Back in July, I discussed ways to handle holiday pay for employees with alternative work schedules. Just before the Labor Day holiday weekend, a client and reader of the blog asked me an even more fundamental question: do we have to provide employees with time off for holidays, whether with or without pay, or
With paydays that include the recent July 4th holiday coming up, it is a good time to address a fairly common question for employers whose employees work “alternative” workweek schedules: How should employers handle holidays? For instance, on an HR mailing listserv I participate on, an HR manager recently asked:
Q: One of our departments works four days a week, 10 hours a day. When they submit vacation or sick time, the request is for 10 hours. But how should holidays be handled? Should they get paid 10 hour holidays or 8 hours like the rest of the employees?
Before we get to the answer, let’s make sure we have the same things in mind about “alternative” schedules. Typically, employers implement two types of alternative work schedules, which I’ll generally refer to as “compressed” and “flexible.” A compressed schedule involves working longer but fewer days each week, so that employees complete a full 40-hour week (or 80-hour biweekly periods) in fewer than 5 or 10 work days. Forbes Magazine published an article last year just before Labor Day extolling the virtues of the 4-day workweek, but there are several ways you can create a compressed schedule. The key feature is that a compressed schedule is fixed; there’s no flexibility about when employees report to and depart work each day. The two most common compressed schedules in my experience are:
- The “5/4/9” schedule in which employees work 8 9-hour days and 1 8-hour day in the pay period and get an extra day off every other week.
- The “4-10” schedule in which employees work 4 10-hour days each week of the pay period and have an extra day off each week.
Regardless, employees with a compressed schedule work a total of 80 hours during each biweekly pay period.
As the name implies, flexible schedules are, well, flexible! We’re not talking complete flexibility here; employees typically can’t can come and go at any time. Most flexible schedules have two things in common: a set of core hours when all employees are expected to be at work and flexible time bands that allow employees to vary the hours when they arrive and depart. To give you an example, attorneys at the Social Security Administration’s Office of the General Counsel, my former employer, had to work at least 40 hours each week, but we had flexibility on when we arrived and departed. Attorneys had to report no later than 9:00 a.m. and could leave no earlier than 2:30 p.m. (our “core hours”) but could otherwise work 8 hours anytime between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. (our “flexible bands”). Want to take a three hour lunch? No problem. Need to leave early for an appointment or come in later so you could get the kids to school? No worries.
So, with these general definitions in mind, how do we handle holidays for workers with a 4-10 schedule?
Q. Our holiday pay policy says that employees must be at work the day before and the day after a holiday. Our office is closed Thursday and Friday for Thanksgiving. If an exempt employee works Monday and Tuesday but calls in “sick” on Wednesday, can we deny the employee holiday pay?
A. Many employers have…