Q&A with Vic Albert
Employers can tell workers
to show up on Thanksgiving
Q: There's been a lot of publicity lately about large retailers like Walmart, Target and Toys-R-Us requiring employees to work on Thanksgiving Day so they can move back the start time of sales, which had traditionally been offered on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Are employees entitled under Oklahoma or federal law to have Thanksgiving Day off work?
A: No. Both Oklahoma and federal law allow an employer to schedule employees to work on holidays like Thanksgiving Day.
Q: So an employer has complete freedom to change past policies and require employees to work on Thanksgiving Day this year?
A: Not necessarily. Employers are required to follow the terms of any policy, memorandum or agreement on holidays that it has provided to its employees. Most employers publish at the outset of a new year in employment policies or memorandums the holidays that they recognize for employees to be off work for that calendar year. Also, some employers have union agreements or other contractual agreements in which they have agreed to holidays off work for employees.
Q: Is an employee entitled to extra compensation for working Thanksgiving Day?
A: No, unless the employer has agreed to do so in a policy or representation to the employees that it will pay more. If working on Thanksgiving Day causes an hourly employee's work hours to go over 40 hours that week, then the employee would be entitled to additional compensation under standard overtime laws.
Q: May an employee use vacation time or paid time off to take off on Thanksgiving Day if he or she is scheduled to work that day?
A: Yes, as long as the employee complies with all of the conditions of the employer's vacation or paid time off policy to schedule such in advance. Employees should check the policy on these requirements as most employers maintain some right to deny a vacation or paid time off request.
PAULA BURKES, BUSINESS WRITER