The holiday season is typically marked by festive cheer and time spent with loved ones. However, for some workers, the holiday season means mandatory overtime work. This can be a source of frustration for employees who are forced to sacrifice the time they could be spending with their families.
Is mandatory holiday overtime work legal? Can a worker refuse to work extra hours over holidays? Here’s what you should know.
Holidays and Overtime 101
Private employers have the right to require their employees to work overtime. However, this right is not absolute. Employers must comply with certain laws and regulations to ensure that their employees are not exploited.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is the primary federal law governing overtime work and pay. Under the FLSA, non-exempt employees are entitled to overtime pay for any hours worked over 40 in a workweek. Overtime pay is calculated at a rate of one and a half times the employee’s regular rate of pay.
However, the FLSA does not mandate that employers provide paid holidays or require employers to pay additional compensation for work performed on holidays. This means that if an employee is required to work on a holiday, they are only entitled to receive their regular pay rate for those hours worked unless their employment contract or company policy states otherwise.
For example, you work for a retail store that does substantial business throughout the holiday season. You are scheduled to work on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. If those two days are part of a regular 7-day weekly work schedule that does not exceed 40 hours, you are not entitled to overtime pay. However, if those days (or any other days) exceed 40 hours in a regular workweek, you are entitled to time-and-a-half overtime pay.
Exemptions to FLSA Holiday and Overtime Rules
There are some exceptions to FLSA holiday and overtime rules. For example, some state laws may require employers to pay a premium rate for work performed on holidays. Additionally, collective bargaining agreements between unions and employers may provide additional compensation for holiday work. For example, your union may have negotiated additional benefits from your employer that reach beyond the minimum federal guidelines. Your employer may have agreed to pay you for holidays while allowing you the days off. This is a bonus benefit not mandated by law.
It’s worth noting that there are also some occupations that are exempt from overtime pay under the FLSA, such as executive, administrative, and professional employees. These exemptions are based on job duties and salary level rather than the hours worked.
Get Help with Overtime Work Pay Violations and More
While employers have the right to require their employees to work overtime, certain regulations and laws are in place to ensure that employees are not exploited. If you are required to work on a holiday, you are generally only entitled to receive your regular pay rate unless your employment contract or company policy states otherwise. However, there may be exceptions to this rule based on state laws or collective bargaining agreements.
Consult your company’s Employee Handbook or your personal employment contract to determine your overtime and holiday pay benefits. Ask your employer if you have questions or if the company’s provisions are unclear. A skilled Employment Law Attorney can also help you research your company’s policies and advise you if further action is warranted.
It’s important for both employers and employees to be aware of their rights and responsibilities when it comes to holiday overtime work. The Crone Law Firm protects workers’ rights in Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kansas, or elsewhere across the Southeast. Contact us today in Memphis, Chicago, or St. Louis to schedule a free consultation.