No Holiday for All - Bloomberg BNA Annual Survey Finds Over One-Third of Employers Require Some to Work on Thanksgiving

82% of Employers Requiring Thanksgiving Work to Provide Extra Compensation

Arlington, Va. (November 19, 2015) — It won’t be a lazy morning for all American workers next Thursday, according to findings from Bloomberg BNA’s 2015 Thanksgiving Holiday Practices Survey, which has been conducted annually since 1980.  While more than seven out of 10 surveyed employers have scheduled paid days off for both Thanksgiving Day and the following Friday, 36 percent of all responding organizations will require at least some employees to work on the national holiday, up slightly from 33 percent in 2014.   For a complimentary copy of the report and to learn more about how employers manage the Thanksgiving holiday, visit here.  

“While 96 percent of employers will designate Thanksgiving a paid day off, a number of organizations will require at least some of their employees to work on the holiday,” said Robert Combs, Bloomberg BNA’s Manager of Custom Research.  “The good news for workers who are required to spend the holiday away from friends and family is that most will be compensated in the form of extra pay, additional time off or both.  In fact, 82 percent of employers requiring Thanksgiving duty will provide workers extra pay and/or leave this year.  And, as an added bonus, most of those workers won’t have supervisors looking over their shoulder as less than 10 percent of organizations have management staff scheduled for work shifts on Thanksgiving.”    

Among the survey’s key findings:

Employees responsible for public safety, security or maintenance are most likely to be at work on Thanksgiving Day.  Security and public safety workers (14 percent), service and maintenance staff (13 percent), and technicians (13 percent) are most likely to draw holiday shifts.

Most employees who draw Thanksgiving shifts this year will get something extra in their paychecks, leave balances, or both.  Among 133 surveyed employers requiring Thanksgiving duty this year, more than four out of five (82 percent) of the surveyed firms will provide employees extra compensation or time off, including time-and-a-half pay (32 percent), double-time pay (24 percent), compensatory time off in addition to regular pay (8 percent), or a combination of overtime and compensatory time off (6 percent) for working the holiday.  

Workers with small organizations are most likely to be thankful on account of a four-day holiday weekend.  Nearly eight in ten organizations with fewer than 1,000 workers (79 percent) have slated paid holidays for both Thanksgiving Day and the following Friday this year, while about three-fifths of larger employers (58 percent) will be so generous.  In addition, Thanksgiving work shifts are planned by one-fifth of smaller firms (20 percent), compared with two-thirds of firms with at least 1,000 employees (66 percent).

Thanksgiving work requirements have remained level in the past few years — and holiday shifts were considerably more common in the early 2000s. Thirty-six percent of responding employers will require at least a few employees to work on Thanksgiving Day this year, fairly level with 2014 (33 percent), 2013 (37 percent) and 2012 (36 percent).  Reports of Thanksgiving work shifts consistently exceeded 40 percent from the mid-1990s through the early 2000s, topping out at 48 percent in 2000. 
Thanksgiving gifts — turkeys, luncheons, gift certificates for food — will be distributed at a minority of employers. Thanksgiving gifts appear somewhat more widespread this year than in the recent past, with 26 percent of all responding organizations having some type of employee gift planned for late November, compared with a range of 11 to 20 percent during the previous decade.  Sixteen percent of firms will hold Thanksgiving luncheons or dinners, 7 percent will distribute gift certificates for food, while 4 percent will send workers home with a turkey. 

Bloomberg BNA has been tracking Thanksgiving employer practices since 1980 and this year’s survey is based on a survey of over 350 senior human resource and employee relations executives representing a broad cross-section of U.S. employers.  For a complimentary copy of the report and to learn more about how employers manage the Thanksgiving holiday, visit here