Employers Dish Up Days Off for Thanksgiving

Paid time off will continue to be the centerpiece of employers’ Thanksgiving plans this year, according to Bloomberg BNA’s 2016 survey of year-end holiday practices.

Nearly all of the 444 responding organizations indicated they will provide a paid day off for all or most of their workforce on Thanksgiving Day, and 80 percent will grant paid time off on both Thursday, Nov. 24, and Friday, Nov. 25.

About one-third of establishments will, however, require at least a few workers to clock in on the holiday, because offering everyone on staff a four-day weekend just doesn’t work for some employers. Case in point: one of this year’s respondents is a zoo, and since the animals still need to be fed and cared for on holidays, zookeepers have to report for work on Thanksgiving.

Among the employers that require Thanksgiving shifts, the typical approach is to schedule only essential personnel. According to the survey, the types of employees most likely to work on the holiday are security and public safety workers, service and maintenance staff, technicians and managerial/supervisory staff.

Of course, the practice isn’t always limited to a skeleton crew, especially in certain service sectors, such as the retail and hospitality industries.

Holiday Shift Gravy?

When employees do get tapped to work on the holiday, there’s usually extra compensation in it for them. In fact, 84 percent of organizations requiring Thanksgiving shifts will provide workers more than straight-time pay for their holiday hours. 

The most common policy is to provide employees time-and-a-half pay, cited by 36 percent of employers requiring people to work on Nov. 24. But some establishments go further, offering extra pay plus compensatory time off or even double-time-and-a-half pay. And you can bet there are employees who would gladly miss the Turkey Day feast (and possibly some family arguments) if they can get that kind of gravy by going to work.

Giving at Thanksgiving

When we talk about employer giving at the holiday, we aren’t just talking gifts. Some employers throw a luncheon or dinner party for their employees to celebrate Thanksgiving. These practices aren’t especially widespread, however, with less than one-fourth (22 percent) of employers planning to distribute gift items or host meals this year.

Manufacturers prove to be the most generous in giving employees gifts or providing meals in honor of Thanksgiving. The survey shows that 37 percent of manufacturers have such plans in 2016. And while only 4 percent of all respondents plan to dispense the holiday bird to their employees, 9 percent of manufacturers said they’ll give turkeys to their workers this year.

Here’s wishing everyone out there a happy Thanksgiving!

Bloomberg BNA has been surveying employers about Thanksgiving practices since 1980, and the annual report on the survey’s findings is one of several that are included with HR Decision Support Network . Start your free trial today!