37 Percent of Employers to Require Thanksgiving Work

Arlington, Va. — Nov. 22

Employers’ leave schedules at Thanksgiving will be tempered by their operational requirements, according to Bloomberg BNA’s 2013 Thanksgiving Holiday Practices Survey. While more than seven out of 10 surveyed employers have scheduled paid days off for both Thanksgiving Day and the following Friday in 2013, almost two-fifths of all responding organizations will require at least some employees to work on the national holiday.

“Even for the 97 percent of employers who designate Thanksgiving as a paid day off, a significant portion plan to keep some lights on in the workplace requiring at least a few to work on the holiday,” said Matt Sottong, director of surveys and research reports for Bloomberg BNA. “Still, workers who must miss or delay Thanksgiving dinner typically are rewarded, as most survey respondents reported that their employees will receive extra compensation — overtime, compensatory time off, or both — for working holiday shifts.”

Among the survey highlights:

Employees in manufacturing again will enjoy more liberal Thanksgiving schedules than their counterparts in other industry sectors. Nearly nine out of 10 surveyed manufacturers (87 percent) have designated both Thursday, Nov. 28, and Friday, Nov. 29, as paid days off this year, compared with roughly seven in 10 nonmanufacturing businesses (71 percent) and less than two-thirds of responding nonbusiness establishments (63 percent), such as health care facilities, government agencies and educational institutions.

Workers’ odds of a four-day Thanksgiving weekend remain more favorable in smaller shops. More than three-quarters of organizations with fewer than 1,000 workers (77 percent) have slated paid holidays for both Thanksgiving Day and the following Friday this year, while just over three-fifths of larger employers (62 percent) will be so generous. In addition, Thanksgiving work shifts are planned by barely one-fifth of smaller firms (21 percent), compared with two-thirds of establishments with at least 1,000 employees (67 percent).

Thanksgiving work requirements have been somewhat more prevalent over the past two years than in the previous three, but holiday shifts were more common a decade ago. Thirty-seven percent of responding employers will require at least a few employees to work on Thanksgiving Day this year, about the same proportion as in 2012 (36 percent) and somewhat higher than in the previous three years (29 percent in 2011 and 2010; 28 percent in 2009). Reports of Thanksgiving work shifts consistently exceeded 40 percent from the mid-1990s through the early 2000s, reaching 48 percent in 2000 and 47 percent in 2002.

Workers in health care facilities, municipalities, and other nonbusiness establishments are far more likely to draw Thanksgiving shifts than their counterparts in other industry sectors. More than three-fifths of responding nonbusiness organizations (62 percent) will have at least a few employees on the job on Nov. 28, compared with barely a quarter of both manufacturers (27 percent) and nonmanufacturing businesses (26 percent). Health care facilities will require nurses and physicians to be at work, as well as admissions and housekeeping staff. State, county and city governments must have firefighters, police officers and dispatchers on duty.

Hospitals, retailers, and customer service centers might be fully staffed on Thanksgiving Day, but other work requirements appear aimed at ensuring a minimum level of security, safety or maintenance. Only one in 10 surveyed employers will have any professional staff on the job and even fewer (6 percent) will require any production employees to report to work on Thanksgiving. Security and public safety workers (19 percent), service and maintenance staff (18 percent), and technicians (15 percent) are more likely to draw holiday shifts.

Employees who draw Thanksgiving shifts usually get something extra in their paychecks, leave balances or both. Among 181 surveyed employers imposing Thanksgiving duty this year, only 11 percent will exclusively provide regular compensation for toiling on the national holiday, and just 4 percent will offer only compensatory time off in addition to the employees’ regular pay. Employees at well over half of the surveyed establishments will receive time-and-a-half (24 percent), double-time (23 percent), or a combination of overtime and compensatory time off (8 percent) for working the holiday. Most of those indicating “other” holiday compensation policies (8 percent) also reported generous remuneration.

Thanksgiving gifts — turkeys, luncheons, gift certificates for food — remain a tradition at a small minority of employers. With 13 percent of all responding organizations having some type of employee gift planned for late November, little changed from percentages recorded over the previous eight years (11 to 14 percent from 2005 to 2012). Seven percent of firms will distribute gift certificates for food, while about half as many (4 percent) will send workers home with an actual turkey. A few (1 percent) will hold Thanksgiving luncheons or dinners.

Tokens of appreciation are on the November docket at three out of 10 manufacturing companies, compared with 10 percent of nonmanufacturing firms and just 5 percent of responding nonbusiness organizations.

Source: Bloomberg BNA