Are Employers Required to Give Holiday Pay or Paid Holidays? (2023)

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. Nestor on August 26, 2023 at 7:57 pm

    Hi I’m working in carehome my employer are not giving overtime or doble pay for Federal holidays weather you work or not my question is do I have rights or my co workers not to come work on especial holidays even I have scheduled on duty like Christmas or new year cause my employer will not give me OT or doble pay . Do I have rights to tell my boss instead to work on holidays like Christmas and new year I will go to my family or my friends to celebrate that kind of holidays

  2. Nakita on March 1, 2023 at 7:31 am

    I worked graveyard which was 10pm to 6 am and my employer said I was only allowed two, 10 minute breaks. So I was never allowed a lunch. I was fired because I did take more time for breaks. I am also pregnant and have been have some health issues related to my pregnancy and had ask for a day off because my foot was so swollen and has been for the past two weeks that I wasn’t able to where the shoes I normally did. I had slip proof boots and was told I couldn’t wear them so went out spent $85 dollars on some bigger shoes that didn’t really fit to make my employer happy. Then three days later I was fired. I worked my butt of at night and everything that was required of me was done by the time I got off work. Now my employer complain I didn’t do it. I’m a certain order or complete it in u der 5 hours. Three of those hours I would serve customers by myself. I’ve called out 1 day in 6 months and asked for 2 days off the whole time I’ve been there. He also made the comment I should have gone home and slept when he told me too. Now I’m 17 weeks pregnant, jobless, with no income to pay my rent and bills and will be lucky if I am able to find another job while pregnant. Do u think I have a case.

    • Clarissa on June 18, 2023 at 4:31 pm

      I’m pretty sure that’s illegal

  3. Alden on December 28, 2022 at 12:29 am

    Hi. I work in healthcare in a clinic department that is scheduled open M-F. On weekends staff is on-call for emergent cases. When I read meal break policy it usually refers to a “workday” when discussing policy. Is an on-call shift on the weekend considered a “workday” when staff is not there except for a call team? I’m trying to determine if typical meal/rest break policy applies in an on-call situation. Also, when called in for emergent cases, my manager is asking that we take a meal break between cases to avoid a missed meal. There is no one to relieve us in this situation, but we are asked to tell the physician that we need to delay patient care while we take a break so we avoid a missed meal penalty. This weekend we were on our second case when we realized we missed our meal break. We alerted our manager (offsite) and he replied we will not be paid a missed meal as we voluntarily chose not to take a meal break. I’d like to know how the laws apply in situations where staff is not scheduled but on-call and there is never a relief team available.

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