Last week we discussed the basic framework for providing employees with days off during recognized religious holidays. A related issue commonly presented during the holiday season is whether employees must be paid for their time off.
While an employer may have to give an employee time off in order to observe a religious holiday in accordance with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the “reasonable accommodation” does not have to be accompanied by pay. Although it may not be a popular decision, denying paid time off is perfectly acceptable when it comes to non-exempt (hourly) employees. Generally speaking, an employer is only required to pay hourly employees for time actually worked. For exempt employees (generally, salaried) who are given time off, the full weekly salary must be paid if they worked hours during the week in which the holiday falls. As always, a contract or collective bargaining agreement can create an affirmative obligation to provide paid time off.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, private employers or employees engaging in work with the federal government should be conscious of two possible exceptions to their paid time off rules. The federal government provides its employees with paid time off on several recognized holidays and, in addition, often provides overtime pay to those employees who must work during the holidays. Although this is not legally mandated for private employers, persons who work under a government service contract subject to the McNamara O’Hara Service Contract Act and persons who work under a government labor contract subject to the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts must receive holiday and vacation benefits. The exact terms of these benefits depend on worker classification and contract.
Always remember, offering paid time off around the holidays is a gesture of good will. Regardless of an employer’s legal obligations, offering paid time off can go a long way in making the holidays a happier time for employees.
On December 6, 2013, the Supreme Court agreed to consider Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International, a case concerning the patent eligibility of computer-implemented inventions. The Court will review a split decision issued by the en banc Federal Circuit in May 2013. In that decision, seven of 10 judges concluded Alice Corporation’s claims to computer-based methods for minimizing settlement risk in financial transactions, as well as claims to computer-readable media containing program code for performing such methods, constituted patent-ineligible subject matter under § 101. The judges split evenly, however, regarding the patent eligibility of Alice’s remaining claims to computerized systems for performing such transactions. Given the stark differences of opinion expressed by members of the Federal Circuit, it was widely predicted that the Supreme Court would step in to settle the dispute. The Court’s decision could have significant implications for the computer hardware and software industries, as well as for patent eligibility standards in general.
The Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments in early 2014, and a decision is expected by the end of the term in June 2014. The case number is 13-298.