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Survey: Over One-Third of Employers Required Some to Work on Thanksgiving

Topics: Data & Research

Did you work this Thanksgiving? If so, you’re not alone. Bloomberg BNA’s 2015 Thanksgiving Holiday Practices Survey showed that 36 percent of companies asked at least some of their workers to clock in this holiday, up from 33 percent last year.

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(Photo: “Caveman Chuck” Coker/Flickr)

“While 96 percent of employers will designate Thanksgiving a paid day off, a number of organizations will require at least some of their employees to work on the holiday,” said Robert Combs, Bloomberg BNA’s Manager of Custom Research, in a statement.

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On the upside, Combs says, most of those workers would be paid for their time, either in the form of holiday pay or additional days off.

“In fact, 82 percent of employers requiring Thanksgiving duty will provide workers extra pay and/or leave this year,” he said. “And, as an added bonus, most of those workers won’t have supervisors looking over their shoulder as less than 10 percent of organizations have management staff scheduled for work shifts on Thanksgiving.”

Of course, 82 percent of employers offering extras to make up for lost holiday time also means that 18 percent of employers made at least some of their workers toil away without. Employers aren’t required to provide holiday pay or comp days, unless workers’ contracts explicitly state it, and only government employees are guaranteed a paid day off. (Thanksgiving is one of 10 paid holidays for government workers, including New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday, Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Independence Day (4th of July), Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.)

Who Is Working on Thanksgiving Day?

When we think about who is required to work on a holiday, employees at big box stores and other retail outlets probably spring to mind. But, many occupations clock in on holidays for less frivolous reasons than our holiday shopping needs. The survey found that workers who are responsible for public safety or maintenance are most likely to work on Thanksgiving, including:

  • Security and public safety workers (14 percent)
  • Service and maintenance staff (13 percent)
  • Technicians (13 percent)

Other Highlights From the Survey:

  • Want Thanksgiving off next year? Look for a job at a smaller company. Seventy-nine percent of organizations with fewer than 1,000 workers had paid holidays on both Thanksgiving and Black Friday in 2015. Only 58 percent of larger companies offered the same.
  • Fewer employers are requiring work on Thanksgiving than 15 years ago. For the past few years, the number of companies asking at least some of their employees to work on Thanksgiving has stayed fairly steady at 33 to 37 percent. In 2000, 48 percent of companies asked some workers to come in on the holiday.
  • More companies are offering some kind of holiday treat for workers who do have to come in to work, whether it’s a Thanksgiving lunch or dinner (16 percent), gift certificates for food (7 percent), or a free turkey (4 percent). Twenty-six percent of organizations who responded to the survey gave workers some kind of treat this year, compared with 11 to 20 percent a decade ago.

Tell Us What You Think

Did you work on Thanksgiving? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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