People often call our office asking if they can open a wage claim for nonpayment of wages because their employer forced them to work on a federal holiday and did not pay them overtime or double-time rate for hours worked. Unfortunately, the answer is no.
According to California’s Department of Industrial Relations, California law does not require that an employer provide its employees with paid holidays, that it close its business on any holiday or that employees be given the day off for any holiday. There is also nothing in state law that mandates an employer pay an employee a special premium (e.g., time and one-half or double-time) for work performed on holidays, Saturdays, or Sundays, unless that employee has worked over eight (8) hours in a work day or 40 hours in a work week.
If an employer decides to close its business on holidays and give its employees the day off with pay due to longstanding practice, a collective bargaining agreement, or an employment agreement, it is their prerogative, but in no way are they legally obligated to do so under the laws of the state of California.
An interesting note: if an employee works 40 hours in a work week that also has a paid holiday, the additional hours paid for that holiday do not get paid out at an overtime rate even if they are paid out for over 40 hours. Overtime is only paid for hours worked not for pay received. Thus, since only 40 hours were actually spent working, the additional eight (8) holiday hours, for example, will be considered only additional pay and not additional hours worked.