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Can Your Boss Make You Work on a Holiday?

By Daniel Taylor, Esq. | Last updated on

If you were stuck at work last month while your friends were all celebrating Memorial Day, you may be asking yourself: Can my boss really make me work on a holiday?

After all, government services like post offices and banks are all closed on federal holidays, so shouldn't you get the day off too?

Well before you make your big plans for the Fourth of July, you should probably keep reading.

Public v. Private Employers

The major holidays are called federal holidays precisely because they apply to the federal government. That means that if you work for a branch of the federal government, feel free to go ahead and book that campsite because you've got the Fourth of July off.

If you work for a private employer, however, you may be out of luck. Generally, private employers are not required to give employees holidays off. Of course, if certain holidays were provided for in your employment contract or as part of a collective bargaining agreement, then you will be entitled to them. Otherwise your employer is free to schedule you to work on the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, or even Christmas, should they so choose.

This same general principle also applies to religious holidays, though employers must find a way to "reasonably accommodate" workers' religious practices in most cases.

What About Holiday Pay?

At least if you have to work on the holidays, you get paid a little extra, right? Don't count on it.

As with getting holidays off, unless it's specified in your contract or collective bargaining agreement, an employer is not obligated to pay you anything extra for working on a holiday.

If you have questions about your rights as an employee or feel that you are being unfairly treated by your employer, an experienced employment law attorney may be able to help.

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