Will Your Employees be Working on Thanksgiving?

Traditionally, Black Friday has been one of the biggest shopping days of the year for retailers with stores offering extended hours and deep discounts. More and more, however, we are seeing retailers open on Thanksgiving to get a jump-start on holiday sales. This holiday season, more stores than ever will be open at least part or all of Thanksgiving and include Best Buy, JCPenney, Kmart, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Old Navy, Sears, Staples, Target, Toys ”R” Us, and Walmart. Most of the stores will open at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving evening, but Old Navy will be open all day and Kmart will open at 6 a.m. Thanksgiving and stay open for 40 hours straight.

Last year, workers protested for higher wages and not having to work on Thanksgiving outside Walmart locations in more than 100 cities. Protests have already started again this year. In Ohio, state Rep. Mike Foley is planning to introduce a bill that would require employers to pay at least triple the normal rate of pay to employees required to work on Thanksgiving.

What are your pay practices for employees who must work on a national holiday? MSEC’s Miscellaneous Benefits and Pay Practices Survey indicates that 70 percent of Retail/Wholesale firms pay time and one-half for hours worked on a holiday, and provide holiday paid time off as well. Federal law does not require employers to provide holiday paid time off or to pay a premium for work on holidays unless overtime requirements are met. Most states do not require private employers to provide holiday paid time off or premium pay for work on holidays; however, state employees may be entitled to pay or time off. Employers should check for applicable laws in all states where they do business.

Even without a legal requirement, employers may choose to provide holiday paid time off benefits and to pay a premium to promote positive employee relations, and to recognize those employees who keep their business operating on a national holiday.