misconceptions about probationary periods


Employers sometimes use “probationary periods” when hiring new employees or promoting employees into a new position. Employers use the probationary period as a time to assess whether the new hire or newly promoted employee is a good fit for the position. Typically, probationary periods range from 3 months to 6 months.

The following are frequently asked questions, along with some common misconceptions, about probationary periods.

Q: Are probationary periods a good idea?

A: Probationary periods can lead to confusion regarding whether the employment relationship is “at-will”. “At-will” means that either the employee or the employer may terminate the employment relationship at any time, for any lawful reason. When employers use probationary periods, employees sometimes think that once they successfully complete a probationary period, they are no longer at risk for termination based upon their performance. This misunderstanding can lead to increased risk of wrongful termination lawsuits if the employer terminates the employee. Accordingly, with the exception of collective bargaining agreements or circumstances where the employer wishes to enter into a contract with a particular employee, probationary periods are generally not considered a best practice.

Additionally, the term “probationary period” may have a negative connotation for new employees. New hires may misinterpret “probationary” to mean that they are immediately placed on a disciplinary action plan at the start of their employment. This could negatively impact the employee’s perception of the company.

Q: How can I help employees understand my company’s probationary period policy?

A: If your company requires that new employees enter into a probationary period, make sure that your probationary period policies and procedures are carefully worded and applied consistently to all new hires. Your policies should make clear that upon successful completion of the probationary period, the status of the new hire’s employment will remain “at-will.” The policy should also make clear that “at-will” status is in effect even during the probationary period. Employers should consider consulting with legal counsel to ensure that their probationary period policies are drafted and implemented properly.

Note: Employers should also have a clear employment at-will disclaimer in their employee handbook to make the employment relationship clear.

Q: Which states recognize at-will employment?

A: In the United States, employment relationships are presumed to be at-will in all states except Montana. In Montana, employers can generally only terminate employees for good cause once they have completed the employer’s probationary period. If an employer does not establish a specific probationary period in Montana, the default probationary period is six months from the date of hire.

Q: Why would employers use probationary periods?

A: Probationary periods originated in union environments. It was a way for employers subject to a collective bargaining agreement to have a short period of time to evaluate employees where they would not be governed by the same termination requirements as during the regular employment period. Some non-union employers have since adopted the practice believing it is a way to assess a new hire’s skills and qualifications without the burden of following certain requirements that come with the employment relationship. Some employers also misconstrue the probationary period to mean that they would be free from wrongful termination lawsuits should the relationship not work out. This, however, is not true. New hires generally have the same protections as other employees and can be terminated at any time during the employment relationship. Having a special probationary period does not change that.

Q: What about an introductory period, training period, or orientation period? Are these different?

A: Some employers use an “introductory period,” “training period,” or “orientation period.” However, they all generally refer to the same type of initial period. And, if not handled correctly, they all run the risk of confusing employees regarding their employment status. Employers should carefully assess the benefit of having introductory periods, and if they wish to continue using them, consider working with legal counsel to develop and implement such policies.

Q: Without probationary periods, how can my company help make sure new hires are (and will continue to be) a good fit?

A: Employers should develop an effective hiring process to help find the best candidates for the position and avoid bad hires. During the interview process, employers should ask job-related and behavioral-based questions, and, where appropriate, should conduct post-offer job-related background and reference checks to help determine whether candidates have the potential to succeed in the open position.

Once hired, all employers should provide new employees with a comprehensive orientation process to familiarize them with the company (and vice versa). Supervisors should work closely with new hires, giving them the information, tools, and support they need to succeed. Supervisors should also establish clear goals, provide feedback and coaching regularly, and evaluate performance proactively and consistently.

Q: Without a probationary period, can my company require new hires to wait before they enroll in our health plan or are eligible for paid time off?

A: The Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) prohibits group health plans from applying a waiting period that exceeds 90 days for individuals otherwise eligible to enroll. Under the ACA, health plans are permitted to use “orientation periods” without violating the 90-day waiting period rule if the following requirements are met:

  • The period is not more than one month.
  • The 90-day waiting period begins on the first day after the orientation period.

Generally, employers may also establish reasonable waiting periods for employees to become eligible for voluntary company provided benefits, such as paid time off. Note: Some states and local jurisdictions have established paid leave laws that will have their own eligibility requirements with which covered employers must comply.

Q: If employees are terminated during their introductory period, are they disqualified from unemployment benefits?

A: The fact that an individual was terminated during an introductory period would not disqualify the employee from unemployment benefits. The same rules regarding eligibility for unemployment still apply. However, length of employment may be a factor in determining how much the employer will be impacted by the employee’s unemployment claim.

signs that it’s time to move your career forward


We all get content at times, especially at a job that pays decently well and comes with a good group of co-workers. Maybe your job isn’t what you really want to do for the rest of your life, but you start convincing yourself, “This is fine—it’s not my dream job, but it’ll do for now.”

And there’s nothing wrong with feeling content or comfortable at your job.

But keep in mind that being “content” can easily lead to complacency—and that’s the danger zone. Complacency tends to generate excuses (“I’ll put up with this just for a few more months,” or “I just don’t have time to do a job search right now”) and leads us to settle (“This job will do for now,” or “Maybe I don’t need to be a VP [or fill in your blank dream job here]”). Worst of all, complacency will eventually lead to fear. And fear holds us back.

I have seen too many smart and talented friends and colleagues who have stayed in just-OK jobs. When they do decide to move on, they’ve been out of the job market for so long that they can’t even take that first step to update their resume—let alone apply for jobs. They’re gripped by fear of re-entering a different job market than the one they last recall. They have almost forgotten what it’s like to go on interviews. They feel inadequate compared to their peers and think the train has already passed them by. These feelings of fear can quickly get overwhelming, and the easy way out is often to postpone the job search, to ignore the matter at hand—and to spend more time in a less-than-dream-job.

So, if there’s one piece of advice I could give to anyone who wants to advance professionally, it’s this: Do not get complacent. In fact, make time to regularly check in with yourself about your career happiness and goals and consider whether it might be time to make that next move.

1) You can’t sleep at night due to the stress and thought of having to go into work the next day. The stress and lack of sleep really began to negatively affect my health.

2) You are not getting any feedback. If your direct manager doesn’t provide feedback on your performance—or the feedback is generic and thus difficult to take action on—it’s pretty tough to learn what it takes to move up within your organization or grow as a professional. The best managers are engaged with your career development and regularly offer advice and guidance—and if yours doesn’t, you owe it to yourself to look elsewhere.

3) The stress from the job makes you irritable and cranky around your family and friends. I was no fun to be around during this time. This job was so stressful that it started to negatively affect the relationships with my loved ones.

4) The job has zapped all the life out of you. You are tired all the time and lack the motivation you once had. This can happen when your company has no policy or no intention of ever implementing a work/life balance program for employees.

5) You are not learning. If your learning curve has flattened out or you’re really not feeling challenged, this may signal a need to move on. You may not be learning something new every day on the job, but you should be improving upon your core skills and picking up new ones. You often have to take this into your own hands, of course—asking to be involved in a new project, signing up for courses you’re interested in, or attending a relevant conference or seminar in your discipline, for example. But if these possibilities don’t exist at your current job, it’s a sign that the company is not serious about investing in your career development.

6) You don’t agree with the corporate culture or the direction the company is headed. In my case, the culture was a turn and burn environment. They had a high pressure environment, and we lived in constant fear of losing our jobs. There was no value placed in sales professionals, and the place was a revolving door.

7) Your ideas are not being heard, and your work is not valued. Many companies do a very poor job of recognizing their employees for their hard work and accomplishments. They don’t have any concept of the value in saying thank you.

8) You’re living the status quo. If you’ve been at the same company and position without any advancement or promotion for the past three years—and you want to continue moving your career forward—it’s time to look elsewhere. Even in a large organization where promotions are tough to come by, you should be able to make some sort of upward movement within this time frame.

9) You are the victim of verbal abuse, sexual harassment, or other types of illegal behavior. At the job I quit, I was bullied and verbally abused by my old boss. HR was no help and upper management turned a blind eye to it. DO NOT put up with this!

Given that many of us spend over 40 hours per week at our jobs, you owe it to yourself to regularly evaluate your career situation. Even if you’re perfectly happy at your current job, make it a habit to check in with yourself (or with a trusted buddy, if that’s helpful) at least twice a year. Not only is it a good opportunity to review your accomplishments (and get in the habit of regularly updating your resume!), but you’ll also force yourself to gauge the market conditions within your industry.

Best of all, going through this process will mean you’ll either find more satisfaction out of your current job—or you’ll discover new opportunities and move on to the next big thing.


-John White, Camilla Cho

new job? avoid these 5 common mistakes!


Even if you graduated with honors and were a superstar during your summer internship, starting your first job can bring on a whole new set of challenges. You have a big learning curve ahead of you, you need to feel your way around the office culture, and you want to impress a group of people with whom who you’ll probably be working for a very long time.

So, how do you get off on the right foot? You’ve probably already heard some common advice about dressing appropriately, being on time, and investing in a retirement plan. However, when I talked to some of my fellow seasoned managers, they also brought up some less-obvious advice, based on mistakes they often see new professionals making. So before you suit up on that first day, read on for some important advice on what not to do.

Mistake #1: Getting Involved in Office Politics

When you’re new to an office, it can be easy to trust your co-workers when they start complaining, talking about others, or throwing out office conspiracy theories about what upper management is plotting next. They know the ropes, so they must be right—right?

Not exactly. Some of these veterans may have grown a cynical streak over the years, so it’s better to keep an open mind about your new co-workers and company than to be swayed by others’ opinions and experiences. Plus, gossiping by the water cooler when you should be working will hardly make a good impression on your boss. When the office politicking or complaining starts, it’s okay to smile, nod—and not get involved.

Mistake #2: Trying to be a Maverick on the First Day

Are you excited to dive in and make a difference as soon as possible? Hold on just a sec. The truth is, you’ll impress your supervisor more by learning the ins and outs of your job duties and department first. No one ever appreciates the overeager new employee who thinks she can solve all the department’s problems before even really understanding how things work.

Once you’ve got a good grasp on your job, feel free to ask for some of the more exciting opportunities you see or make suggestions for process improvements. You’ll have plenty of time to start making more meaningful contributions—just make sure that you’re doing a stellar job at your job, first.


Mistake #3: Not Asking for Help

No one will expect you to know everything. In fact, if you’re unclear on something, your co-workers probably prefer that you ask questions now instead of guessing and making a mistake you’ll have to fix later. It’s perfectly okay to admit when you need help or clarification, and there are plenty of people around you who were once in your shoes and would be happy to share their expertise. So ask them!

Also don’t be afraid to reach out to a variety of people besides your boss—you might find a great mentor or friend in the process.

Mistake #4: Not Communicating Enough

After you’ve learned the ropes a bit and are off and running, remember that you still need to keep your boss actively in the loop about what you’re working on and the progress you’re making. Get an idea of how often your boss likes to be updated, both in general and when you’re working on a particular project. Does she want to debrief at weekly meetings, or would she prefer periodic emails detailing the latest updates?

In addition to these regular updates, be sure to communicate anything important that comes up—including the bad news. The last thing you want is for your boss to be in a meeting and hear about something for the first time, leaving her unprepared. As my own boss likes to say, “I don’t like surprises.”

Mistake #5: Not Appreciating the Opportunity

Chances are, your first professional job is not going to be exactly what you had in mind. My first job in export customer service was certainly far from glamorous: I had to deal with irate customers, perform routine data entry, deliver bad news, and learn about papermaking (yawn!).

But you know what? It was a good opportunity. After all, customer relationship skills are always highly desirable, and learning the paper business showed I could pick up new things quickly. In addition, I learned how the corporate world worked, and I gained some valuable contacts and mentors.

Even if your first job isn’t necessarily your dream job, don’t dismiss it as a waste of time. Think instead about the new experiences you’re gaining—running meetings, putting together presentations, dealing with clients, or even just spending time at a company that will look great on your resume. Even a small change in perspective make “paying your dues” at a so-so job seem much more worthwhile.

5 steps for making your next career move

Better Job, Just Ahead Green Road Sign with Copy Room Over The Dramatic Clouds and Sky.

Your career is one half of your work/ life balance. For some it is even more than half. Finding that perfect career that will facilitate growth, offer new opportunities, and keep you comfortable is incredibly important. Once you find that career opportunity, you are not finished; you still need to land it.

imatters helps eye care professionals just like yourself discuss and make that transition to a new career or practice. We have put together a list of 5 steps to help make your career move that much more successful.

Step #1 – Be ruthlessly honest with yourself.

Facing your fears is no cake walk. Be prepared to dig deep to get to your inner “truths” so you can begin to understand what deep-seated anxiety and fears influence your decision making. Are you afraid of being out of a job? Disappointing your family? Not making much money or a meaningful contribution to the world? Whatever your fears, the process of pivoting your life starts with coming to terms with what is holding you back.

Step #2 – Write it out.

For many years I was an avid journal writer. Writing, I found, helps bring clarity and vision to what otherwise feels like a morass of thoughts and feelings. Write it all out. Make a list of your fears, directions to go in, the pros and cons of changing or staying put. Some of the best career counseling I ever got was between me and my journal. Just stay honest with yourself. And keep it real.

Step #3 – Talk it out.

Whether it’s friends, co-workers, a mentor, family, or psychologist, asking others for help is key. Just always keep in mind who you are talking to as people have their own bias. Most people, I’ve learned, are risk averse and afraid to change. And their feedback will be more about “being realistic” rather than helping you figure out how to turn your dream into a reality. Seek out people who conquered their fears and are living the life you want to live.

Step #4 – Listen to your gut.

The “gut”, I’ve learned, deserves respect. It isn’t always right but it’s right more often than not. Don’t be afraid to hear what it has to say. Learn to listen to it and trust it. Let your gut act as a light for you to follow, guiding you through tough decisions.

Step #5 – Embrace change. Don’t fear it.

Fear is a incredibly strong emotion. From my experience, fear of change is the #1 reason why people stay where they are and never come close to living a truly fulfilling life. Yet life itself is forever evolving and changing, ourselves included. Once you uncover the fears that keep you up at night, take ownership of them. Attack them. Embrace them. Own them so that they no longer hold power over you. Only then will you free yourself up to make decisions based not on your fears but on yours passions.

5 phrases to never put on your resume

resume pictureYour resume is the first one of the more important assets when trying to impress that hiring manager. Realistically, it is the first thing the interviewer will see, and only the best resumes make it through to the interview stage. Every word counts, and presentation is everything.

When you’re writing your resume, it’s best to avoid the cliche words that hiring managers and recruiters see over and over again. Even if you feel the terms are accurate, there is usually a livelier, more original way to describe yourself.

Here are five words and phrases you should avoid putting on your resume.


Hard Worker

Describing vaguely positive traits in a resume doesn’t prove your worth and may even undermine your value as a candidate in failing to show how you’re different. Focus on concrete skills and accomplishments instead of relying on personal description through adjectives, says David Allocco, a business development and operations executive at PierceGray, Inc.

“I would avoid the term ‘hard worker’ as it’s general and something anyone could apply to themselves,” Allocco says. “Instead, highlight actual accomplishments and results you can show off to potential employers. They like seeing data-driven numbers as opposed to general blanket statements.”



Idioms may add color to an informal conversation, but they don’t distinguish you professionally when used on your resume.

“Avoid overused and tired business idioms: out-of-the-box, win-win, core competencies, empowered, best practices There are many more; these are perfectly acceptable words, but they’ve been so overused that people are sick of them,” says Karen Southall Watts, author of “Go Coach Yourself.” “Rephrase and think clarity and not jargon. Avoid describing duties and instead focus on results. ‘Supervised a team of 12’ is much less compelling than ‘Led sales team to 5% increase in total closed deals.’”



Avoid mentioning money before you even get to the interview. “Any mention of the word ‘salary’ on a résumé sets off red alarms to an employer and would discourage them from bringing you in for an interview,” warns George Bernocco, a resume writer.


Reference Available Upon Request

This line isn’t necessary.

“Do not put ‘Reference available upon request’, or the names and contact points of the references themselves,” advises Elliot Lasson, executive director of Joblink of Maryland, Inc. “The former is understood, superfluous, and therefore just takes up valuable space. As for the latter, given that companies will often ask for a waiver before contacting references, they should probably be kept in a separate document.”



Your resume isn’t simply a summary of yourself. You are talking about yourself, technically, but through the lens of the company’s needs and expectations.

“We already know your objective,” says Lisa Rokusek, a managing partner at AgentHR Recruiting Group. “Instead of telling us about what you want, use this space to tell us about you and your experience. Make sure it is relevant to the role you are interested in. Make a thought argument for getting a conversation.”


sample job posting: optician + luxury boutique optical location = your career in NYC

Opticians licensed and ready to be licensed; your career in boutique retail has arrived!http://www.mediafire.com/convkey/7da5/xeh4g3rtltl6hkqfg.jpg?size_id=3
imatters is exclusively representing our newest client with several locations in NYC – including soho, east village, and other manhattan/nyc locations. With a growing business, we have several opportunities, including managers, assistant managers and optician opportunities.
Join us with a history in luxury goods, handling high end eyewear, and blending fashion with the medical function of your talent. We see that success as premium eyewear is delivered, and showcased on celebrities and their friends. Start building your reputation as a boutique optician and see your future soar with flexible hours, with an above average salary, excellent work environment and great benefits. we invite all candidates whom possess a history of extensive luxury eyewear sales experience, great customer service and interpersonal skills , licensed or ready to be licensed as an NY optician.
Lets get started today, by sending your resume to our dedicated spokesperson Charisse, email charisse@imatters.net, fax 866.461.4097, talk confidentially about your career at 866.412.4115 x 700.

sample job posting: Ophthalmic Technicians – Our Eyes Are On You- Dallas

Great news ophthalmic technicians!  We have a rare opportunity to join our established, premier ophthalmology practice in Dallas. Our physicians have been recognized in D-Magazine as “Best Ophthalmologists” and “Best LASIK Surgeons” for the past 13 years. Our practice also recognized as one of “DFW’s Top 100″ places to work by the Dallas Morning News.

We currently have an opening for an experienced ophthalmic technician. We are looking for a highly motivated, dependable individual with excellent communication and organizational skills.

This position requires experience in patient history taking, refractions, patient workups, tonometry, A-scans, visual acuity and other diagnostic testing. Experience with electronic medical records is a plus. In addition to a highly competitive salary, we offer a comprehensive benefits package.

This is an excellent opportunity for someone to join a highly professional ophthalmic care team.

to apply for our career – send your resume to charisse@imatters.net.  fax 866.461.4097, chat: 866.412.4115 and see this and other careers at www.imatters.net

Eye Foods, a Plan For Healthy Eyes

If you have not already purchased or read this book, I am recommending it again. This is a great book called eyefoods by Laurie Capogna OD and Barbara Pelletier eyefoodsOD. The official title is Eye Foods A food Plan for Healthy Eyes.

This book is fantastic and so easy to read, understand and follow.

Chapter One: It starts out with common eye- diseases, risk factors and then goes on to describe how to control with diet.

Chapter Two is Eye Nutrients with a brief and layman description if eye nutrients and what they do with dietary Reference Intakes.

Chapter 3 is Eyefoods; This chapter details eye foods, what they do weekly target, what eye nutrients they have and an overview. Also provided are Meal ideas.

Chapter 4 is Lifestyle and General Health- UV, Smoking, body mass, physical activity, AMD and Cardio.

Chapter 5- The eyefoods plan.

There is more.. the gist of it, this is the start of a great wellness program for you, the office and your patients. It is on Amazon Eyefoods: A Food Plan for Healthy Eyes. In addition, it gives you interesting tidbits to promote eye health to your patients on Facebook and other social media platforms.

lost pet prevention tips for the 4th of july

Fourth of July is a fun summer holiday for most people, but for many animals, it’s a nightmare. The booming fireworks, festivals and company coming and going make this holiday particularly difficult for our pets. According to Petfinder, more pets are lost on the Fourth of July than any other day of the year. It doesn’t have to be that way if you think in advance about lost pet prevention. Here are 10 tips.


Extra security goes a long way – Check gates, doors, fences and other areas that a spooked dog (or cat) could escape to make sure that everything is secure. Inspect your dog’s collar and leash to make sure he can’t slip out of the back of the collar and to make sure the leash is both strong and secure. This step goes a long way in lost pet prevention.

Get your dog plenty of exercise before the party starts – Take your dog for a long walk or romp in the dog park before your company comes over or before your community fireworks are slated for the evening. Often the best prevention is leaving your pet at home since the crowds, explosions and everything else that is associated with the parades and fireworks on the Fourth are often too much for dogs.

Keep a tight grip on your dog’s leash – This sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s so easy to slip up. A small distraction when you are out with your dog – like a small noise or something blowing in the wind – could startle your dog and cause her to bolt. Make sure all pet’s microchips are up-to-date.

Make sure your pet has updated tags and microchips – Dogs slip out of fenced in yards and indoor cats also escape. That’s why it’s important to make sure they are microchipped, that the chips work and are up-to-date. Your dog should always wear his or her tags just in case. It’s also important to keep an updated digital photo of your pet if you need to make a lost pet flyer.

Create a safe zone for your pet – Keeping your pet calm is another important lost pet prevention tipSet up a comfortable spot in a quiet room or crate for your pet. If you have company coming and going, your pet may easily slip out.  There is an estimated 30 percent increase in lost dogs during fireworks. Shut the windows, turn on the air conditioning and some background noise before leaving for fireworks.

Check into other calming methods – If a Thunder shirt, Rescue Remedy or other medication works during a storm, you may need to suit your pet up or medicate her prior to the rockets red glare. Set up your pet’s crate in a quiet room to give them a safe place to get out of the fray.

Should your dog get out, immediately contact the shelter or rescue. It doesn’t matter if you’ve had your pet a long time or if you’ve recently adopted a dog or cat. If he or she gets loose, call the shelter, rescue or foster home immediately for help. Don’t be embarrassed and consider the safety of your pet – their network could be vital in helping you find your pet.

Get the word out. Dogs do get out and get lost. Contact local police, shelters and rescues, local veterinarians and animal controls to let them know your pet is missing.  Provide a description and digital photo, get signs out and utilize social media. The more you reach out, the more your chances of reuniting with your lost pet improves.

Take extra pet loss preventative steps with shy or timid pets -

Taking extra precautions will keep your pet safe on the Fourth of July.

Keep the lead on. Since shy, fearful or newly adopted dogs will try to run and hide if frightened, leave a short lead on in the house and a longer lead in the yard. He or she should drag it around and you then have something to grab if your dog bolts or runs from you.

Consider investing in a tracking device. There are GPS units available for pets that make it easier to track down those that bolt and hide. A popular option is the Tagg Pet Tracking Device.


by Raining Cats and Dogs

9 Myths and Facts About Company Holidays


With the holiday season upon us, employers may have questions about providing time off for certain holidays, how to handle pay for company recognized holidays, and how best to manage time off requests and scheduling issues. To help clarify these issues, we’ve addressed several myths concerning company holidays.

Myth: Employers are required to observe certain holidays.

Fact: Under federal law, employers in the private sector can choose whether or not to observe holidays. Some of the most common company recognized holidays include: New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Note that some states require certain types of businesses to be closed on legal holidays and certain employees to be able to take off on certain holidays (e.g., veterans on Veteran’s Day). Check your state law to ensure compliance.

Myth: Employers cannot require employees to work on a holiday.

Fact: Under federal law, an employer generally may require employees to work on a holiday. Employers should remember, however, that they may need to consider providing reasonable accommodations for employees’ religious beliefs and practices. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, employers with 15 or more employees are generally required to provide reasonable accommodations for employees’ sincerely held religious beliefs and practices, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship. This may include providing unpaid time off. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Compliance Manual has a number of best practices for providing religious accommodations, such as encouraging and facilitating voluntary shift swaps and permitting flexible scheduling.

Myth: Employers must pay non-exempt employees for time off on company holidays.

Fact: Employers generally are not required to pay non-exempt employees when they do not work on a holiday, unless the employer has a policy or practice stating otherwise. However, most employers do offer paid holidays to full-time, non-exempt employees.

Myth: Employers can make deductions from exempt employees’ salaries when the company is closed on a holiday.

Fact: But for a few very limited exceptions, exempt employees must receive their full salary for any workweek in which they perform any work. This means that if the company is closed on a holiday and the employee works any part of the workweek, he or she must still receive their full salary, regardless of whether the employer offers paid holidays.

Myth: Non-exempt employees who work from home on a company recognized holiday without prior authorization are not entitled to pay.

Fact: Employers must pay employees for all hours worked, regardless of whether the time was authorized in advance. The employer, however, may consistently apply their disciplinary action policy to employees who work without prior authorization, but in no case may the employer withhold pay.

Myth: All non-exempt employees must receive “premium pay” when they work on a holiday.

Fact: Under federal law, private sector employers are not generally required to provide premium pay for work performed on holidays (other than the overtime premium required for work in excess of 40 hours in a workweek). While the majority of states do not require premium pay for work on a holiday either, there are exceptions for certain employers in states such as Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Be sure to check your state law to ensure compliance. Even if not required, some employers voluntarily provide premium pay for working on a holiday as an incentive to employees, typically either 1.5 times or 2 times an employee’s normal pay rate.

Myth: Paid holidays must be included when determining whether overtime is due.

Fact: Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), non-exempt employees are entitled to overtime for “hours worked” in excess of 40 in a workweek. Paid time off, including time off for holidays, is not considered “hours worked” under the FLSA. For example, consider the situation where an employee works 30 hours during the workweek of Christmas, receives December 24 and December 25 off as paid holidays, and is paid for 46 hours. Under federal law, the employee would not be entitled to overtime pay because his or her actual hours worked is 30. Some employers, however, choose to voluntarily count paid holiday time off as hours worked.

Myth: If a company holiday falls on an employee’s regular day off, an employer must offer the employee another day off.

Fact: If a holiday falls on an employee’s day off, employers are not required to offer another day off, but some employers do so voluntarily. For instance, consider when an employee regularly has Wednesday off and your company offers Christmas (which falls on a Wednesday this year) as a paid holiday. You may choose to provide the employee with another paid day off (e.g., the day after Christmas) since the employee’s schedule would have had him or her off for Christmas anyway.

Myth: Employers cannot require non-exempt employees to work the day before and after a company holiday to be paid for the holiday.

Fact: Under federal law, employers are generally permitted to require non-exempt employees to work the day before and after a company holiday in order to receive pay for the holiday time off. Typically, employers do not apply this policy to employees who scheduled the time off in advance. Note: This practice may not be applied to exempt employees.


Employers should ensure that their holiday policies and practices comply with federal and state law, are clearly communicated to employees in writing, and are applied consistently to all employees.