In the Trenches: Choosing Company Holidays

As someone who spends every waking minute working on building his business, the idea of taking “company holidays” seemed somewhat foreign. I just worked … all of the time. But when I started to hire employees, I had to decide which, if any, days we would be closed and develop an official company policy. I was surprised to find that there isn’t much official guidance out there on this.

There is no rule regarding which holidays a company needs to honor. The U.S. government generally does not require businesses to grant any paid time off. However, considering that I would rather not have people quit out of frustration, I wanted to have a fair policy. 

I could have adopted all federal government holidays, but that’s a pretty long list (10 working days). I don’t know any small-business owners who honor every federal holiday. Instead, I took what I thought was a pretty standard list based on my previous experience and then tweaked it a little.

Before I started my own business, nothing annoyed me more than having to work (for my previous employer) on the Friday after Thanksgiving. The first thing I did was include that as a holiday. With date-based holidays such as July 4 and Dec. 25 that fall on a different day of the week each year, I figured I would play it by ear. Some years, I might add an extra day off, if it makes sense. As the boss, I have that flexibility, but there’s no reason to codify it and add complexity.

I thought about getting cutesy. A company I used to work for gave people their birthdays off. I decided that was silly. If someone wants his birthday off, he or she can take paid time off.

I also have a long-running joke with a friend of mine where we celebrate United Nations Day every year (which is Oct. 24, by the way). I briefly thought about giving that as a holiday, but then I realized that (a) nobody wants that day off and (b) some people might think it’s some sort of political statement in support of the U.N. I have no interest in making political statements in my business.  Here’s what I settled on.

  • New Year’s Day
  • Presidents Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Thanksgiving Day and the day following
  • Christmas Day

So, for now, I think we have a fairly standard-looking holiday calendar with the only possible outlier being the day after Thanksgiving. I’m happy with it, but it might be something to reconsider each year, so I can make sure that it works for everyone.

About Brett Snyder

Brett is the Founder and President of Cranky Concierge air travel assistance. He also writes the consumer air travel blog, The Cranky Flier.
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5 comments
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RyanCMeinzer
RyanCMeinzer

That is a short list....and not out-lining what happens when a paid holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday is a quick way to legal problems.  If you do not codify it, and "play it by ear", you could be open to some liability.

 

When I was running my own show, our list was:

 

New Years Day

Good Friday

Memorial Day

4th of July

Labor Day

Thanksgiving Day

Day after Thanksgiving

Christmas Eve

Christmas Day

New Years Eve

 

+1 Floating, which most people took as their birthday.

 

If a paid holiday falls on a Saturday, the Friday preceding is taken as the holiday.  If it falls on a Sunday, the following Monday is a holiday.

 

It is in the book, so people know what their holidays are well in advance without having to ask, or have the uncertainty of "playing it by ear" when things fall on weekends.  They deserve the day off, they earned it.  Why take it away because of the arbitrary luck involved when it falls on a weekend?  It just sends the wrong message.

 

Jim
Jim

December 7 every year is International Civil Aviation Day.  You should give them that. 

Roger
Roger

How do you deal with needing to do business on holidays (and weekends)?  I'd imagine the day after Thanksgiving is a fairly popular travel day.  For example one approach is to pay double time for them, another is to give additional bonus days off, and another is not have official days off and instead let employees choose whatever days they want providing needs are covered.

Doug
Doug

This is pretty deep in the weeds, and won't happen again until 2017, but one consideration is what to do when New Year's Day falls on a Sunday.  It's pretty typical to give a Friday if the holiday is a Saturday or a Monday if the holiday is on a Sunday (e.g., Friday, July 3 in a year where it exists, or Monday, July 5, if that's the case.)

 

With New Year's, though, if you match fiscal year to calendar year, you end up giving an extra holiday one year and one fewer the year before.  If revenue or capacity are closely tied to the # of days in the year (or you need one extra day to get revenue that much higher!), it can make a difference.

Brosix
Brosix

I think these are the common days to have off. My old company also celebrated President's day.

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  1. [...] In the Trenches: Choosing Company Holidays – Intuit Small Business Blog One of the less thought-about tasks in building a small business is figuring out which days are considered holidays. [...]