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Holiday Pay in California
What You Need to Know

Unfortunately, neither state nor federal law requires employers in California to provide holiday pay or paid holidays to their employees. However, many employers choose to offer holiday pay to their workers.
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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt

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Why Don't Employers Have to Pay Holiday Pay?

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not require payment for time not worked in California, such as vacations or holidays. These benefits are usually a matter of agreement between an employer and an employee.

Are There Exceptions?

There are certain exceptions where employers must pay their employees holiday pay, such as:

  • If your employer has a holiday pay policy or practice
  • If holiday pay is promised in your offer letter or employment agreement
  • If your union's collective bargaining agreement requires holiday pay

In these cases, an employer may be contractually bound to give you holiday pay or paid holidays. If you are being denied holiday pay in one of these cases, you may want to consider filing a labor board complaint.

Can I Be Forced to Work on a Federal Holiday?

The law views holidays as just another business day, so whether or not you have to work is entirely up to your employer, if you work for a private company. Holidays like Thanksgiving, Memorial Day, New Year, Labor Day, Independence Day, Juneteenth, MLK Day, and Christmas are considered federal holidays because they apply to employees of the federal government. While many private employers offer federal holidays off as an employee benefit, there is no law requiring them to do so.

Related Article: Can I Be Forced to Work on a Federal Holiday?

What are Some Common Paid Holidays?

Many employers in California 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 in California are:

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

Is My Employer Required to Offer Some Paid Holidays?

The FLSA stipulates that employers are only required to pay for time worked. Even if they give you time off for religious or federal holidays, they aren’t legally required to provide payment for those days. That said, many businesses do have company policies that allow for certain paid vacation days as an employee benefit.

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