Employment law re holiday and sick time

Does Federal law require that some type of holiday or sick pay be paid to hourly workers? How about vacation or personal time?

Does you state require it? Or any other states that you know of?

How about taking it away once it is part of a verbal agreement?

The answer to this, as with most other legal questions, depends in large part upon what jurisdiction you are posting from.

Assuming it is the United States, and that you are not in a federal job, you are mostly covered by state law when it comes to rules on pay and holidays. If you indicate which state is involved, someone can probably point you to the relevant law pretty quickly, and/or make reference to your state’s employment commission. :slight_smile:

Thanks. I did ask about Federal law … is it possible that Federal law depends on the state? Not a Federal job… maybe that is the distinction.

The state is Michigan.

Federal law only mandates job-protected time off under the Family and Medical Leave act. You can get up to 12 weeks of time off to care for an injured/sick family member or for an injury or illness affecting you. Maternity leave also falls under FMLA. There’s also no requirement that this leave period be paid- you just can’t be fired for taking time off to look after little Johnny or whatever.

The only ways federal law guarantees you vacation time are under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which essentially require employers to provide matching benefits to non-union employees in the same position with the same seniority. In other words, the only way your employer can be required to give you PTO or sick leave is if somebody else doing your job gets it, and not necessarily even then.

Employment law tends to be covered in much greater detail by state legislation than federal legislation; fed employment statutes basically just grant certain broad-based protections, rather than defined benefits.


The only way that Federal law can be applied differently between states (generally) is if a federal district court or court of appeals has ruled on a specific point of law that circuit/ appeals courts in another jurisdiction haven’t (or have ruled differently). This is pretty rare.

However, federal jobs provide all sorts of benefits which are governed by federal law.

In absence of a collective bargaining agreement or specific employee contract, the law for employment basically says “you can do what is NOT prohibited.”

This varys a bit from state to state. For instance, in Illinois there is no laws regarding holiday, sick, or vacation pay. Companies are free to offer it, or not.

Illinois has three requirments. A break of at least 20 minutes, must be given to anyone working 5 or more hours per day. This may be paid or unpaid. (Usually it’s an unpaid lunch) Any more than 40 hours in a “work week” must be at time and a half. Employees cannot, without their consent, work a “calander week” without being off at least one day, regardless of total hours worked.

For instance, a calendar week goes Sun - Sat. So your employer could not schedule you for 5 hours on each day for a total of 35 hours for the week. Because you are working every day in a calendar week. However your employer could schedule you to work Tues - Sat (five days total), then schedule you Sun - Thurs. So you’d wind up working 10 days straight but since you have at least one day in the calendar week off, they can do this.

Employers can offer different benefits to anyone so long as the reason isn’t discrimination of a protected class. For instance, race is a protected class, people who wear green ties is not a protected class and as such, can be discriminated against.

Holiday and Sick pay have been ruled “conditional benefits” and do NOT have to be paid upon seperation. Vacation pay is an “earned” benefit and IS required to be paid up termination. However Illinois courts have rules that if a company accrues for Holiday and Sick pay and as such shows it as a liablity on its books, this would have to be paid upon termination, because the money has been allotted. Most employers don’t realize this, but in Illinois, at least, if you push them, they’ll pay it.

Other things like “Can an employer require you to carry a beeper/cell phone.” In Illinois courts have rules, absent of a law to the contrary (that say they can’t) they CAN require this. But if it’s required it must be PAID for.

Of course these apply to wages, not people on salary. That is why people who get wages usually aren’t required to carry beepers and cells. Salary people don’t get overtime so they can be required with no financial harm to the company.

Holiday pay may be double time, time and a half or whatever the employer decides. They may also require you take a day off in place of working the holiday.

Finally any overtime worked MUST be paid. Regardless of company position on it. They can write you up or discharge you for working unauthorized overtime, but they have to pay it.

Again this applies to wages, not salaried people

Federal law does not metion requiring sick or vacation. I do not know af any state that does. ( I may be wrong)

If you work over 4 hours the employeer is required provide a 10 min break on the clock.

If you work over 6 hours a break and a lunch brreak of at least 30 minutes. The lunch break does not have to be on the clock.

If you work 8 hours, two breaks and a lunch.