Did you know that there's no federal mandate for paid vacation in the United States? In fact, according to the Fair Labor Standards Act, federal law doesn't require vacation leave at all. Instead, states or employers themselves have the right to determine holiday, vacation, and sick leave on their own discretion.

It might be hard for most of us to imagine a full-time job without paid time off (PTO) because it's actually a very rare occurrence. Despite the absence of a federal mandate, 90 percent of full-time private industry employees and 74 percent of full-time state and local government workers were granted paid holiday in 2015. Days like New Year's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day, among others, are expected to be paid holidays by most Americans.  

In today's workforce, paid holidays have become a normal part of compensation—in addition to sick leave and vacation—largely to attract and retain talent. According to PwC, Millennials in particular are keen on company perks that allow for greater work-life balance and more workplace flexibility. And the benefit isn't limited to the employee. Paid holidays will give employees a chance to unwind, de-stress and return to work with new focus and greater productivity.

Unfortunately, virtually no company is in a position to offer up every single holiday as a paid day off. So how do you choose? Well, an easy way to determine which holidays will be the most natural fit for your business is to look at which holidays make most sense to your customers. If you're a financial services firm, you may do well to observe bank holidays. If your business is dependent on revenues from holiday shoppers, perhaps avoid closing on the big shopping holidays. Adjusting your own holidays based on predicted business from your clients could help mitigate unnecessary loss of profit and efficiency.

You might also consider the end of the year as a prime time for paid holiday. Thanks to Christmas and New Year's Day, some organizations see a bit of slowdown in business this time of the year. As one of the most widely-celebrated holidays in the U.S., Christmas is a natural paid holiday for a vast majority of companies. However, a few companies like Bay Area giants Oracle, HP and Cisco are going further than just closing on Christmas Eve and Day by conducting shutdowns between Christmas and the New Year. During this traditionally unproductive week, employees are asked to work remotely, if at all—something that will appeal to a workforce ever more attuned to opportunities for flexible work.

Regardless of which holidays you choose, though, know that your employees and your business will benefit. And with so many Americas letting paid vacation time go to waste, it may be that turning off the clock on particular holidays is the best way to get your employees to commit to some rest and relaxation.

23 December 2015

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