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With the beginning of fall come cozy sweaters, seasonal beverages, cooler temperatures, and questions about holiday pay. That’s right: the biggest holiday months are still ahead of us, which means lots of employee time off and potential confusion. Who gets paid for what time off? Should employees be able to make up missed time? What should you do about unplanned absences? I’ll take you through the basics of holiday pay and try to help you navigate your way through some of the more common scenarios you may face with your employees.
The most common U.S. paid holidays are New Year's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. All of these are paid holidays under the Federal Government; however, businesses in the private sector are not obligated to close, too. Furthermore, businesses in the private sector who do decide to close shop on these days don’t necessarily have to do so with pay, nor do they have to pay time-and-a-half if employees work these days, federally speaking. (Your state laws may vary on both counts.) Your full-time exempt employees, even those taking advantage of any flexwork opportunities, should still be given their normal weekly salaries. Part-time exempt employees may get pro-rated salaries if the holiday falls on a normal working day. Non-exempt workers, or hourly workers, who don’t work on these days should not be paid for these missing hours.
Since there aren’t any federal laws about holidays and pay, and different employees get different pay on these days, there’s usually some confusion as to who gets paid what. It’s a good idea to send out an e-mail in advance to all employees to remind them how your business handles the holidays (who takes off which days, if different departments have different holidays) and whether or not work on these days is paid as overtime. Include a sentence that any employees should come to you if they have any questions – and they will have questions. Here are a few scenarios you may encounter and some advice on how to handle them:
Irelis Arias is a Human Resources Director who specializes in employee relations, leadership and employee development, recruitment, training, compensation, and benefits. In her role, Irelis draws from 20 years of HR compliance and employment law experience, including 12 years working for a top national labor and employment law firm. Irelis has been instrumental in helping to identify areas in need of improvement and implement successful action plans. When she’s not helping others seek career success, Irelis devotes her time and attention to her three active sons. She enjoys spending time with her family and working out to stay healthy.