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BusinessColumnistsCarrie Mason-Draffen

Working holidays doesn’t not always translate into premium pay

Working holidays doesn't always result in premium pay.

Working holidays doesn't always result in premium pay. Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto / designer491

DEAR CARRIE: My daughter recently got a job in a department store through a temporary employment agency. She worked Labor Day, yet was told she wasn’t entitled to time-and-a-half for working the holiday. Can that be true? — No Holiday Payoff

DEAR NO HOLIDAY: It is probably true because companies aren’t required to offer employees premium pay when they work holidays or even weekends, unless an employment or union contract calls for the extra pay.

But many companies offer special pay for holidays to entice employees to work them.

And they must offer premium pay when hourly employees work more than 40 hours a week. Those extra hours must be paid at one and one-half times employees’ regular hourly rate.

DEAR CARRIE: My question concerns accumulated sick time. I work at a local university and belong to a union. We are allowed 20 sick days annually. Any unused days could be carried over. In my 15 years of working here, I have accumulated about 90 sick days. I was under the assumption that when you left the university, you were paid for these days — or at least half of them. But I have been informed recently that that is no longer the case. I hate to waste these days, as I am planning to retire within two years. Is there a way to possibly be grandfathered in? — No Carryover

DEAR NO CARRYOVER: What paid time off you can or cannot carry over is most likely a contractual issue since you belong to a union. So you need to consult your contract or a union representative. Paid time off, like premium pay for working holidays, isn’t mandated.

Bear in mind that it’s not uncommon for companies’ handbooks to state that once employees leave for whatever reason, they forfeit all unused paid time off. You need to find out what your union contract or the university’s handbook says about that.

DEAR CARRIE: I work as a security guard. My employer placed me at a nursing home. I would often have to wait to be relieved, sometimes for 15 minutes, sometimes more. I would record all the time I worked on timesheets and even photographed them before I turned them in. When I asked my manager about this, his response was that payroll didn’t like dealing with fractions of an hour. So when the extra time I worked totaled less than a half-hour, it disappeared because the company rounded down to the nearest hour. To even things out, the company said that when we worked more than 30 minutes extra, but less than an hour at the end of the day, the time was rounded up to the hour. That sounded good, but the company didn’t always follow through, and my pay sometimes came up short. What is the labor law regarding this? — Round About

DEAR ROUND: Labor law is clear on this issue. Whatever rounding practice is used, hourly employees must be paid for all the time they work.

Here is an example from the Department of Labor’s Fact Sheet No. 53:

“An intermediate care facility docks employees by a full quarter hour (15 minutes) when they start work more than seven minutes after the start of their scheduled shift. Does this practice comply with the FLSA requirements? Yes, as long as the employees’ time is rounded up a full quarter hour when the employee starts working from 8 to 14 minutes before their shift or if the employee works from 8 to 14 minutes beyond the scheduled end of their shift.”

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