These last few weeks have been a whirlwind of religious holidays, with Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Eid al-Adha and even a Sikh festival. But as an employer, should you be compensating employees who miss work because of them? Christina Stoneburner of Fox Rothschild takes on the issue in this recent blog post.
“Although an employer may have to grant a reasonable accommodation of time off to observe a religious holiday, that time off can be without pay,” she explains. However, employers need to be consistent with their policies for all religious reasons. “If some employees are permitted to use vacation or other PTO time for absences due to a religious holiday, then all employees who are absent from work due to religious reasons should be similarly permitted to use paid time off,” she says.
The question arises over Christmas: What about employers who shut down for the day and give everyone a paid day off. Does that mean other non-Christian holidays should have the same protocol? Stoneburner says no. “Employers are permitted to choose which holidays the workplace will be closed and on which employees will be paid holiday pay,” she says.