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Guess who’s not coming to Thanksgiving dinner?

It’s that time of year again; the holidays have come roaring back around with Christmas decorations being displayed everywhere you look reminding you to start your Christmas shopping soon.  My inbox has been flooded with “Black Friday” sale previews and sneak peeks for the last two weeks.  I used to go Black Friday shopping every year with my mom until I discovered that doing my Christmas shopping in my pajamas on Cyber Monday was much more satisfying.

In the last few years, retail stores have not only had Black Friday sales, but many have begun opening their doors on Thanksgiving Day in an effort to best their competition and hopefully increase their revenue.  While the increased shopping time may be well and good, what about the employees who have to work on Thanksgiving, don’t they have a right to spend the holiday with their loved ones?


Legally, the answer is no.  Employees working for a private employer (which most franchises are) do not have a right to paid time off for the holidays, even federal ones.  The employees are not entitled to extra pay for working holidays, unless it is provided for contractually.  However, standard overtime rules still apply and holiday shifts usually require longer hours which can lead to overtime pay for employees.

From an employee morale standpoint, the answer may be yes.  The old adage that a happy worker is a productive worker rings true and a recent study out of the University of Warwick confirmed this hypothesis.  Happy employees lead to loyal employees and greater employee retention, which can be one of the main issues franchises face.  According to Jim Tobias, a second-generation owner of 23 Lion’s Choice based out of St. Louis, in an article featured on, creating a culture of respect among managers and employees yields a better long-term return for franchises, as opposed to “squeeze[ing] out as much as you can out of an employee” in order to show good numbers each quarter.

Some retailers, such as Costco, have decided not to open their doors on Thanksgiving and have garnered praise from the public because of the policy.  Although employers who remain closed on Thanksgiving would not gain any revenue from sales for the day, what they gain from employee morale and public image may outweigh whatever increase to the bottom line they may have mustered.  Allowing employees to spend the holidays away from work, spending time with family or doing what they wish, would lead to a happier, more loyal, employee and a more productive workplace which certainly benefits the bottom line.