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Top 5 Holiday Questions Small Business Owners Ask

By George Khoury, Esq. | Last updated on

There always seems to be a holiday right around the corner. And for employers, holidays can mean big business, or sometimes no business at all.

But one common issue many small business struggle with is vacation and pay issues surrounding holidays, and particularly religious holidays. Below, you can read about five of the most frequently asked questions, and answers.

Legal to Force Employees to Work Holidays?

Generally, yes, it is legal to make employees work holidays. However, employers need to be careful that their policies do not discriminate based on religion. So when employees make requests for time off to celebrate a religious holiday, employers should evaluate whether the request can be accommodated.

Which Religious Holidays Must Be Recognized?

While it may be difficult to believe, private employers are not legally required to recognize any holidays, religious or otherwise  (unless the employer has a stated policy, or contractual obligation to do so).

Is Extra 'Holiday Pay' Legally Required?

Similarly to the above question, private employers are not required to pay overtime-pay or holiday-pay or time-and-a-half for hours worked on a holiday (again, unless the employer has a stated policy, or contractual obligation to do so).

Is It Time to Update Your Employee Time-Off Policy?

Many small businesses grow significantly before policies get updated. And if you’re looking at a stack of vacation requests for the same holiday, you might want to consider updating your policies to reflect your growing business.

Should Your Biz Forgo Holiday Parties, Bonuses?

Even though you, as the business owner, may celebrate a particular holiday, that doesn’t mean all your employees will. As such, you might want to consider forgoing a holiday party, or even “holiday” bonuses. Although if you’ve promised either, you should probably make good one last time before changing your policies and practices. While employees might rely on holiday bonuses, making sure to tie these to measurable performance metrics is a good way to incentivize employees.

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