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Wednesday, April 23 2014, 09:23 AM MDT
Good Question: Paid Holidays
By Matt Gephardt
Edited by Ryan Malvolta
Photography by Brian Morris
(KUTV) Good Question: why do some people get ‘national holidays’ off work while others don’t?

The question comes from Steve in American Fork. Steve notes that many people are revving up for a three day weekend with the Memorial Day holiday on Monday, but some people will be working. And Steve wants to know, why aren't all national holidays celebrated equally?

A lot of people in Utah will have the day off. Banks will be closed as will post offices. Even Modern Display in Salt Lake City, a store selling loads of Memorial Day items, will be closed for the national holiday.

"It's a holiday that we get, so it's nice to be closed," says Modern Display manager Shane Atkin. Shane says he looks forward to the five paid holidays he gets a year. But why only five?! By law, congress has established 11 federal holidays: New Year's Day, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, President's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Inauguration Day.

So why doesn't everyone get the same days off? It’s a good question.

According to a 1999 congressional research report, federal holidays are only applicable to federal employees. The report says states individually decide their own legal holidays.

Here in Utah, state officials have more or less stayed with the national trend. There are 11 Utah state holidays with two notable exceptions. Here in Utah we do not celebrate Columbus Day. Instead, we celebrate Pioneer Day.

All those holidays only go for government employees. There is no federal law that requires an employer to provide time off, paid or otherwise, to employees on holidays. It’s frustrating to some private-sector workers, sure. As for Shane, he says he is happy that his Modern Display bosses give him the days that he does get.

"We're retail so it's a little bit different," he said. “I mean we get a decent amount [of days] off."

While an employer does not have to give any specific paid holiday, they do however have to provide reasonable accommodation for the religious practices of its employees. That's why a lot of employers have floating holidays. Religious employees can move that day around and make whatever day they want a holiday.

Thanks Steve for the good question. If you have one, email Gephardt@kutv.tv or call (801) 839-1301

(Copyright 2013 Sinclair Broadcasting Group)

Good Question: Paid Holidays

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