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Wisconsin Legal Holidays Laws

They are just as effective at marking the passing seasons as spring showers and changing leaves. Legal holidays help us remember historical figures and national events, and take up the same prominence on our calendars as birthdays and anniversaries. We all enjoy the odd Monday or Friday out of the office, but when it comes to how our employers treat holiday pay, not all holidays are created equal. This is a brief introduction to legal holidays laws in Wisconsin.

Holidays in Wisconsin

Legal holidays like Thanksgiving or Memorial Day are dates set aside for celebration or remembrance. Most employees will get the day off, or if they choose to work, will earn extra holiday pay. Each state has its own legal holidays laws, which can designate some additional legal holidays on top of those recognized by the federal government. Wisconsin, for instance, allows for holidays on primary and general election days.

Wisconsin Legal Holidays Statutes

The following chart highlights Wisconsin’s legal holiday laws.

Code Section



New Year's Day; Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Birthday; President's Day; Good Friday (11am-3pm observed for purpose of worship); Memorial Day; Independence Day; Labor Day; any primary election day in September; Columbus Day; any general election day in November; Veterans Day; Thanksgiving; Christmas

Legal Holidays and Employment

When most of us are thinking about holidays, we think about time away from work, and how that will affect our employment. Wisconsin, like every state, has strict wage and hour laws that regulate how much employees earn via minimum wage and overtime pay. But not all employers are legally required to give their employees holidays off or even pay employees extra for working legal holidays. And there is no federal employment law that guarantees a special overtime rate for work performed on legal holidays.

Therefore, private employers in Wisconsin can compel their employees to work on New Year’s, Hanukkah, or Christmas, and pay only the normal wage. That said, most employers recognize that voluntarily giving employees legal holidays off or providing overtime pay for working on a holiday makes for a happier staff. Whether you get legal holidays off or get paid extra for working on a holiday generally depends on the specific terms of your employment contract.

Wisconsin Legal Holidays Laws: Related Resources

States and private employers can treat legal holidays differently. For additional articles and resources on this topic, you can visit FindLaw's Employment Law section. If you would like legal assistance with an employment case, you can contact an Wisconsin employment law attorney in your area.

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