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Dec 04, 2020

Holidays...To Pay or Not to Pay, What is Required

By: Allison Mann

Tis the season! At least for most people. If you are like me, you probably know at least one person that has to work on Christmas Day or on other holidays throughout the year. Most individuals think that every employee should have holidays off work, or, if they must work, should receive more money for working over the holidays. But is holiday leave and holiday pay required?

North Dakota law recognizes and considers the following as “holidays”: 1) Every Sunday; 2) New Year's Day; 3) Martin Luther King Day; 4) the third Monday in February, in recognition of the birthday of George Washington; 5) Good Friday; 6) Memorial Day; 7) the Fourth of July; 8) Labor Day; 9) Veterans' Day; 10) Thanksgiving Day; 11) Christmas Day; and 12) Every day appointed by the President of the United States or by the governor of this state for a public holiday. If New Year's Day, the Fourth of July, Veterans Day, or Christmas falls on a Sunday, they are observed on the following Monday. Holidays that fall on a Saturday are observed on the preceding Friday.

On the above holidays, state offices are closed and state employees receive those days as paid days off. However, in North Dakota, private employers are not obligated to provide employees with paid or unpaid holiday leave. In other words, a private employer can require an employee to work holidays. A private employer does not have to pay an employee an increased pay, such as 1-½ times the employee’s regular pay rate, for working on holidays, unless such time worked qualifies the employee for overtime under standard overtime laws.

Holiday pay is a voluntary benefit. Many employers do observe several paid holidays. If an employer chooses to provide either paid or unpaid holiday leave, it must comply with the terms of its established policy or employment contract.

The Takeaway:

If you are a private employer, you are not required by law to provide employees with holiday leave and are not required to pay an increased amount for employees working on the holidays. However, be aware of whether the workplace has a policy enacted or if the employment contract grants employees paid or unpaid holiday leave, or an increased pay rate for working on holidays. Additionally, granting paid or unpaid holiday leave or providing an increased pay rate for working on holidays should be applied consistently and equally to all employees to avoid possible discrimination.

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Our law firm’s goal is to give understandable information and to foster discussion about real-life issues facing human resource professionals. If we are not achieving that goal or if you would like us to address other employment law issues, please email us at mcerkoney@ndlaw.com or amann@ndlaw.com. We promise to take your comments and ideas to heart.

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We make a serious effort to be accurate in these writings. These articles are not exhaustive treatises, though, so do not consider them complete or authoritative. Providing this information to you does not create an attorney-client relationship. Do not act upon the contents of this or of any article on our homepage or consider it a replacement for professional advice.

Reprinted with permission from an article submitted for publication in the December, 2020 Southwest Area Human Resource Association newsletter.