• If the Senate Gets its Way, Holidays in California will Really be Something to Celebrate
  • May 13, 2015 | Authors: Katherine A. Hren; Richard S. Rosenberg
  • Law Firm: Ballard Rosenberg Golper & Savitt LLP - Glendale Office
  • A California state Assembly Committee recently approved "The Double Pay on the Holiday Act of 2015" (Assembly Bill 67). If passed, the new law would require employers to pay employees at least "twice the employee's regular rate of pay" on a "family holiday." A "family holiday" is defined as "December 25 of each year" (Christmas) and "the fourth Thursday of November of each year" (Thanksgiving). The proposed law would be the first in the nation to require double pay for work performed on holidays. The bill applies to all employers, regardless of the number of individuals employed. As such, there is no exemption for small employers. However, the bill does contain an exemption for employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement that meets certain requirements.

    Supporters of the bill argue that this bill ensures that employees are fairly compensated for the hardships associated with working on Thanksgiving and Christmas. They contend that the increasing commercialization of these holidays has forced workers to miss out on celebrating these holidays and spending time with their families in order to keep their jobs. Opponents argue that this bill will result in unavoidable cost increases for certain businesses. For example, while some employers may close their place of business on a family holiday, others businesses, such as hospitals, medical facilities, and lodging accommodations, do not realistically have that option. Therefore, this bill would increase these employers' costs of doing business by forcing them to provide all employees with double pay. This bill would also create a competitive disadvantage for smaller businesses.

    Opponents also argue that this bill violates constitutional rights to religious freedom by mandating employers to recognize Christmas and Thanksgiving as special family holidays. However, supporters respond that the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld similar laws based on the rationale they are intended "to provide a uniform day of rest for all citizens" on a secular basis and promote the secular values of "health, safety, recreation, and general well-being."

    The bill is in the early stages of the legislative process and could go through several amendments before passing (if it passes). We will keep you apprised of the bill's status and outcome.