My guess is that you do not have a legal obligation. However, Penny Morey, our Human Resources Consultant, and/or Nina Kaufman, our Business Attorney, can give you the facts about your legal obligation. With that said, I still want to answer your question because I think that there are factors beyond your legal obligation that should be considered before you decide whether or not to pay for the days off.
Conflict is my area of expertise and I know that underneath almost every human conflict someone feels dismissed, discounted, disenfranchised or disrespected. What you do and what you say will be quickly forgotten. What others will remember is how your actions and your words made them feel. If there is a way for you to avoid paying your employees without instilling dismissed, discounted, disenfranchised or disrespected feelings, that would be great. I just don't know if that is possible.
In a perfect world, each employee would simply be grateful for having both a job and a day off. But, the world is not perfect. Your employees are likely living pay-check-to-pay-check, budgeting themselves for 40-hour paychecks. And, the holiday season is probably their most challenging and expensive time of year.
Before you decide what to do, please ask yourself the following questions: How much will a potential conflict cost you? How much does it cost to buy employee loyalty? How much will a disgruntled employee cost you in customer service? Are you prepared for the repercussions of failing to pay for the holiday? How much time will staff members spend sitting around grumbling about the missed pay?
If you decide to pay the employees, please make sure to take advantage of this "PR" opportunity. Let the employees know that you value each of them and that even though the extra pay is a sacrifice for this young business you are committed to them and so you are going to go the extra mile to make their holidays better.
So, what will you do? Please let me know
Question added to topic Human Resources • December 4, 2008
I pay my employees for the holiday, but do I have to pay them for the day after the holiday if we are closed?
Currently all of my employees are hourly, and they get paid straight time for any holiday. This year, Christmas and New Year are on Thursdays, and our office is choosing to be closed on Friday. Do I have to pay them for Friday? My business is in the medical industry. I have only been open a year in the medical field and I feel that I treat my staff very well. But when Thanksgiving came up and I paid for the holiday day only, the office staff were upset that they didn't get paid for Friday.
Elinor Robin, "The Relationship Mediator," has more than 18 years of experience in mediation while working within the public and private sectors.