Premium Pay for Working Holidays Is Popular; Allowing ‘Swapped’ Holidays Is Not

By Dana Wilkie Oct 17, 2016
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Premium Pay for Working Holidays Is Popular; Allowing 'Swapped' Holidays Is Not

​More than half of workplaces will pay employees a premium if they work on a holiday in 2017, although the vast majority won't let workers swap holidays if they prefer to celebrate Yom Kippur, for instance, instead of Christmas, according to a new survey from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

SHRM conducts its Holiday Schedules survey each year. In September, SHRM surveyed 415 HR professionals from a randomly selected sample of SHRM's membership. Sixty-two percent of those polled worked for organizations with 1 to 499 employees. The largest percentage of respondents were in the following industries: manufacturing; professional, scientific and technical services; health care and social assistance; education; or government.

The survey has a margin of error of +/-5 percentage points.

More than half (57 percent) of respondents said their organizations pay a premium for employees working on a holiday when the workplace would normally be closed. Of these organizations, 40 percent pay double time and 21 percent pay time and a half, while 21 percent pay some other type of premium.

Other types of premiums for holiday work include gift cards, free food, or allowing employees to take a comp day or to come in late or leave early on another workday, said Evren Esen, director of workforce analytics at SHRM.

Allowing workers to swap holidays, however, appears to be relatively rare. Under such an arrangement, employees can ask to work on a holiday that is covered by a time-off policy in exchange for taking the day off on a holiday that's not covered. For example, an employee may work on Christmas Day in exchange for taking Yom Kippur or Chinese New Year as a holiday.

The vast majority of organizations don't allow workers to swap holidays—with 82 percent saying this isn't allowed for full-time workers and 88 percent saying it isn't allowed for part-time workers.

The practice "is quite hard to manage, and not all work is suitable for this," Esen said. "If a manufacturing plant is closed on Christmas, it is impossible to swap Christmas with Ramadan."

In addition, only 30 percent of respondents said their organizations offer floating holidays. Under this arrangement, employees get a paid holiday when they wish, such as on their birthday.

More than 8 in 10 workplaces (84 percent) will remain open during the week between Christmas and New Year's Day, while 15 percent will close during this week.

More than 9 in 10 organizations will observe the following holidays in 2017 by closing their offices:

 • New Year's Day (Sunday, January 1).

 • Memorial Day (Monday, May 29).

• Independence Day (Tuesday, July 4).

• Labor Day (Monday, September 4).

• Thanksgiving Day (Thursday, November 23).

• Christmas Day (Monday, December 25).

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