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Do I Get Paid Overtime on Federal Holidays?

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on February 10, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Don't you wish you were paid overtime on Valentine's Day? Or given the day off? Wallowing is much easier when not stuck in a sea of cubicles.

Even if Valentine's Day was a federal holiday, you wouldn't be entitled to that well-deserved overtime pay or that impending three-day weekend. In fact, the law doesn't require that you be paid overtime on any federal holiday--not even Christmas. So President's Day certainly doesn't count. And forget about mandatory time off.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) governs pay in the workplace. It primarily deals with minimum wage, child labor, equal pay, recordkeeping, and of course, overtime pay. Under the FLSA, an employee must only be paid overtime when she works over 40 hours in one week--subject to state requirements that any hours over 8 be paid time and a half.

With the exception of certain employees who work on federal contracts, time off on federal holidays is also not mandatory in the private sector. The Federal Government has merely chosen to give its employees the paid time off, and in turn, chosen to give overtime pay to those who must work. Same goes for the states; they just chose to grant their employees these benefits.

Being paid overtime and work-free federal holidays are not unheard of in private business. Employers can also choose to grant their employees these benefits if they find it improves efficiency or morale. Some may also be subject to collective bargaining agreements that guarantee these benefits for union members. If you're not sure whether your contract or workplace policies provide you with time off or overtime pay, ask. It's important to know where you stand.

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