What’s the Holiday Pay Laws in New York

by CiCi
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Holiday pay is a crucial aspect of labor laws designed to ensure fair compensation for employees who work during holidays or are required to take time off. In New York State, as in many other states across the United States, holiday pay is governed by specific regulations that outline which holidays qualify for premium pay, who is entitled to receive it, and under what circumstances.

This article explores the intricacies of holiday pay laws in New York, providing clarity on mandatory holiday pay requirements, exemptions, employer obligations, and the rights of employees under state and federal laws.


Definition of Holiday Pay and its Importance

Holiday pay refers to additional compensation provided to employees who work on designated holidays recognized by their employer. It is designed to compensate employees for working during what are typically considered non-working days, allowing them to enjoy time with family and friends or participate in cultural and religious observances without financial loss.


Types of Holidays Recognized:

In New York State, holidays can be categorized into various types:

  • Federal Holidays: These are holidays recognized at the federal level, such as New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.
  • State Holidays: These holidays are specific to New York State and may include Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Lincoln’s Birthday, and Veterans Day, among others.
  • Religious Holidays: Employers may also recognize religious holidays based on the religious diversity of their workforce, such as Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Eid al-Fitr, and Diwali.

Is Holiday Pay Mandatory in New York?

In New York State, private employers are not required by law to provide holiday pay or to pay employees extra for working on holidays unless it is stipulated in an employment contract, collective bargaining agreement, or company policy. However, many employers choose to offer holiday pay or premium pay as a benefit to attract and retain employees, and to comply with industry standards.

Exceptions and Special Circumstances:

While there is no state law mandating holiday pay for private employers, some exceptions and special circumstances apply:

  • Union Contracts: Employees covered by collective bargaining agreements (union contracts) may have negotiated holiday pay provisions that require employers to provide premium pay for working on holidays.
  • Employer Policies: Many employers have internal policies that provide holiday pay or premium pay as part of their employee benefits package. These policies are typically outlined in the employee handbook or communicated to employees upon hiring.

Public Holidays vs. Private Holidays:

It’s important to distinguish between public holidays and company-designated holidays:

  • Public Holidays: These are holidays recognized at the federal or state level, and employers may choose to observe them by closing for business or providing holiday pay to employees who work on these days.
  • Company-Designated Holidays: These are holidays specific to the employer, such as company anniversaries or additional days off granted by the employer. The provision of holiday pay for these days is at the discretion of the employer unless otherwise specified in an employment agreement or policy.

Legal Framework and Regulations

While New York State does not have specific laws mandating holiday pay for private employers, several federal and state laws govern wage and hour requirements that may impact holiday pay practices:

  • Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA): The FLSA establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and child labor standards affecting full-time and part-time workers in the private sector and in federal, state, and local governments. It does not require payment for time not worked, such as vacations or holidays, unless the employer has a policy or agreement to do so.
  • New York Labor Law: New York State labor laws include provisions for minimum wage, overtime pay, and other wage-related requirements, but they do not specifically mandate holiday pay for private employers.

Employer Obligations and Considerations

Despite the lack of a legal mandate, employers in New York often provide holiday pay or premium pay for working on holidays to remain competitive in the labor market and to foster positive employee relations. Considerations for employers include:

  • Employee Retention: Offering holiday pay can enhance employee morale, satisfaction, and retention by demonstrating appreciation for employees’ efforts and commitment.
  • Competitive Advantage: Many employers use holiday pay as a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining talent, especially in industries where working on holidays is common, such as retail, healthcare, and hospitality.
  • Legal Compliance: Employers must ensure that any holiday pay policies or practices comply with applicable federal, state, and local laws, including wage and hour regulations and any contractual obligations under collective bargaining agreements.

Calculation of Holiday Pay

When employers choose to provide holiday pay, they may calculate it in different ways:

  • Premium Pay: Some employers pay a premium rate (e.g., time and a half or double time) for hours worked on holidays, in addition to regular pay.
  • Additional Day Off: Instead of or in addition to premium pay, employers may offer employees an additional day off with pay to compensate for working on a holiday.
  • Flat Rate: Some employers may provide a flat rate or a specific amount of pay as holiday pay, regardless of the number of hours worked on the holiday.

Employee Rights and Protections

Employees in New York have certain rights and protections related to holiday pay:

  • Disclosure of Policies: Employers should clearly communicate their holiday pay policies to employees, including how holiday pay is calculated, who is eligible, and any conditions or limitations.
  • Equal Treatment: Employers should apply holiday pay policies consistently and avoid discrimination based on protected characteristics such as race, gender, religion, or disability.
  • Recordkeeping: Employers must keep accurate records of hours worked and wages paid, including holiday pay, to ensure compliance with wage and hour laws and to resolve any disputes that may arise.

Collective Bargaining Agreements and Union Contracts

For employees covered by collective bargaining agreements (union contracts), holiday pay provisions are typically negotiated between the employer and the union. These agreements may specify premium pay rates, conditions for eligibility, and procedures for requesting holiday pay.

Practical Tips for Employees

Employees in New York who are unsure about their entitlement to holiday pay or who believe their rights have been violated should take the following steps:

  • Review Policies: Refer to the employee handbook or company policies to understand the employer’s holiday pay practices.
  • Consult HR or Management: If there are questions or concerns about holiday pay, employees should consult with their HR department or management for clarification.
  • Keep Records: Keep accurate records of hours worked, including any hours worked on holidays, and retain pay stubs or other documentation as evidence if disputes arise.

See also: What Holidays Are Called In America


While New York State does not mandate holiday pay for private employers, many employers choose to provide holiday pay or premium pay as a benefit to their employees. Understanding the legal framework, employer obligations, and employee rights related to holiday pay is essential for both employers and employees to ensure fair and compliant practices. By fostering clear communication, maintaining equitable policies, and complying with applicable laws and agreements, employers can enhance employee satisfaction and retention while promoting a positive work environment. Employees, in turn, can advocate for their rights and seek recourse if they believe their entitlement to holiday pay has been violated. Ultimately, adherence to best practices and legal standards contributes to a productive workforce and sustainable business operations in New York State.


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