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Thankful for “Overtime (Bonus) Pay” on Holidays and Merry for Paid Holidays


Kalandra Wheeler
Texas Employment Lawyer Kalandra Wheeler

When workers are considering employment, they often take into consideration the benefits and perks of a job. Whether these perks are big or small, they add value to one’s employment. They even influence one’s quality of life outside of work. Some employees may take things for granted, not realizing that a benefit that they enjoy is really a perk freely given by the employer. They may mistakenly think that a perk is protected by some law when it is in fact not. 

During the holiday season a perk that some employees enjoy is overtime (bonus) pay when they work on the holidays. A perk that other employees may enjoy might be paid holidays off. Yes, these are most assuredly perks, as the law does not require that employers provide either of these benefits to their employees.

I remember my first job and working through the holidays, including Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. My manager would always ask if there were volunteers for holidays. There were always volunteers. Double time-and-a-half was good motivation. This was even better than the typical overtime pay! However, workers should know that this was not required. 

Overtime pay on holidays is not required unless those additional hours place a non-exempt employee (employees entitled to overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act) at more than 40 hours in a workweek. But, as a general rule, employees should know that there are no Texas laws or federal laws that require that employees receive overtime or any other special pay merely for working on a holiday. Yes, an employer can require that their employees work on Thanksgiving or Christmas Eve at their regular hourly rate.    

Similar to the lack of any requirement that an employer provide additional pay for working on holidays, there is nothing in Texas or federal laws that requires an employer pay employees for time off given on the holidays. For a non-exempt, hourly employee, this means that an employer can give an employee the holiday off, or even be closed on Thanksgiving, depriving the employee of a workday, and there is nothing in the law that requires the employer to pay the employee for that holiday. 

For exempt, salaried employees, the rules are different, but they too require an understanding of the law. Exempt employees must be paid their full weekly salary if they worked any hours during the holiday week when their employer has made the choice to close for the holiday (e.g., Thanksgiving).  However, there is nothing in the law that even requires an employer to observe any holidays. So, if the employer is open for business and requires that exempt employees work, they are required to work. This also means that an exempt employee, depending on the nature of their work, may be required to work more than 40 hours in a workweek during the holidays with no additional compensation. 

There are very few laws that provide protections and benefits for employees. However, there are employers out there willing to provide additional compensation to those employees sacrificing time with family or loved ones to work on the holidays, and other employers that are able to provide paid holidays off due to the nature of their business operations. Employees should know that these employers do so without legal obligation. Nonetheless, if you are an exempt employee being docked pay when your employer closes for the holidays, or a non-exempt employee working more than 40 hours per week without receiving overtime pay during the holiday season, our employment lawyers are available for consultation. Happy holidays and thank you to all the employers that try to do more for their employees during the holiday season than what is required by law.   


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