Employers Less Generous with Time Off for Turkey Day

November 2, 2011 (PLANSPONSOR.com) – According to a recent BNA survey, for the second consecutive year, employers are less generous in providing their workers Thanksgiving holiday leave.  

The Annual survey of employers’ year-end holiday plans found that just over seven in 10 surveyed employers (72%) have designated both Thanksgiving Day (November 24) and the day after as paid holidays in 2011, down from the 74% and the 79% that did so in 2010 and 2009, respectively. As in previous years, nearly all surveyed employers (96%) have scheduled Thanksgiving Day as a paid holiday for employees.

Furthermore, the number of employers requiring some employees to work on Thanksgiving Day is at near record lows. This year, nearly three in 10 employers (29%) will require some employees to work on Thanksgiving Day. This percentage is identical to the proportion of employers mandating Thanksgiving Day work in 2010. However, over the past 18 years, employer requirements for Thanksgiving holiday work have declined significantly. In 2002, nearly half of all surveyed employers (47%) required at least some employees to work on this holiday.

The survey also found:  

  • Twelve percent of employers plan to give their workers a holiday gift this year, a figure that has remained stable for the past six years. While the incidence of Thanksgiving holiday gift giving has remained virtually unchanged over the past half decade, it is at historically low levels. At 12%, gift giving is down sharply from the 2004 high of 23% and the 15-18% range seen from 1995-2003.
  • Gift certificates are the Thanksgiving holiday gift of choice for employers, followed closely by the holiday turkey.
  • For six of the last seven years, gift certificates for food items have been the leading Thanksgiving gift. Six percent of surveyed employers will be giving employees gift certificates this Thanksgiving, with the traditional turkey in second place, offered by 3% of employers. 
  • Security/public safety and service/maintenance workers are among those most likely to be required to work on Thanksgiving Day.
  • Workers in manufacturing enterprises and smaller organizations are most likely to celebrate a four-day holiday weekend. Nine out of 10 manufacturers (90%) will give employees both Thanksgiving Day and the following Friday as paid holidays. This compares with seven in 10 employers in non-manufacturing (71%) and 63% in non-business concerns (such as hospitals, educational facilities, and government organizations).
  • A four-day holiday weekend will be much more prevalent in smaller organizations with fewer than 1,000 employees (78%) than in larger organizations with 1,000 employees or more (54%). 
  • Non-union establishments are somewhat more likely than their unionized counterparts (74% vs. 65%) to give their employees a four-day holiday weekend in 2011. 
  • Most employees who work on Thanksgiving Day can expect to receive additional compensation. Overtime pay (45%) in the form of either time-and-a-half (26%) or double-time pay (19%) is the most frequent form of compensation offered to those who work on Thanksgiving Day.


BNA's survey of the year-end holiday practices has been conducted since 1980. This year's report is based on responses from 390 human resources and employee relations executives representing a cross section of U.S. employers, both public. and private.