More than half of companies won’t give paid time off for MLK Jr. Day

I had a dream I could sleep in today, but my job doesn’t consider today worthy of a paid federal holiday.

Despite the awesome increase to two in five Americans enjoying this paid day off, the rest of us are stuck either working today or are off without pay, Bloomberg BNA says.

“While the increase in businesses providing Martin Luther King Jr. Day off with pay certainly is striking, it is worth noting that the majority of U.S. employers still do not give employees a paid day off for the federal holiday,” says Molly Huie, Bloomberg BNA’s survey and research manager.

“Putting things into perspective with other federal holidays, the number of business giving employees a paid holiday on Dr. King’s birthday is on par with President’s Day (37 percent) and far outpaces Columbus Day (16 percent) and Veteran’s Day (24 percent).”

When broken down further, 73 percent of nonbusiness organizations in health care, government, and education will be giving a paid day off today. In manufacturing, only 14 percent of organizations will give employees the day off without pay.

One-third of financial services and insurance providers will get a paid holiday today and more than half of unionized workers will get the day off with pay today, the Bloomberg BNA survey says.

It’s nice, but not required

The Department of Labor says companies are not required to pay you for vacations or holidays, including federal holidays. While you may consider it a necessity, remember that your job is paying you for not working on a federal holiday as a courtesy. (Or, more likely, because so many other businesses do and they don’t want you to get jealous and quit. Peer pressure!)

But as Bloomberg notes, pay for federal holidays — including Martin Luther King, Jr. Day — is growing. Bloomberg has been conducting the survey annually since MLK Jr. Day became a federal holiday in 1986, and says this year is the record high of companies giving employees paid time off for today.

The Office of Personnel Management recognizes 10 federal holidays. But that’s not necessarily what employees are getting. On average, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says full-time employees are getting just over seven paid holidays, sick days, and vacation days — that’s all together.

The amount of time an employee gets off depends on so many factors, like the type of company, the industry, and size. A study done last year by World at Work shows that PTO varies by company, with those that are larger having more traditional leave plans. In this study, the average amount of paid holidays was about eight.

Even with the benefit of paid holidays and paid time off, keep in mind that the luxury goes very under-utilized. Half of workers aren’t even using the paid vacation days offered to them and don’t plan to use them. And when you break it down by age, millennials are the least-likely group to take paid time off.

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Meet the Author

Dori Zinn

Dori Zinn


Zinn is a freelance journalist based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Career and Business

business, holidays, office life, productivity, small business

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Article last modified on December 6, 2017 Published by, LLC . Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: Sorry: Most Employees Are Working Today - AMP.