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Paid Holidays


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The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not require employers to pay employees for time not worked, such as vacations or holidays. Paid holidays, paid vacation, and paid sick leave are determined by the employer, or in a represented workplace, by the employee's representative, often a union, in negotiation with an employer. Paid holidays may also be negotiated by employees who have a contract with employers; these are often senior level employees.

Paid Holidays in the US

Paid holidays are a normal part of a compensation and benefits package offered by employers to attract and retain employees. They are usually listed in an employment offer letter and appear in an employee handbook.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that for the category “all full time employees,” 7.6 is the average number of paid holidays for employees in the United States. Professional, technical and related employees average 8.5 paid holidays while clerical and sales employees average 7.7 paid holidays. Blue collar and service employees have, on average, 7.0 paid holidays.

Federal employees have an annual schedule of paid holidays that is established by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Business Owner's Toolkit offers a handy guide to paid holidays by state.

Common Paid Holidays

The most common paid holidays are:

  • New Year's Day,

  • Memorial Day,

  • Easter

  • Independence Day (4th of July),

  • Labor Day,

  • Thanksgiving Day, and

  • Christmas Day.

Additionally, some organizations add:

  • Washington's Birthday or President's Day,

  • Good Friday,

  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day,

  • Veterans' Day,

  • Columbus Day,

  • Friday after Thanksgiving,

  • Christmas Eve, and/or New Year's Eve.

Other companies offer a floating paid holiday that employees can take as needed; others offer paid holidays for the employee's birthday, and / or for election day.

Related to Paid Holidays

A 2010 study of paid time off by the WorldatWork Association found that nine paid holidays was the norm in the United States. Overall, paid holiday leave provided by employers was most common for secular holidays.

  • New Years Day and/or Thanksgiving Day (99%)

  • Labor Day and/or Memorial Day (98%)

  • Independence Day (97%)

See a typical paid holiday schedule for the private sector and the public sector.

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