5, 2014 at 9:31 am

As an employer, you have the right to require that employees work on holidays. To be a good employer, you should exercise this right fairly…meaning not require that one employee work all the holidays while another employee take all the holidays off.

If you schedule an employee to work on a holiday, and the employee does not show up, you have the right to discipline the employee. That would include giving the employee a written warning. If the employee doesn’t follow the usual procedures for reporting the absence ahead of time, or has a history of excessive absences, or has been written up multiple times, then you have the right to terminate the employee. (In most states you have the right to terminate the employee anyway, but we’re talking about good employment practices here.)

Two important items to keep in mind: It’s appropriate to discipline employees for their actions, not their thoughts. So a reasonable employer would not fire someone simply because the employee said, “I’d rather not work on July 4th.” Instead, the employer would explain that everyone has to work a few holidays each year, and schedule the employee as usual. A second factor to keep in mind is that it’s a best practice to treat part-time employees as valued team members, just as you do full-time employees. Although there may be differences in benefits, there should not be differences in the level of respect. So it would not be good HR practice to always give full-time employees the day off on holidays and require part-time employees to work.

Finally, we’ll say that it’s understandable that different employees have varying priorities. Some workers may be happy to work on Christmas and New Year’s, but strongly want July 4th off. A good employer will have a system in place so that each employee is scheduled to work a few holidays per year. He will also encourage employees to trade shifts with each other (without creating overtime) so that everyone can have a reasonable quality of life while working a few holidays.

Mary Resella

July 5, 2014 at 11:17 am

I work an 8 hour day from Monday to Thursday every week. Am I considered a full time or a part time employee under the California labor law?

Amelia

July 5, 2014 at 12:21 pm

Like most states, California does not regulate who is considered full-time and who is considered a part-time employee. This is a matter between the employee and the employer. Many employers consider anyone who averages less than 35 hours per week part-time. Others consider someone who works 28 or 30 hours per week full-time.

The state does require that employers honor working conditions promised in the employee handbook, so check your handbook to see if it defines full-time employment and what benefits it offers.

Jose

July 7, 2014 at 1:09 am

Question
As a corporation, need to pay to the employees if they work on 4th of July?

Amelia

July 7, 2014 at 4:57 am

Thanks for posting a great question, Jose. In California as in every state, you are obligated to pay employees for the actual time they work on any day, including July 4.

But we suspect your question is really “Are we required to pay employees for the time they work, plus holiday pay, on July 4th?” The answer is that the state of California requires that employers honor the benefits promised in the employee handbook. If your company does not offer paid holidays, or July 4th is not one of the paid holidays, then the state will not force you to do so.

If you do offer July 4th as a paid holiday, then there are really two options to fulfil your obligation to employees who work on that day. You can pay them for the time they work plus 8 hours of straight time for holiday pay. Or, you can give the employee an additional day off during the same payroll week, with 8 hours of holiday pay.

Feel free to post an additional question, if we didn’t understand your query.

July 7, 2014 at 4:11 pm

I have a question…
I have two employees who are on Workers Compensation Injury leave and have not worked for a few weeks now. Are they entitled to Holiday Pay for 4th of July if we pay all employees for that holiday? What about an employee who is injured at home but it’s not workers comp?

Amelia

July 7, 2014 at 4:46 pm

Thanks for posing a great question, Isabel. The short answer to your question is “maybe.” Check your employee handbook or other written holiday pay policy. Most employers do not pay “all” employees for holiday pay. The overwhelming majority of employers have a policy in place the the employee must not be on workers’ comp or any type of medical/family leave, in order to qualify for holiday pay. The wording may include something like “active” employees are entitled to holiday pay, and then a definition of active employees. (Many employers also require that employees work their normal schedule before and after the holiday, in order to receive holiday pay.)

However, in California, the state requires employers to honor the benefits promised in the employee handbook. So if your handbook or other written policy really states that “all employees” will be given holiday pay, then you must do so.

amy

July 15, 2014 at 6:49 pm

Just realized my employer is “punishing” me by not paying me for the regularly paid holiday of July 4th because of a misunderstanding between my supervisor and I that week. I had put in for vacation a couple days that week and never heard back, which is typical, no news is good news, made plans and few weeks prior they tell me I can’t have off. I tell them I’m still taking off to which he replies he’ll get back to me. Well, he never did….so I did take off and now I’m getting written up and being told I could get fired, etc….anyway, I just noticed they took away the 8 hours of holiday off my time card for July 4th and everyone else will be getting this regularly paid holiday. Is this OK for them to do? Thanks

Serene Zhou

July 16, 2014 at 1:01 pm

Monday to Thursday, I worked 10 hours a day and take Friday off. Do I get overtime pay?

Catherine

July 17, 2014 at 10:01 am

I have worked on Salary (which I was told was based on a 40 hr, work week) in CA. since 2012, as such if I worked over 40 hours, the company has me fill out a rate-2 timesheet along with my salary timesheet, rate-2 is my base pay in addition to salary. I have explained that in CA a salaried employee must meet criteria for exemption of overtime (which I do not) and was ignored. In April another employee raised the same question and was moved to hourly with a $1 an hour raise. This week myself and others have been moved to hourly, and one other was given a $3 raise to be eligible for exemption, because I shared the companies insurance notice regarding exemption pay as of July 1, 2014 with the Director and she decided to finally comply with the law. But will not acknowledge any exemption compliance issues before that time.
I was made to redo my salary and rate 2 timesheet, into an hourly timesheet for the two weeks prior and told from here forward, I was not to work any hours over 40 hours without approval, which is fine, but she has had me sign at least two acknowledgment memos stating that she has complied with CA exemption law as of July 1, 2014.
Am I wrong to think she is missing the interpretation of the CA exemption rule and that I and my fellow employees who were misclassified are owed wages due for past time periods?

Amelia

July 17, 2014 at 11:46 am

Catherine, your question made us chuckle a little. No, it doesn’t sound like your employer is missing anything. This is exactly how many employers would act if they knew very well that they had violated the CA exemption law…by asking you to sign a paper that says they haven’t. Without knowing all the details of your situation, it certainly appears that the employer now knows she was paying you improperly (or perhaps she always knew that.)

You are well within your rights to file a wage claim for unpaid overtime with the California Department of Industrial Relations. You have a limited amount of time to file the claim. By law, the employer cannot retaliate against you for simply filing a claim, even if it turns out that you are not owed any money. (However, this employer has already shown that she doesn’t have a lot of respect for the law.)

Amelia

July 17, 2014 at 12:42 pm

Serene, this relates to California overtime law. The short answer is “not necessarily.” Generally, California requires that an employee be paid overtime when he or she works more than 8 hours per day. However, CA does permit an alternative workweek, where the employee works 10 hours per day, four days per week, every week. In that case you would not be entitled to overtime for working your standard schedule.

Amelia

July 17, 2014 at 6:34 pm

Amy, it sounds like your workplace has really terrible communication…but yes, this is probably legal. Let’s recap what this looks like from the employer’s perspective. You asked for permission to use a few vacation days during the week of July 4th. That request was denied. You took the time off anyway. Yes, in most states, the employer has the right to discipline or even terminate (fire) an employee who does not work her scheduled shifts. Most employers have a policy in place that an employee who does not work her scheduled shifts before and after the holiday, is not entitled to holiday pay.

While we sympathize with your dilemma, it’s probably not wise to assume that silence means “yes, you can take your vacation.” It would probably be wiser to assume that no answer means, “no, you cannot take those vacation days off.” If the vacation days had been approved, the situation would be different, but it’s clear they never were approved. In any state, the employer can dictate when you use your vacation…you don’t necessarily have the right to use it when you’d like.

Still, you are in California, and the state requires employers to honor the benefits promised in the employee handbook. If the handbook promises specific procedures for approving vacation requests, and the employer did not follow them (or the employer makes it impossible for you to take your vacation all year) then you may have recourse.

At the very least, you should respectfully request that your employer establish a procedure for requesting and approving vacation time. At most companies, this is done in writing, using a special vacation request form. But again, silence would normally mean the request was not approved.

Nick

July 19, 2014 at 12:11 am

Hi, I am a salaried restaurant chef and work more than 8 hour/day, 40hrs/week. The restaurant does not mention anything about exempt employee or non-exempt, and no company handbook or policies to follow.
My question is: Do I get OT? and is it legal if the restaurant deducted salary for the closure of 7/4?

Amelia

July 21, 2014 at 11:56 am

Nick, your questions really underscore the fact that too many restaurant owners are not well-informed about wage payment laws.

There are some exceptions, but typically a salaried employee is an exempt employee. Restaurant chefs can be salaried employees if they supervise others, order food or manage the kitchen and meet other qualifications. It would be very, very unusual for a restaurant to put someone on salary if he was not considered an exempt employee. If you are not being paid overtime when you work more than 8 hours per day or more than 40 hours per week, your employer is classifying you as an exempt employee.

The good news is that an exempt employee is entitled to payment of his full salary for the week if he a) works any time during the week at all and b) is ready, willing and able to work. If you worked on another day of that payroll week, and the restaurant was closed for July 4, you are still entitled to payment of your full salary for the week. (CA law will require that the employer honor any benefits promised in the employee handbook. But even if the employer does not offer paid holidays to hourly workers, he must pay the same salary each week to exempt employees, regardless of the number of work days.)

It seems like your employer wants it both ways…he wants to avoid payment of overtime, but also avoid payment of the full salary every week. That’s not consistent with CA and federal wage payment law, unless you are leaving important details out of your question.

gloria

July 22, 2014 at 12:09 pm

Hi,

Just spoke with my employer regarding my missing holiday pay for the 4th of July which the company observes as a paid holiday.

I work 12 hour overnight shifts. In the past we were compensated for holiday pay if we worked any part of the holiday.

On July 3rd my shift started at 7p and ended on July 4th at 7am. Now in the past my holiday hours would be calculated from July 4th at 12:01 am to July 4th at 7am; I would earn 7 hours of holiday pay.

Today my employer explained that in January 2014 they changed how holiday pay is computed.

Holiday pay for the 4th of July started at 7am and ended on July 5 at 7am.
She explained that this is the new policy regarding holiday pay.

Technically, so I believe, the start of holiday pay should be calculated from 12:01 am on July 4th and end at July 5th at 12:01 am.

Am I confused?

Amelia

July 22, 2014 at 2:41 pm

Hi Gloria, we wouldn’t say that you are confused, only that the employer has the right to establish many workplace policies…and that the employer also has the right to change those policies.

The state of California does not require an employer to pay workers a higher rate when they work on a holiday. They do require employers to honor any benefits promised to employees in the employee handbook, or similar written policies. If there is a collective bargaining (union) agreement in place, the employer must abide by that contract.

There is no state or federal standard that defines holiday pay as beginning at midnight on the holiday (July 4, Christmas or whatever.) Each employer has the right to define what “holiday pay” means at their company. Many, many employers with overnight shifts ending at 7 am follow the procedure your company is now using. Under this system, an employee who begins a 12-hour shift at 7 pm on July 3rd is not entitled to any holiday pay at all. An employee who begins a 12-hour shift at 7 pm on July 4th would be entitled to holiday pay for the entire shift. Many companies see this policy as more fair, because (they reason) it is the employee who has to go to work at 7 pm on the special day that is being inconvenienced. Or at least, more inconvenienced than the employee who worked the night before.

To put it another way, your employer pays holiday pay for all hours worked between 7 am on July 4 and 7 am on July 5. It sounds like in 2013 your employer had a policy to pay holiday rates for all hours worked between midnight on July 4 and midnight on July 5. Either policy is reasonable and fair. As long as the employer notified you in writing (perhaps via memo or a new employee handbook) and applies this policy to every employee, it’s both legal and fair.

For other readers, we will emphasize that there is no law that would require an employer to pay a higher rate to employees who work on a holiday. This employer simply chooses to do so.

David

July 28, 2014 at 11:37 am

Question: I work full-time 8 hours a day M-F, but I get unpaid Holidays. If a holiday falls on a friday, what’s the law regarding make-up time for a full day? Can I work 10 hours M-Thur to make up for the holiday? Any information would be helpful, so I can present an argument to my employer. Thanks!

Amelia

July 29, 2014 at 8:11 am

David, there is no California law that requires an employer to make extra work hours available to you during a workweek that includes a holiday, if you are an hourly employee. (Different rules apply for salaried exempt employees.) California law does not require that employers offer paid holidays to employees. Nor does the state require that an employee who normally works 40 hours per week, be allowed to work 40 hours during a holiday week. If the employer closes the business one day that week, the employer can simply schedule the employee for 32 hours and pay him for that time.

This is essentially what “unpaid holiday” means–time off without pay.

Some employers would allow or require employees to make up the missed work time, but there is no law that they must do so, unless this working condition was promised in an employee handbook.

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