Do You Really Have to Offer Paid Time Off For Every Holiday?

May 9, 2018 | 1,757 views

Do You Really Have to Offer Paid Time Off For Every Holiday?

Do You Really Have to Offer Paid Time Off For Every Holiday?

A few months ago, we shared with you the jarring statistic that 662 million vacation days go unused every year, according to Project Time Off. That’s fairly startling, when you think about it. People have paid vacation time that they can use just about whenever they want and yet, they’re not.


As an employer, you might be asking yourself a few questions.


1. Should you do more to encourage your team to take time away from the office?


2. Should you really have to shutter your doors on every holiday in order to give your employees time off, when they’re not even using all of their vacation days?


The first question gets a resounding yes from us. The second question is a little bit trickier, so we thought we’d explore the concept a little further.


The Average Number of Paid Holidays

An average, full-time employee in the United States working for a privately owned business gets 7.6 paid holidays per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Technical and professional employees get closer to 9 paid holidays each year, while blue collar or service employees actually get closer to 7 paid holidays each year.


Federal Requirements

The Federal government doesn’t have any specific regulations for how much paid time off an employer gives to an employee. That means that most employers offer this time off as a way to attract top talent and retain better people. But, because there aren’t any requirements, the question remains: How many holidays do you need to offer paid-time off for each year?


The Most Common Paid Holidays

Perhaps it’s easier to look at the most common paid holidays before trying to sift out the other not-so-common holidays. The following holidays are listed in order of most commonly offered to least commonly offered paid time off.


  1. Christmas Day
  2. Thanksgiving Day
  3. New Year’s Day
  4. Labor Day
  5. Memorial Day
  6. Friday after Thanksgiving
  7. Fourth of July


For businesses that are open 7 days a week, Easter is another common paid holiday.


Uncommon Paid Holidays

If you look at the federal holidays, you’ll notice that there are many other paid holidays given for federal employees. These are the days when postal service stops and banks are closed, but in the private sector, they’re not a given. Not by a long shot.


Here are the holidays offered and the percentage of businesses that close their doors that day, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).  


– MLK Jr.’s Birthday – 37%

– President’s Day – 35%

– Day Before Independence Day – 60%

– Columbus Day – 16%

– Veterans Day – 20%

– Christmas Eve – 47%


What’s Right for Your Business?

While offering paid holidays is a competitive advantage, it’s not always the right decision to close your doors on these days. So, what’s right for you? It depends on your business model.


If you’re a seasonal business, such as a retailer, closing your doors on Christmas Eve might be disastrous to your bottom line. Keep your annual sales patterns in mind when deciding which, if any, of these holidays you want to offer as paid time off.


Another thing you can do is offer two floating holidays from the second list of holidays for each employee. You position these as somewhat of a grab bag (with maximum numbers of people who can take those days off) and let the employees choose which ones matter the most to them. That way, you can remain open but still offer another incentive of paid time off on these specific days.


Scheduling is Key

No matter how you choose to structure it, scheduling these holidays in advance is critical. Put them into your online scheduling app, so you can easily track who is taking which days off and how well you’ll be staffed during each of these federal holidays.



Author Profile Jon Forknell is the Vice President and General Manager of Atlas Business Solutions, Inc., a software marketing company specializing in employee scheduling software, including ScheduleBase employee scheduling software, and other business software solutions. In the past, Jon has been recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration as a SBA Young Entrepreneur of the Year. Atlas Business Solutions was named as one of Software Magazine’s Top 500 Software Companies in 2004 through 2007 and again in 2010, 2013 and 2014.

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