General Business

Ask the Experts: Holidays Off, Decreasing Hours & New Handbooks

What should we do when one of our designated paid holidays falls on a weekend when we aren’t open? Do we need to offer an alternative day off?

No, you don’t need to offer an alternative day off. There are no federal laws requiring private employers to provide paid time off for holidays.

However, there are potential benefits to offering an alternative day off:

  • It can boost employee morale. Employees won’t feel that they “lost” a day off – and three-day weekends are always appreciated!
  • It may save you from having to process a host of time-off requests
    for weekdays around that holiday.
  • It communicates your commitment to work-life balance, an important factor for engagement and retention.

Can we decrease the number of hours employees work?

Yes. Absent an employment contract or other legally binding agreement, you can reduce an employee’s work hours – there is no law that prevents this. Hours are typically reduced for reasons such as a decrease in business needs, the company’s productivity has decreased, job restructuring, or reorganization.

It’s important, however, to make scheduling decisions in a manner that is consistent with legitimate business needs and to ensure that you’re being consistent in how you treat employees. Reducing an employee’s work schedule can expose you to legal claims if it is perceived to be based on an unlawful reason such as discrimination or retaliation. And of course, there’s also the risk that the affected employee may decide to look for work elsewhere.

We recently made a couple of small updates to our employee handbook. Do we need to have employees sign a new handbook for each update?

No. For small, minor updates, you don’t need employees to sign off, especially if you simply made an administrative change like updating the name of your employee assistance program provider, correcting a typo, or adding a clarifying statement. A simple communication to all employees to let them know that the change has been made, why, and where to find the change should suffice as notice.

Larger changes, like a brand-new policy or an update with essential changes, would warrant a new employee signature, especially if they could be disciplined for violating the new or updated policy. If you need to discipline an employee related to the new policy or update, their signature will help show that they were made aware of the change.

HR Professionals from NJBIA assist clients with their HR questions and issues every day. Need help from our HR Pros?

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