Pay for Work on a Holiday

By Sally Weldin, Sr. Human Resource Specialist
Published May 14, 2019

The summer season is kicking off soon with its annual schedule of nationally recognized holidays. While many employers are closed on Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day, there are organizations that remain open or must remain staffed in certain positions even if the organization officially closes. Those organizations must choose a way to compensate their employees who work those days. 

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Data from HR Source’s 2019/2020 Chicagoland Policies & Benefits Survey suggests that the primary method of compensation for a non-exempt employee working on a holiday is a day’s pay plus regular pay for all hours worked that day, followed by employers designating an alternative day off for those employees, or a day’s pay plus double time for all hours worked that day.  (It’s important to note there is no requirement that employees who work a holiday receive any extra pay or an additional day off.) If a non-exempt employee were to work on the holiday and an additional 40 hours in the week, overtime pay must also be calculated as well. Under federal and state law, non-exempt employees who work in excess of forty hours in a workweek would receive overtime pay for those hours. (For exempt employees, salaries are administered by pay period and would not vary based on hours worked. Their week’s pay would remain the same regardless of the holiday. However, most employers choose to provide those employees an alternative day off.)

Our survey also indicates that many employers have an attendance requirement for non-exempt employees to receive holiday pay. Non-exempt employees must work their scheduled day before and after the holiday to receive pay for a holiday not worked. Employers will also usually pay for the holiday if the employee has scheduled authorized vacation or personal time before or after a holiday. However, a growing trend suggests that many organizations have, or plan to, abandon the attendance requirement.  

Data for employer-recognized holidays and holiday compensation can be found in HR Source’s 2019/2020 Chicagoland Policies & Benefits Survey along with valuable benchmarking data on other employment policies and practices. Survey participants received a complimentary copy last month. Additional information on holiday practices can be found in our upcoming Holiday Survey. Looking for more? Got questions? Contact us at 800-448-4584 or

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