We Protect Workers

Does your employer have to grant religious holidays off?

You have a religion that you practice, and that religion happens to line up with several federal holidays. In your mind, there should be no question that you’re off work that day in respect for the holiday, but your current employer doesn’t give time off.

Did you know that there isn’t a law requiring employers to give you time off on federal holidays? They also don’t have to offer holiday pay if you work on that date. However, there is an exception. If you practice a religion and need that day off for religious purposes, then you can ask your employer for that time off. They should grant it as a reasonable accommodation.

What should you do if your employer won’t grant you time off for religious purposes?

If you need time off to observe your faith, then your employer should give you time off at your request under the Title VII anti-discrimination statute as well as other protective laws. The only exception is if your time off would create an undue hardship for the employer. In that case, the employer may still ask you to come to work on that holiday. For example, if your employer would need to reduce productivity or hire in a replacement for you for the day, then this could be justified as undue hardship.

What are reasonable accommodations for religious needs?

Some reasonable accommodations may include:

  • Shifting your shift to another time to allow you to work at a time when you are not observing the holiday
  • Taking unpaid leave for the religious observance
  • Taking your paid leave for religious purposes
  • Exchanging a shift with another employee for religious purposes

These are just a few potential reasonable accommodations that may be allowed.

If your employer is unreasonable or refuses to allow for reasonable accommodations when you believe that you should receive them, then you may have a case against your employer for violating your rights as an employee. Everyone’s case is different, so you may want to look closely into anti-discrimination and Equal Employment Opportunity Act information before deciding how to move forward with your case.