Is it legal to take away holiday pay?

My husband has been working for an oil field company for about 5 years. They just announced this week that they will no longer pay “holiday pay”, 2.5 times normal pay on worked holidays. He is required to work either Christmas or Thanksgiving and I believe full staffed on New Years. Multiple holidays throughout the year have previously been viewed as holidays by the company and they are required to work/be on call. Is there anything we can do?

Asked on October 24, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, Oklahoma

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

The fact is that while it is common to pay a premium to an employee who works on a holiday, there is no legal requirement to do so. Further, absent some form of actionable discrimination or retalaiation, in "at will" employment arrangement, an employer can set the terms and conditons of the workplace mush as it sees fit; this includes eliminating holiday pay.So as long as this change in pay does not breach the terms of a union contract or employment agreement, it is perfectly permissable under the law.
Tha having been said, if an employee must be on-call outside of the work place, then they may have to be paid pay for that time. The test is whether the employee has constraints placed on them such that they have little/no control of their time. In other words, they cannot use such time for their own enjoyment/benefit. In such event, the employee should be paid. Generally, the more restrictions that are on an employee, the more likely it is that they should be paid. Further, under limited circumstances, such time might have to be paid as OT to the extent that it causes an employee to work more than 40 hours per week.
For furthe r information, you cancontact your state's department of labor or confer directly with a local employment law attorney.


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