California Legal Holidays Laws

When we start working full-time, most of us lose the summer and winter breaks we were able to look forward to while in school. In the working world, the next best thing (besides using up precious vacation and sick days) would have to be legal or government holidays.

Legal holidays are days on which government offices are typically closed. However, these holidays may also apply to employees in the private sector, as well. Whether or not you are a non-exempt or exempt employee determines how your pay may or may not be affected by a legal holiday.

In general, those employees working hourly wage jobs fall into the non-exempt category. While not required by law, employers often pay non-exempt employees overtime when working more than 40 hours a week. When it comes to holidays, non-exempt employees who work on holidays may qualify for holiday pay, which is equivalent to time and a half (150% of their hourly rate).

Exempt employees, on the other hand, are generally those workers who meet the following three conditions:

  1. Make at least $23,600 per year;
  2. Paid on a salary basis; and
  3. Perform exempt job duties (which include executive, professional, and administrative work).

Employees falling under this category usually are not entitled to overtime or holiday pay. But, again, it's up to the employer and sometimes offering premium pay on holidays is a good incentive.

California’s legal holidays include national holidays, which are those holidays observed by the federal government and each of the 50 states -- such as New Year's Day and Thanksgiving. California also recognizes holidays more specific to the state, such as Cesar Chavez Day (in honor of the labor leader and civil rights activist) and Admission Day (the anniversary of California’s admission into the Union).

The following table summarizes legal holidays in California:

HOLIDAY

DATE

Every Sunday

Every Sunday

New Year’s Day

January 1

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

(3rd Monday in January)

Lincoln Day

February 12

President’s Day (Washington’s Birthday)

(3rd Monday in February)

Cesar Chavez Day*

March 31

Memorial Day

(last Monday of May)

Independence Day

July 4

Labor Day

(1st Monday in September)

Admission Day

September 9

Columbus Day

(2nd Monday in October)

Veterans Day

November 11

December 25

Christmas Day

Good Friday

12pm - 3pm

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact a California employment attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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