Advice for Working Holidays | How to Handle Working on a Holiday
By Natasha Hoover
Working on Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, and other National Holidays
This year, you drew the short straw and you're stuck working a Major Holiday. Maybe it's Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Eve, or some other holiday you'd rather spend anywhere but work. Whichever holiday you're working, you may feel angry, bitter, or jealous that you'll be showing up at the usual time while 'everyone else' has off.
If it's any consolation, you're in plentiful company. Each year, millions of people from gas station clerks to doctors have to work major holidays. I have personally worked every holiday at least once. Whether this is your first time working a holiday, or the 20th year in a row you've volunteered for the job, this advice can help you make the most of your holiday at work.
Have you ever worked a major holiday?
Do I get Overtime on Federal/Bank Holidays?
I know lots of people who love volunteering to work holidays so they can either receive holiday pay or 'bank' the holiday as an extra vacation day. This holiday pay is usually the same as overtime pay, or 'time and a half.' This means if you normally make $10 an hour, holiday pay would be $15 an hour, or half of your normal rate on top of your regular hourly wage. For some, the chance to make a little extra money and avoid the chaos of home is the perfect reason to work holidays.
Sadly, you cannot assume your job will give you extra money for working a holiday, even a national holiday. The Fair Labor Standards Act governs wages, overtime, and other work practices in the United States, but it does not mandate additional pay on any holiday. Even most state and Federal employees don't have to receive additional pay for working holidays. If you want to work a holiday for some extra cash, make sure to check with your employer ahead of time to find out what, if any, additional compensation will be offered.
Does Work Offer a Holiday Meal?
Many employers offer a free holiday meal to folks who have to work Thanksgiving and/or Christmas. Fourth of July picnics, or even Easter brunches might be offered by your place of work, too. If you're scheduled to work a holiday, ask your boss:
- If there will be a holiday meal will be provided.
- If there will be a during the work-day meal, find out whether it's potluck or provided by the business
- If you can bring family members. Some employers allow you to bring guests to a work-sponsored meal. If this is the case, take advantage of the opportunity! You can transform a holiday at work into a chance to avoid cooking and dishes!
At my current workplace, Thanksgiving dinner is talked about all year. The manager's wife is a wonderful lady and a fantastic cook who really takes care of us!
This book isn't specifically about working on a holiday, but it does have all sorts of fantastic advice for dealing with potentially the awkward family and coworker situations that tend to happen at holiday gatherings
Make your own Holiday
One of my favorite ways to deal with working on a holiday is by celebrating on my own day. When I was in elementary school, my mother had to work Christmas. I created a sign and taped it in the window asking Santa to please come a day early so we could celebrate together. We had Christmas on Christmas Eve morning that year, and it was fantastic. I remember sitting in church on Christmas Eve feeling so special because I was wearing a brand new, Christmas present sweater while the rest of the kids were still eagerly waiting to unwrap their presents.
If you, or loved ones, work on the actual holiday, just find another time that week when you can be together and share a meal. The holiday police won't come arrest you - I'm sure of it.
Working on holidays can be difficult. You might prefer to be at home and, if you have a customer service job, you may end up talking to a lot of very stressed out people. However, you may also end up really making someone's day by being the only place to get gas or the last spot that still has whipping cream. If you work in government or healthcare, try to remember that other folks are able to have a good time because of the safety and services you provide.
In my experience, a lot of people are actually very thankful for your presence at work, and many of them are quite sympathetic. If all else fails, you can at least enjoy hearing grandmotherly ladies doting over you for a minute.