What Alternatives Can I Offer to Paid Holidays?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the average small business offers 7.6 paid holidays each year to their fulltime employees. The reality is, not every business is average. Some may offer fewer days, others can’t afford to offer any. But not having the phrase “paid holidays” in your job postings can put you at a competitive disadvantage. Is there something else you can offer that won’t break your budget? Consider these alternatives to supplement a below-average holiday benefit.

What’s Required

Generally, businesses are not required to pay for time not worked on a holiday. However, it may be required if you operate on a government contract. And some state or local municipalities may have specific requirements. Check with your legal representative to confirm what’s required in your area.

There are a number of factors that influence the decision to offer paid time off. These include business type, length of time in business or type of employee. Retail businesses often realize their biggest revenue happens during the holidays, so they stay open. A security firm needs to provide 24/7 coverage. Some businesses hire only part-time or seasonal employees. In these cases, the lack of paid holidays may be less of an issue.

There are also implications for recruiting and retaining employees. Employees with children want to spend time with their families during the holidays. Not providing leave can put you at a competitive disadvantage. Some businesses compensate by at least offering unpaid holiday time off.

Filling Out Your Leave Package

Even if you can’t afford to offer paid holidays, there are other, lower-cost alternatives you might consider. They can also be used if you offer unpaid holidays or you need to staff during a holiday. Some might even be offered to your part-time staff.

  • Work from home days – If you need to stay open during holidays, allow employees to work from home. It’s not the same as a day off, but it saves them from commuting and generally provides a more relaxed atmosphere.
  • Flexible work schedule – Do you always need staffing from the traditional 9 to 5? Some businesses allow employees to work longer hours leading up to or after a holiday in exchange for all or part of a holiday off. Others use “on-call” status to bring employees in only if there’s a demand during a holiday.
  • In-business holiday – If you can’t celebrate the holiday at home, bring it to the office. Some businesses create a holiday atmosphere during those days by allowing casual dress, having a free food day, bringing your pet to work, or playing holiday music. Businesses with customer contact will need to balance their service needs with the celebration.
  • Community service opportunities – Some businesses allow employees to use paid time before or after a holiday to volunteer at a local nonprofit. For example, they can serve meals at a homeless shelter, visit children in a hospital or place flags at a veteran’s cemetery. It’s also a great way to give back to your community.
  • Employee discounts – Even if you offer unpaid holidays, you can use discounts as a benefit option. For example, movie discounts allow employees to spend some time with their family during a holiday.
  • Employee choice holidays – If you offer only a couple of paid holidays or if you need to staff during those times, let employees choose which days they prefer working. Giving them the choice allows them to take more control over these days. Perhaps some wouldn’t mind working Thanksgiving and New Year’s if they could take July 4 and 5 off.

Not all businesses can offer paid holidays. But there are a number of lower-cost alternatives you can consider to fill out your leave package.