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Build Your Career Office Life

Happy Holiday? Thanksgiving Not a Day Off for All Workers

Happy Holiday? Thanksgiving Not a Day Off for All Workers
Credit: Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Rather than celebrating Thanksgiving with some turkey, family and football, Thursday will be just another day of work for many, new research finds.

This year, 36 percent of employers will require at least some employees to work on Thanksgiving, up from 33 percent in 2014, according to a study from Bloomberg BNA.

The number of organizations with some employees on the clock is actually far fewer than it used to be. The research shows that Thanksgiving work shifts consistently exceeded 40 percent from the mid-1990s through the early 2000s, topping out at 48 percent in 2000.

Specifically, security and public-safety workers, service and maintenance staff, and technicians are most likely to be working on this year's holiday.

"While 96 percent of employers will designate Thanksgiving a paid day off, a number of organizations will require at least some of their employees to work on the holiday," Robert Combs, Bloomberg BNA's manager of custom research, said in a statement. "The good news for workers who are required to spend the holiday away from friends and family is that most will be compensated in the form of extra pay, additional time off or both."

More than 80 percent of the employers surveyed will provide employees with extra compensation or time off. The research revealed that 32 percent will give Thanksgiving workers time-and-a-half pay, 24 percent will give double-time pay and 8 percent will give compensatory time off in addition to regular pay. In addition, 6 percent will give those working this year's holiday a combination of overtime and compensatory time off. [Erratic Work Schedules Killing Work-Life Balance ]

"And, as an added bonus, most of those workers won't have supervisors looking over their shoulder, as less than 10 percent of organizations have management staff scheduled for work shifts on Thanksgiving," Combs said.

Larger organizations are much more likely to have some employees on the clock this Thanksgiving. Two-thirds of companies with more than 1,000 workers have holiday work shifts scheduled this year, compared to just 20 percent of smaller businesses.

Regardless of whether they're making employees work on the holiday, many businesses will be saying "thanks" to their employees one way or another. More than one-quarter of the businesses surveyed have some type of employee gift planned for late November. Additionally, 16 percent of organizations will hold Thanksgiving luncheons or dinners, 7 percent will distribute gift certificates for food, with 4 percent sending workers home with a turkey.

Even for those not working, Thanksgiving won't necessarily be a day away from their colleagues. A new CareerBuilder study revealed that 20 percent of employees plan to celebrate Thanksgiving with co-workers.

Despite that, most employees would rather be spending time with loved ones. The CareerBuilder research shows that if they’d rather spend Thanksgiving Day with co-workers or family, 91 percent chose their family. However, nearly 10 percent would rather spend it with neither.

Bloomberg BNA has been tracking Thanksgiving employer practices since 1980. This year's survey is based on surveys of more than 350 senior human resource and employee relations executives representing a broad cross-section of U.S. employers. 

The CareerBuilder research was based on surveys of 3,602 full-time workers.

Chad  Brooks
Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.