HR Management & Compliance

2015 Holiday Survey Results

BLR® recently concluded a survey that sought to answer the basic question: how do you handle the holidays in the workplace? Today we’ll take a look at the results.


When asked which days would be paid holidays for their employees at Thanksgiving in 2015, 92.1% of survey participants indicated that Thanksgiving Day would be a paid holiday for their employees. Additionally, 65.1% will provide a paid day off on the day after Thanksgiving and .8% will provide a paid half-day off. A full day off before Thanksgiving is a paid holiday as well for 5.5% and 4.4% provide it as a half day off with pay. Employees are allowed to use the day before or after Thanksgiving as a floating paid holiday for 2.3%.


For the 2015 Christmas season, 92.4% of survey respondents provided December 25th as a paid holiday for their employees. Christmas Eve was a paid holiday for employees at 41.5%, and it was a half-day off with pay at 16.1%. Boxing Day, December 26th, was a paid holiday for 1.6%, and it was a half-day for .4%, which is not surprising since it fell on Saturday in 2015.

Christmas week was a paid vacation for 1.1% of survey participants and from Christmas Eve until New Year’s Day was offered as paid time off for 3.7%. Much like Thanksgiving, the day before or after Christmas was used as a floating holiday for 3.3%. No paid time off for the holiday was offered by 1.9% of survey participants in 2015.

Is your employee handbook compliant? Find out on Friday, February 5, 2016, with a new interactive webinar—Employee Handbooks: Key Updates, Drafting Tips, and Enforcement Advice for 2016. Learn More

New Year’s Eve and Day

In 2014, 87.2% of survey participants offered New Year’s Day as a paid holiday and 2015 painted a similar picture with 88.9% offering it to their employees. New Year’s Eve was provided as a paid holiday by 18.7%, and 10.3% provided it as a half-day off with pay. Down slightly from 2014 (3.5%), 3% provided New Year’s week (Monday, December 28 through Friday, January 8 as paid time off for employees. No paid time off surrounding New Year’s was provided to exempt employees by 3%.

2016 Holidays

How many holidays?

When asked if the number of paid holidays being provided in 2016 is the same as in 2015, 96.2% indicated that it is. Here’s the rundown on how many paid holidays employees will receive in 2016:

  • 4.3% of survey participants indicated their employees will receive 1–5 days.
  • 38.1% will receive 6–8 paid holidays.
  • 43.7% will receive 9–11 days.
  • 11.6% will receive 12 or more paid holidays.
  • .4% will not receive paid holidays in 2016.
  • 1.8%, however, will allow employees to use PTO to celebrate their holidays.

In addition to paid companywide holidays, 28.5% provide paid floating holidays to be used at employees’ discretion. Of those, 35% will provide one floating holiday, 24.7% will provide two, 11.9% will provide three, and 9.2% will provide more than three floating holidays.

Which holidays?

Like last year, six holidays—Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day—will be offered as paid holidays by at least 93% of survey participants in 2016.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Presidents’ Day will be paid holidays for 32.6% and 33.9%, respectively. Columbus Day is a paid day off for 14.4%, and Good Friday will qualify as a paid holiday for 27.3%. Veterans Day will be a paid holiday for 21.5%. and employees’ birthdays will be a paid day off for 6.5%.

Unpaid Holidays

No unpaid holidays will be allowed in 2016 for 61.9%. Election Day, though, will be an unpaid holiday for 27.6% and, for 26.4%, employees can have their birthday off without pay. Employees can, however, use vacation or PTO to cover their pay for 79.8%.

Holiday Pay

Nonexempt employees do not work on holidays for 21.1% of survey participants. The nonexempt employees who do work on holidays, however, receive holiday pay plus time and a half for hours worked at 9.8%. Employers surveyed pay holiday pay plus double time at 2.9%. Only regular pay is received at 20.3% and a different day off with pay is the norm at 4.8%. When it comes to holiday pay for employees who have an unexcused absence on the nearest workday before and/or after a company paid holiday, 58.2% of survey participants do not provide holiday pay.

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First Dibs

When it comes to deciding which employees get priority in deciding their days off during the holidays, 16.8% leave it up to the supervisor, and 12.3% go with whoever asks first. It’s not a problem and everyone gets what he or she wants for 3.4% and, for 3.4%, employees take turns from year to year. A formal system based on seniority is in place for 6.7%, and 7.2% use an informal seniority/ranking system. The business is closed for 32.1%.

Unrecognized Holidays

For 39.7% of survey participants, less than 5% of their employees use paid time off for religious days not recognized by the organization as paid holidays. On the flip side, no employees use such time for 18.8%.

Holiday gifts

A cash bonus was planned for employees by 20.1%, gifts are planned by 19.4%, and 13.5% plan to offer both to their employees in 2015. The gifts included:

  • Holiday meal, provided either at work or at a company hosted party offsite, 32.7%;
  • “Take home” holiday meal, such as a ham or turkey, 8.7%;
  • Grocery store gift card, 13.4%;
  • Other gift card (i.e., gas card, prepaid debit, retail store), 15%;
  • Extra paid time off awarded, .8%;
  • Door prize or raffle giveaways, 5.7%; and
  • Personal gifts, 5.5%.

At 18.3%, the “other” basket contained many comments, including the following:

  • On-site holiday catered luncheon provided for all; games for raffling of big prizes (two 56” flat screens, 1 each of newest game consoles, high-tech camera, plus a few others of owner’s choice; most members of management and senior staff received small cash bonus of varying amounts on last check of the year.
  • In lieu of giving gifts to one another, we vote on a needy organization and individuals donate as a “staff gift” to a needy organization.
  • Gift item with company logo.
  • Holiday lunch at work with door prizes, gift cards, free days off.
  • We give holiday meal in-house as well as a turkey to take home at Christmas, and we give a holiday meal in-house and a pumpkin pie to take home at Thanksgiving.
  • Department heads are given a budget of an equal $ amount for each staff member. They may choose to do a team event or give each one a gift card.

Bonus amounts are varied with 11% planning 1–5% of base pay and 4.3% plan 6–10% of base pay. A lump sum of up to $250 was planned for 12.5%, a sum of $251 to $500 was planned for 5.3%, and 3.2% planned cash bonuses of $500 to $1,000. Another 3.9% planned bonuses of $1,000 to $5,000.

Employee gift exchange was allowed at 86.9% of survey participants’ organizations. Only gifts of nominal value were to be accepted by employees from parties outside their organization (e.g., vendors, clients) for 41.9%. No employee gift policy was the norm for 20.8%, and no gifts were to be accepted was the rule for 14.2%. For 22.9%, employees were not to accept personal gifts from parties outside the organization, but they were allowed to accept gifts that could be shared with other employees. Also, 4.6% allowed gifts that were entered into an employee raffle. All gifts must have been reported to the company for 17.1%, though only if valued over a certain dollar amount for 30%.

Tomorrow, more results from the survey plus an introduction to an interactive webinar, Employee Handbooks: Key Updates, Drafting Tips, and Enforcement Advice for 2016.

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