What are the rules governing holiday pay?

By | 2022-02-08T14:38:50-05:00 September 30th, 2008|0 Comments


Dear Nancy,

I work in a small community hospital. We are required to work two federal holidays per year. If we work a federal holiday, we get paid time and a half. If we don’t work the holiday, and it is normally a scheduled day to work, we have to take vacation time, PTO, STO (or whatever the hospital might call it) to get paid. I have never had a nursing job where I had to use my own time to get paid for a holiday not worked. In fact, if we worked the holiday, we not only got paid time and a half, but we also got another day off with pay for working the holiday. What are the rules governing this?


Nancy Brent replies:

Dear Nina,

There is no universal United States law on pay for holidays, whether federal or state, for most employees and certainly for private employees. The Fair Labor Standards Act, a federal law, does not regulate or require holiday pay (or vacation pay, sick pay, or severance pay). As a result, one must look to state law, if it exists, concerning holiday pay. If no state law regulates holiday pay, it is the employer who determines what rate of pay holiday pay will be and determines any other benefits that accrue from either working on a holiday or the employees getting holiday pay (also sometimes known as “premium” pay) even if they do not work on the specific day.

You might want to consult with your state Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division, to identify what the state law is on this subject. A nurse attorney or attorney who works with employees can also advise you about this.

You can gain some background information in preparation for such a consultation by placing “holiday pay” in the search bar of your search engine. There is a great deal of information available for your review, including what other countries do about holiday pay.


Nancy J. Brent, RN, MS, JD, is an attorney in private practice in Wilmette, Ill. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as legal or any other advice. The reader is encouraged to seek the advice of an attorney or other professional when an opinion is needed.


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