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            Holiday Leave

                                                                            Overview

Private employers in California are not required to close on any of the listed holidays. Additionally, private employers are not required to allow employees to take either paid or unpaid time off on the holidays nor are they required to pay employees any premium wage rates (such as 1 1/2 times the regular rate, for working on holidays, unless such time worked qualifies the employee for overtime) to employees who work on the holidays.

Private employers may establish policies or practices granting employees time off on any of the listed holidays or agree to pay premium wage rates to employees who work on those days. Employers who establish such policies or practices may be required to comply with them.

California State employees, however,  are eligible for several types of holiday time off, including:

  • New Year's Day (January 1)

  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day (3rd Monday in January)

  • President's Day (3rd Monday in February)

  • Cesar Chavez Day (March 31)

  • Memorial Day (last Monday in May)

  • Independence Day (July 4)

  • Labor Day (1st Monday in September)

  • Veteran's Day (November 11)

  • Thanksgiving Day (4th Thursday in November)

  • Day after Thanksgiving

  • Christmas (December 25)

When a holiday falls on a Saturday, employees shall receive holiday credit.  When New Year’s Day, Lincoln Day, Cesar Chavez Day, July 4th, Admission Day, Veteran’s Day, or Christmas fall on a Sunday, it is observed on the following Monday. If Veteran’s Day falls on Saturday, it is observed on the prior Friday. 


In addition to the holidays listed, excluded employees (employees who do not have collective bargaining rights under the Dills Act; generally designated as managerial, confidential, and supervisory) receive one personal holiday per fiscal year. Furthermore, some state departments are excluded, such as the California Department of Human Resources, the Public Employment Relations Board, and certain employees of the State Controller's Office, the State Athletic Commission, the Department of Finance, and the Department of Industrial Relations.


To be eligible for a personal holiday, an employee must be: (a) appointed to a class that requires a probationary period; (b) appointed to an exempt position where leave credits are earned; or (c) appointed to a Career Executive Assignment (CEA) position for more than six months.  Once eligible employees complete six months of their initial probationary period, they are credited with a personal holiday for the current fiscal year.  Thereafter, the personal holiday is credited on July 1 of each year. State offices may require employees to provide at least five working days’ advance notice before taking personal holiday leave and may deny requests due to operational needs. 


City offices must be closed on the holidays listed above unless the city has designated otherwise by charter, ordinance, or resolution. Counties may pass ordinance or resolutions that provide an alternative day as a holiday when any of the above listed holidays fall on a Saturday, except for employees working as court attaches. State offices and institutions and the University of California must be closed on Admission Day. State offices, agencies, and institutions, including the Legislature and the University of California, must be closed on Veteran’s Day. If Veteran’s Day falls on a Saturday, it is observed the prior Friday. 

Public schools must be closed on:

  • New Year’s Day

  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day or the Monday or Friday in the week in which January 15 falls

  • The Monday or Friday of the week in which Lincoln Day falls

  • Washington Day

  • Memorial Day

  • July 4th

  • Labor Day

  • Veterans Day

  • Thanksgiving Day

  • Christmas Day

  • Any other day designated by the president or governor

  • Any other day designated by the governing school board


When a holiday falls on a Saturday, schools must be closed the prior Friday. When a holiday falls on a Sunday, schools must be closed the following Sunday. School district may change the day a holiday listed above is observed, except for Veterans Day. Public schools may also be closed on Cesar Chavez Day or the Monday preceding or Friday following that day, and Native American Day (4th Friday in September).

Private employers.

                                                                                 Common FAQ:

Q:  What should business owners in California keep in mind about holidays?

A:  Some of the most important pieces of information an employer should remember are:

  • The state of California celebrates Columbus Day. However, it is not considered a paid holiday for workers.

  • An employer should provide employees holiday credit whenever holidays fall on a Saturday.

  • Holidays that fall on a Sunday get celebrated the next day.

  • Employees are entitled to get one personal holiday yearly.

  • Finally, not everyone gets a day off during César Chávez Day. There are a lot of schools and businesses that still operate on March 31, regardless.

  • When a holiday falls on Sunday, it's observed the following  Monday​.


Q:  If an employee works 8 hours on a holiday which falls on regular workweek day, and they worked 40 hours for the entire workweek, are they entitled to extra pay, of at least double time, for working on the holiday?

A:  There is nothing in state law that mandates an employer pay an employee a special premium for work performed on holidays, Saturdays, or Sundays, other than the overtime premium required for work in excess of 8 hours in a workday or 40 hours in a workweek.


Unless the employer has a policy or practice of paying a premium rate for working on a holiday, or the employee is subject to a collective bargaining or employment agreement that contains such a term, the employer is only required to pay the employee their regular rate of pay for all the straight time hours worked on the holiday, and the overtime premium required for work in excess of 8 hours in a workday or 40 hours in a workweek.

Q:  If an employer is open for business on every holiday, some of which the employees have to work. Is this against the law?
A:  No. There is nothing in state law that mandates that an employer must close its business on any particular day, if at all. It is up to the employer to select which days, if any, it chooses to be open and closed for business, and if the employer is open on a holiday and schedules an employee to work that day, there is nothing in the law that obligates the employer to pay the employee anything but their regular pay and any overtime premium for all overtime hours worked.


Q:  If an employer is closed for business on a Monday to celebrate a holiday, an the employee works Tuesday through Saturday that week, 8 hours each day, and gets paid for 48 hours at their straight time rate, should 8 of those hours be paid at time and one-half, the overtime rate, since the employee was paid for more than 40 hours in the workweek?
A:  No, the employee was paid correctly. In this situation, even though the employee did not work on the holiday the employer chose to pay the employee for it, which it has the absolute right and discretion to do. However, the determination of whether overtime pay is due is based upon hours worked, more than 8 in a workday or more than 40 in a workweek, and not upon pay received. Thus, since the employee did not work more than 8 hours in any one workday, or more than 40 hours in the workweek, the employee is not entitled to any overtime pay for the workweek.


If you have any further questions or need additional information about holiday leave, please contact me for a FREE confidential consultation at (916) 333-4653 or Stephen_Fiegel_Esq@comcast.net.

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