Long Thanksgiving Weekend Remains Employer Tradition

November 13, 2012 (PLANSPONSOR.com) The four-day Thanksgiving weekend remains a tradition among most U.S. employers.

According to the latest Bloomberg BNA survey of year-end holiday practices, nearly three out of four responding employers (73%) have scheduled both Thanksgiving Day and the Friday after as paid days off for all or most of the workforce this year, virtually unchanged from 2011 (72%) and 2010 (74%). 

While nearly all employers (99%) have scheduled a paid day off for Thanksgiving Day, some workers will have to forego or postpone holiday dinners with family and friends. This year, 36% of establishments will require at least some of their employees to work on the national holiday, a moderate increase in reported work requirements from the previous three years.  

Eleven percent of the surveyed employers plan to bestow a Thanksgiving gift on their workers, as the proportion has been essentially unmoved since 2005 (11% or 12% in each year since). Thanksgiving gifts peaked in 2004 (23%) and typically ran at 15% or more in the decade before.

Manufacturers remain most generous with paid time off at Thanksgiving. More than nine out of 10 manufacturing companies (93%) have scheduled paid days off for both Thursday and Friday. A four-day weekend is on tap at nearly seven in 10 surveyed nonmanufacturing companies (69%) and roughly two-thirds of non-business establishments (65%), including health care facilities and government agencies.  

Workers in small companies stand a much better chance of a long Thanksgiving weekend than their colleagues in larger organizations. Two paid days off for Thanksgiving have been scheduled by more than four out of five firms with fewer than 1,000 employees (81%) and by less than three-fifths of larger organizations (56%).  

Skeleton crews and partial operations appear to be the prevailing practice among employers that will not shut down completely on November 22. Five percent of responding employers will have production staff on hand for Thanksgiving, and 9% will require some professional staff to be on site. In contrast, 16% reported that security or public safety employees must work on the holiday, 15% have scheduled Thanksgiving shifts for service or maintenance employees, and 13% will require technicians to work.  

Most workers who must miss or postpone their Thanksgiving dinners can expect something extra in their paychecks. Only 9% of firms imposing Thanksgiving shifts this year will pay workers only straight time for working on the holiday, with no extra pay or compensatory time off. Conversely, more than half of the establishments expecting holiday work will provide overtime pay, including 22% that will pay double-time to workers who pull Thanksgiving shifts.  

A report of survey results is here.