Benefits and Compensation

Ask The Expert: Holiday Time To Pay or Not To Pay?

Question: Would it be noncompliant to require employees to work both the day before and the day after a holiday in order to receive holiday pay? Also, would it break any pay laws not to provide holiday pay to an employee who calls out sick before a holiday?

Answer: Federal law doesn’t require pay for time not worked, including holidays, so paid holidays aren’t required. If employers choose to pay employees for holidays they don’t work on, they can lawfully implement a policy setting forth certain terms, including that they work on the workdays immediately preceding or following a holiday.

Employers must apply the policy consistently to all employees regardless of the reason for the callout, or else they could violate protected leave laws, like the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Massachusetts paid family and medical leave, and Massachusetts earned sick time, or disability accommodation obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

With respect to wage and hour laws, you must always be mindful of state and local laws, which may differ from federal law, so check any such laws that might apply to you and your employees.

Meaghan Murphy is an associate at the firm Skoler, Abbott & Presser, P.C., in Springfield, Massachusetts, and can be reached at

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