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Working on Memorial Day? You're in Good Company

Chad Brooks and Matt D'Angelo

More than 40% of companies still require at least some employees to work the holiday.

If you have to trudge in to work this Memorial Day, you can take solace in the fact that you won't be alone.

40% of companies require workers to come in Memorial Day

Although 97% of employers have designated Memorial Day as a paid day off, more than 40% of companies still require at least some employees to work the holiday, according to a new study from Bloomberg BNA.

Along with Christmas, New Year's Day, Thanksgiving, Labor Day and July Fourth, Memorial Day is one of the six paid days off for nearly all U.S. workers, said Matt Sottong, Bloomberg BNA's managing editor of surveys and research reports.

"However, as with most federal holidays, where most Americans receive a paid day off, some will be required to punch the clock, particularly technical workers and public safety and security personnel," Sottong said in a statement.

The study revealed that nearly 20% of businesses have at least some members of their technical staff working on Memorial Day, and 15% of businesses said they'll have security and public safety workers doing the same.

In addition, 13% of organizations will have professional employees working, 12% will have managers on the clock, and 11% will make service and maintenance personnel report for duty. Just 10% of businesses will have sales and customer service employees working on Monday.

The good news for people who have to work the holiday is that their paychecks will be a bit larger for doing so. The research discovered that 85% of companies that have employees work on Memorial Day provide them with some type of extra benefit.

Specifically, 28% will give time-and-a-half pay, 20% will provide both extra pay and compensatory time, and 15% will pay double time or double time and a half.

Large companies are the most likely to have workers on the clock Monday. The study shows that 80% of businesses with more than 1,000 employees will have at least some employees work Memorial Day, compared with just 31% of small businesses.

The study was based on surveys of more than 100 human resources professionals.

2017 SHRM study confirms Bloomberg BNA's findings

The Society for Human Resources Management conducted a similar study in 2017 on holiday schedules. This study found that while 90% or more companies close on major holidays, some organizations remain open. Major holidays include New Year's Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and Memorial Day.

The bigger takeaway from this study, however, was how companies are treating employees who have to work on major holidays. Of the 415 HR professionals surveyed, 57% said their company offers some kind of financial incentive to employees who work on holidays. Of those organizations, 40% pay double time and 21% pay time and a half. Nineteen percent pay overtime, and 21% have another payment arrangement.

If some of your employees are working this Memorial Day, but not all, you should strongly consider some kind of payment incentive for these workers who still need to clock in. If your business falls in the 10% of organizations that treat holidays as normal workdays, incentive payment plans may not be necessary, but would likely still be appreciated.

How to treat employees on holidays

If you're a manager or small business owner who has the day off but have employees clocking in for a day's work at your business, there are a few tips to keep in mind.

1. Provide a payment incentive, if possible.

Both studies indicated that the large majority of companies that require employees to work on holidays provide some kind of financial incentive for their time. If your business is financially stable and can handle paying your workers a little extra on a holiday, you should strongly consider doing so. Not only can it work as a thank-you to your staff, it provides a little extra incentive for employees to clock in. While double time may be a stretch, there are other payment options like time and a half, overtime pay or a separate payment arrangement.

2. Say thank you.

Think of a thank-you as a gesture of good faith. Sure, your workers are employed by you and are obligated to show up when scheduled, but a show of thanks goes a long way in boosting morale and communicating appreciation. The most productive workers are those who feel valued at work. No one wants to work on a holiday, but by thanking your employees, you're showing that you value their willingness to go above and beyond expectations.

3. Be reasonable about productivity.

Depending on what industry you're in, it's important to be reasonable with your workers about what exactly they're going to get done on a holiday. If it's a busy time for your business, it's important to set expectations. If it's not a busy time, but you still need a few employees onsite, it's equally important to manage expectations and prioritize important projects over maximum productivity.

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