Juneteenth and Paying for Holiday Pay

juneteenth, payment of wage premiums for working on juneteenth, state specific requirements for holiday pay, employee compensation for working on specific holidays

With a new federal holiday on the books, many employers are questioning whether they need to pay wage premiums to employees who worked on Juneteenth.  In many industries, employees do work on holidays and it is customary to pay such employees a premium (such as time and a half) for working on a holiday.

As a general matter, there is no federal law that requires employers to pay employees premiums for working on any federal holiday.  Similarly, there is no obligation to pay non-exempt employees their regular wages if they are off on a holiday.  Therefore, employers are only obligated to pay holiday premiums to employees who work on a holiday, or to pay regular wages to employees who do not work on a holiday, if they wish to do so as a matter of company culture, benefits, and policy. 

In view of the above rules, companies that have policies that state that the company will pay a premium to any employee who works on a federal holiday are, by policy, obligated to paying premiums for employees who have worked on Juneteenth.  Conversely, companies that specifically identified by name those holidays that they will compensate to employees who work on those specific holidays, and who have not named Juneteenth as a paid holiday, are not required to pay wage premiums to employees who worked on Juneteenth.

Any changes in holiday pay policy should be communicated to employees in writing, especially in certain states, to ensure those changes are enforceable.