Tuesday Holidays Yield More Generous Paid Time Off, Bloomberg BNA Survey Finds

Arlington, Va., (December 4, 2012) - With Christmas and New Year's Day falling on Tuesdays in 2012-13, employers' year-end holiday calendars will be much kinder to workers than in the previous two years, according to Bloomberg BNA's survey of employers' year-end holiday plans. Almost three-fifths of the surveyed employers (58 percent) have scheduled at least three paid days off for the 2012-13 holiday season, compared with about two out of five establishments responding for 2011-12 (42 percent) and 2010-11 (36 percent), when the national holidays fell on the weekend. The Bloomberg BNA survey also suggests some recovery in holiday gifts, bonuses, and party-giving from levels observed around the end of the recession.

For more than three decades, Bloomberg BNA's Year-End Holiday Practices Survey has offered an annual snapshot of companies' plans for year-end time off, recognizing employees' contributions through gifts and bonuses, holiday parties, and charitable endeavors. This year's results are based on responses from 628 human resource professionals and executives representing a broad cross-section of U.S. employers, both public and private.

A long Christmas weekend is on tap for many U.S. workers this year. Just over half  of responding employers (51 percent) have slated Monday, Dec. 24 as a paid day off.

Manufacturers' holiday schedules remain decidedly more generous than those of nonmanufacturing firms and nonbusiness establishments. The vast majority of surveyed manufacturing firms (85 percent) will grant three or more paid days off during the upcoming holiday season, compared with barely half of both nonmanufacturing companies (52 percent) and nonbusiness organizations (51 percent), such as hospitals, schools, and government agencies.

Workers in small shops stand a better chance of an extra day off than their colleagues in bigger organizations.  Nearly two-thirds of companies with fewer than 1,000 employees (65 percent) have scheduled three or more paid days off during the 2012-13 holiday season; less than half of larger employers (48 percent) will be so generous.

Holiday work shifts will force some employees to postpone their Christmas dinners and New Year's gatherings, as nearly four out of 10 surveyed establishments will require at least a few employees to work on Dec. 25, Jan. 1, or both. Christmas work shifts have been slated by 34 percent of the employers, while a few more (38 percent) will have workers on duty for New Year's Day.

Holiday gifts and bonuses have seen some resurgence in the past several years. Forty-five percent of the surveyed organizations will distribute gifts or bonuses to some or all employees in 2012-13, virtually unchanged from a year ago (46 percent) but well above the record low of 33 percent in 2009, when the recession came to its official close. Management and nonmanagement are equally likely to receive holiday cash or gifts from employers, and money still trumps merchandise as year-end expressions of company gratitude.

Gifts from clients and business associates are restricted or prohibited by the vast majority of U.S. employers. More than three out of four responding organizations (77 percent) impose formal rules on gift acceptance, including 25 percent that ban gifts entirely.

Holiday celebrations are on the slate at roughly three out of four surveyed establishments (74 percent), somewhat improved from 2009, when 67 percent sponsored any late-year festivities. Companywide events are planned by more than half of the responding employers  (55 percent), virtually unchanged from a year ago (56 percent) and up a bit from 2009 (50 percent).

Most employers will pay the entire cost of their companywide parties, but only about half will welcome spouses or guests. Among employers sponsoring festivities for the entire workforce, 86 percent will foot the entire bill, while only 48 percent will allow employees to invite guests.

Safeguards against overindulgence are standard procedure at parties where alcohol is served. Alcohol will be served at nearly two out of three events (63 percent), a modest increase from 2011-12 (55 percent) and 2010-11 (56 percent). Of the organizations serving beer, wine, or liquor at their year-end events, 84 percent reported at least one safeguard to prevent excessive consumption or protect guests. Many reported multiple precautions, including time limits, cab service, and discounted hotel rates.

Charitable activities remain a holiday tradition among a majority of U.S. employers. More than three out of five establishments (63 percent) will sponsor charitable endeavors around year's end; most of those firms will participate in multiple programs and activities.

Toy and food collections remain the predominant forms of employer-sponsored charity. Forty percent of all responding employers will sponsor toy collections for needy children; food collections and distribution follow closely behind, at 37 percent. Clothing drives are planned by one in five surveyed employers, and nearly as many (16 percent) will sponsor money collections.

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