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Is time off in lieu of pay acceptable when working on a holiday?

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Question: “Can an employer ‘force’ an employee to take an ‘extra day off sometime’ in lieu of paying the employee eight hours of holiday pay plus eight hours of regular pay if the employee works on the holiday?” —Anonymous


I'm guessing it depends on which state you live in. I would do some searching for labor laws for your state of residence.

In most cases it is but the time off must be in the same payroll week.

Is the employee FLSA exempt or not? If the employee is FLSA exempt (i.e. salaried) then she/he is not paid overtime or holiday pay. She/he may be offered compensatory time - but I don't know if they can be "forced" to actually take the day off. That would depend on the company's documented employed staff policies and possibly the state in which the employee works.

It may be illegal. Check with your State's department of Labor; It is my understanding that forced comp time is not legal.

At our agency, if someone works the holiday and still has his or her full 80 hours (we're on biweekly payrolls), eight extra hours are added to the employee's earned time off bank. We only pay over 80 hours if the employee actually WORKED over 80 hours.

This government website on labor laws will tell you what is legal and what is not legaal. You must be a governement or non-profit in prder to use comptime pay and depending on the field will also determine if they are required to be paid overtime or comptime also even within a government and not for profit agency.

It will also depend if the holiday is paid as additional pay or actual overtime pay. Under the labor laws its 40 actual hours worked and if you had a holiday in that 40 hours then its additional pay without the time and half overtime now if you worked 40 actual hours plus the holiday making it 48 hours worked. Then 8 hours will be over time pay and paid at the time and half rate.

I may be wrong here, but it is my understanding that holidays are at the discretion of the employer. I have worked at some companies with 5 paid holidays a year, some with 7, some with 9. In other words holidays are a "gift" not a state-mandated benefit. My company gives 2 paid weeks off at Christmas time, but that doesn't mean other companies have to do the same thing. I don't know how this can be legislated. I would be interested in what an H.R. person who knows corporate law has to say.

I am currently studying for the PHR exam and according to my book and FLSA, compensatory time off is NOT allowed for non-exempt employees in the private sector. Comp time is usually granted not forced unless it was a rule that was previously made known and enforced.

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