Monday, January 15, 2018 has been designated as a US Federal holiday to commemorate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. While most national, state, and local government offices close in observance of this holiday, many private employers do not. Those who wish to observe this holiday must use paid time off (if they receive this benefit) or take unpaid leave. On that note, we thought this was a good time to discuss Texas holiday laws.
Are Paid Holidays Required?
There are no federal or state laws requiring Texas employers to observe holidays, and employers are not required to give employees holiday pay. However, if given a day off for a holiday, exempt employees must be paid their full weekly salary, if they worked any hours during the holiday week.
In the case of non-exempt employees, employers are not required to give paid time off. Non-exempt employees who are required to work on holidays often receive extra compensation for the hours worked on the holiday, or they may receive another day off in lieu of the holiday. Such actions are not required, though. Some employers pay one and a half times or even twice the general hourly rate for holiday work hours. This is not required by law and is left to the employer’s discretion.
Whichever holidays will or will not be observed, it is critically important for an organization to establish a clear holiday pay policy and to put that policy in writing. This is so important because Texas Payday Law requires that employers pay their employees all “wages” (including holiday pay and other benefits) that appear in a written policy. The wages calculation includes holiday pay, vacation pay, sick leave pay, parental leave pay, and severance pay.
Unless it will cause undue hardship to the business, companies with 15 or more employees must grant an employee time off for observance of a religious holiday that is in keeping with their sincerely held religious beliefs. If the employer asserts that a hardship exists, the burden of proof lies with the employer. Absent proof of undue hardship, failure to grant the time off could constitute religious discrimination.
What Should Your Holiday Policy Cover?
When establishing your holiday policy, be sure that it complies with your established employment policies as well as with the terms and conditions of any employment contracts.
The holiday policy should list the date for the holidays, specify who gets paid time off on holidays and who doesn’t, and discuss how an employee who works on a paid holiday is compensated.
Because Texas Payday Law looks to and enforces your written holiday policy, it is important to get it right. If you need help with creating a holiday policy, or with any other human resources issue, the Texas employment lawyers at Simon Paschal PLLC can provide advice, consulting, training, or representation.