What are Paid Holidays?

Paid holidays are federal, state, or cultural holidays that employers choose to give as paid time off to employees. 

Are there any Paid Holidays by Law? 

No law mandates any kind of paid holiday in the United States. The Fair Labour Standards Act (FLSA) only covers minimum wage and overtime for non-exempt employees

Do Paid Holidays Impact Exempt and Non-Exempt Employees Differently? 

Non-exempt employees are paid for the time they’re at work and aren’t normally offered paid offs. But employers can offer them time and a half or double time on holidays to incentivize them to work holiday shifts. 

Paid offs are generally offered to exempt employees. 

What are the Paid Holidays in the United States? 

For the most part, paid holidays in the US are limited to the 11 federal holidays

  • January 1 – New Year’s Day
  • Third Monday in January – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • Third Monday in February – President’s Day
  • Last Monday in May – Memorial Day
  • July 4 – Independence Day
  • June 19 – 
  • First Monday in September – Labor Day
  • Second Monday in October – Indigenous Peoples’ Day
  • November 11 – Veterans Day
  • Fourth Thursday in November – Thanksgiving Day
  • December 25 – Christmas Day

In addition to these, employers can choose to give state and culture-specific holidays to their employees. 

Other Paid Holidays in the United States

In addition to federal holidays, employers may choose to also add the following to their vacation calendars: 

  • First Sunday after the full moon of the Spring Equinox – Easter
  • Friday before Easter – Good Friday
  • Fourth Friday in November – Friday after Thanksgiving
  • December 24 – Christmas Eve
  • December 31 – New Year’s Eve

What are the Typical Paid Vacations? 

According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics Survey from 2018, Americans get an average of 8 paid offs per year. Where 77% of civilian workers received at least some paid vacations that year. 

According to that survey, there are the most common across the country: 

  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Christmas Day

How to Accommodate Multi-Cultural Holidays in the Paid Vacation Calendar? 

In a world where diversity and integration are key factors for employee engagement, HR needs to ensure that holidays aren’t just aligned with the majority. 

It’s just as important for employees to have paid holidays on culturally significant holidays for them. These go beyond just Christmas and can include days like Hannukah, Diwali, Eid, Día de Los Muertos, and many more. 

In this case, it makes sense to offer floating holidays where employees can choose to take 1-2 paid holidays on days that are culturally significant to them. 

keep track of holidays

Related Terms
FLSA Status
Paid Time Off
What is Holiday Pay?