As an employer in Wisconsin, it’s essential that you have a plan in place for how your business will operate on Wisconsin state holidays. This includes knowing whether you are required to close on state holidays, whether you must pay employees for holiday work, and whether you have to provide paid leave for state holidays.
This article will provide an overview of Wisconsin state holidays and the leave and labor laws that employers need to be aware of.
- Wisconsin Federal Holidays
- Federal Holidays that Wisconsin Does Not Observe
- Wisconsin State Holidays
- Leave and Labor Laws in Wisconsin
- How to Stay Compliant with Wisconsin State Holiday Requirements
- Manage Employee Time Off with Factorial
There are 11 federal holidays in the US. However, while most states including California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Georgia, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Hawaii, Rhode Island and Florida acknowledge the majority, if not all, federal holidays as state holidays, the federal government cannot force individual states to observe all national holidays.
Wisconsin is a perfect example of this. In fact, the state of Wisconsin only recognizes 9 legal holidays with pay for eligible employees, and two of these (Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve) are not federal holidays:
- New Year’s Day (January 1)
- Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday (third Monday in January)
- Memorial Day (last Monday in May)
- Independence Day (July 4)
- Labor Day (first Monday in September)
- Thanksgiving Day (fourth Thursday in November)
- Christmas Eve (December 24)
- Christmas Day (December 25)
- New Year’s Eve (December 31)
If a legal holiday falls on a Sunday, the holiday is observed and state offices are closed on the following Monday. Eligible employees are granted eight hours of floating legal holiday when a legal holiday falls on a Saturday or a Sunday and the following Monday is also a legal holiday.
Here are some additional things to know about Wisconsin state holidays:
- Most state offices and businesses are closed on legal holidays. However, some essential services, such as hospitals and law enforcement, remain open.
- Many schools and universities are also closed on legal holidays.
- Public transportation may be limited or suspended on legal holidays.
Let’s explore the federal holidays that are not included in the Wisconsin state holiday schedule and find out why the Badger state does not observe them.
Wisconsin is one of the few states that does not officially recognize Presidents’ Day as a legal holiday, even though it is a federal holiday. Instead, Wisconsin chooses to celebrate the birthdays of both George Washington and Abraham Lincoln separately. As a result, Presidents’ Day is often referred to as “Washington and Lincoln Day” in the state. This unique approach reflects the state’s distinct historical and cultural perspective on honoring the legacies of these two influential leaders in American history.
But that’s not the only reason why Presidents’ Day is not included in the official list of Wisconsin state holidays.
In fact, there are a few reasons why Wisconsin does not observe Presidents’ Day:
- Historically, Wisconsin has not had a strong tradition of celebrating Presidents’ Day. In the early 1900s, there were a few attempts to make Presidents’ Day a state holiday, but these efforts were unsuccessful.
- Some people in Wisconsin believe that Presidents’ Day is a commercial holiday that has lost its original meaning. They argue that the holiday is now more about shopping and spending money than it is about honoring presidents.
- Others believe that Wisconsin should focus on celebrating its own state holidays, such as Lincoln’s Birthday. They argue that Lincoln was a more important figure in Wisconsin history than many other presidents.
In 2009, the Wisconsin Legislature considered a bill to make Presidents’ Day a state holiday. However, the bill was defeated.
Despite not being an official state holiday, many businesses and organizations in Wisconsin still observe Presidents’ Day. Some schools also have Presidents’ Day off.
Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to observe Presidents’ Day is up to each individual or organization.
Veterans’ Day is another significant federal holiday that is not included in the list of Wisconsin state holidays. In fact, Wisconsin is the only state in the country that does not officially recognize Veterans Day as a legal holiday.
There are a few reasons for this:
- Historically, Wisconsin has had a strong tradition of celebrating Armistice Day, which was the predecessor to Veterans Day. Armistice Day was celebrated on November 11th to commemorate the end of World War I.
- In the 1950s, the federal government renamed Armistice Day to Veterans’ Day to honor all veterans of all wars. However, Wisconsin did not follow suit. Instead, Wisconsin continued to celebrate Armistice Day as a state holiday.
- In the 1980s, there were a few attempts to make Veterans Day a state holiday in Wisconsin. However, these efforts were unsuccessful. Some people in Wisconsin argued that Veterans Day was already being honored on Armistice Day, and that there was no need for another holiday.
In recent years, there has been renewed interest in making Veterans’ Day a state holiday in Wisconsin. In 2022, the Wisconsin Senate passed a bill to make Veterans’ Day a state holiday, but the bill has not yet been passed by the Wisconsin Assembly.
If Veterans’ Day were to become a state holiday in Wisconsin, it would mean that state offices and schools would be closed on that day. It would also mean that employees of state agencies would be paid for the day off.
Juneteenth is a holiday that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. It is celebrated on June 19th, the day in 1865 when the news of the Emancipation Proclamation reached Galveston, Texas.
Juneteenth is a relatively new federal holiday, after President Biden signed it into law in 2021. It is a time to celebrate the freedom and resilience of Black Americans, to reflect on the history of slavery and its legacy, and to educate others about the importance of racial justice. However, not all states officially recognize Juneteenth as a legal holiday, including Wisconsin.
Nonetheless, there is growing support for making Juneteenth a Wisconsin state holiday. In 2022, the Wisconsin Legislature passed a joint resolution recognizing Juneteenth as a day of observance. However, the Legislature did not pass a bill to make Juneteenth a legal holiday.
Despite not being a state holiday, many communities across Wisconsin celebrate Juneteenth. For example, in Milwaukee, the city government has hosted a Juneteenth celebration for over 30 years. The celebration includes a parade, festival, and educational events.
Other cities and counties in Wisconsin that observe Juneteenth include Madison, Racine, Kenosha, and Dane County.
In this next section, we are going to explore the Wisconsin state holidays that are not included in the official list of US federal holidays.
Christmas Eve is not a federal holiday. However, it is a partial day off in states like Kansas, North Dakota, and Virginia. It is also a state holiday in Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin. As a result, employers in Wisconsin must give eligible state employees time off with holiday pay on Christmas Eve. Employers can choose to close their businesses on Christmas Eve, or they can offer employees reduced hours. If state employees work on Christmas Eve, their employer must offer them holiday pay.
Private employers in Wisconsin do not have to give employees time off on Christmas Eve, but many do. Private employers also do not have to offer employees holiday pay for working on Christmas Eve, but some do.
Here are some tips for employers in Wisconsin who are preparing for Christmas Eve:
- Communicate your holiday policy to employees in advance. This will help employees to plan their schedules accordingly.
- If you are closing your business on Christmas Eve, notify employees as soon as possible.
- If you require employees to work on Christmas Eve, offer them holiday pay. This will show your employees that you appreciate their hard work and dedication.
- Be flexible with employees’ schedules on Christmas Eve. Some employees may need to leave early to attend church services or spend time with their families.
New Year’s Eve
New Year’s Eve is not a federal holiday, but it is a state holiday in Wisconsin. This means that state employees in Wisconsin have the right to time off with holiday pay on New Year’s Eve. Private employers in Wisconsin do not have to give employees time off on New Year’s Eve, but many do. Private employers also do not have to offer holiday pay to employees for working on New Year’s Eve, but some choose to do so.
Wisconsin Holidays 2024
Not all federal holidays are included in the Wisconsin state holiday schedule. Let’s explore the holidays that are observed in Wisconsin and which holidays aren’t.
Federal holidays observed in Wisconsin 2024:
- New Year’s Day (Monday, January 1, 2024)
- Martin Luther King’s Birthday (Monday, January 15, 2024)
- Memorial Day (Monday, May 27, 2024)
- Independence Day (Thursday, July 4,2024)
- Labor Day (Monday, September 2, 2024)
- Columbus Day (Monday, October 14, 2024)
- Thanksgiving Day (Thursday, November 28, 2024)
- Christmas Day (Wednesday, December 25, 2024)
Wisconsin state holidays 2024:
- Christmas Eve (Tuesday, December 24, 2024)
- New Year’s Eve (Sunday, December 31, 2024)
Federal holidays not observed in Wisconsin 2024:
- President’s Day (Monday, February 19, 2024)
- Veterans’ Day (Monday, November 11, 2024)
- Juneteenth (Wednesday, June 19, 2024) (except a few counties)
Wisconsin has a number of leave and labor laws that employers need to be aware of. These laws cover a variety of topics, including paid time off, overtime pay, and minimum wage.
Here’s everything you need to know.
Holiday Pay for Wisconsin State Holidays
According to state law, public employers in Wisconsin must provide paid leave to employees on state holidays. This means that state employees must receive their regular pay for state holidays, even if they do not work on those days. The only exception to this is if the employee is on unpaid leave or taking a leave of absence.
Private employers in Wisconsin do not have to provide paid time off to employees on state holidays. However, many private employers do offer paid leave to employees on state holidays, either as a matter of policy or as part of a collective bargaining agreement.
Wisconsin does not have a state law that requires employers to provide vacation leave to their employees. However, some cities and counties in Wisconsin have passed local laws that require employers to provide paid vacation leave to their employees. For example, the Milwaukee Vacation Leave Ordinance requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide paid vacation leave to their employees. Under the ordinance, employees can earn at least 1 hour of paid vacation leave for every 30 hours worked. Employees can earn up to 40 hours of paid vacation leave per year.
Even if an employer does not legally have to provide vacation leave to their employees, many employers do so as a matter of policy. Many private employers also offer additional leave benefits including unpaid time off, unlimited PTO, personal time off, floating holidays, VTO, and flexible time off. Employers in Wisconsin are also generally free to design their own vacation accrual, vacation payout, and PTO carry-over systems.
Employers who choose to provide vacation leave to their employees should establish a policy that clearly states how employees can accrue and use their vacation leave. They must apply this policy fairly and consistently.
Wisconsin does not have a statewide paid sick leave law. However, some cities and counties in Wisconsin have passed local paid sick leave laws.
- Milwaukee. Employees in Milwaukee can earn up to 72 hours of paid sick leave per year. Employers with 15 or more employees must provide paid sick leave.
- Dane County. Employees in Dane County can earn up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per year. Employers with 50 or more employees must provide paid sick leave.
- Madison. Employees in Madison can earn up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per year. Employers with 10 or more employees must provide paid sick leave.
- Racine. Employees in Racine can earn up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per year. Employers with 15 or more employees must provide paid sick leave.
Employers in Wisconsin should check their local laws to see if they must provide paid sick leave to employees.
Family and Medical Leave
Wisconsin has a paid family and medical leave law (PFML) that allows eligible employees to take up to six weeks of unpaid leave per year. This can be for a serious health condition, the birth or adoption of a child (parental leave), or to care for a family member with a serious health condition.
To be eligible for PFML, employees must:
- Have worked for an eligible employer for at least 12 months.
- Have earned at least $2,500 in wages in the previous year.
- Be in employment at the time that they request leave.
Employees who are eligible for PFML can receive up to 60% of their weekly wages, up to a maximum weekly benefit of $850. They can also receive up to 60% of their weekly wages for up to 12 weeks of leave for the birth or adoption of a child.
Employees who are requesting PFML must provide their employer with a written notice of their intent to take leave. The notice must be provided as soon as practicable, but no later than 30 days before the start of the leave.
Employees who take PFML must return to work within 6 months of the start of their leave. If an employee is unable to return to work within 6 months, the employee may be eligible for an extension of leave.
Employers must keep employees’ jobs open while they are on PFML. Employers must also provide employees with continued health insurance coverage during their leave.
The minimum wage in Wisconsin is $7.25 per hour. The minimum wage for tipped employees is $2.33 per hour, but employers must supplement their hourly wage to $7.25 per hour if their tips do not bring their total earnings up to that level.
There is a proposed bill in the Wisconsin legislature that would increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025. However, the bill has not yet passed.
Wisconsin overtime law is based on the federal overtime law, but it has some additional provisions.
- Daily overtime pay. Wisconsin law requires employers to pay overtime pay for hours worked in excess of eight hours per day, regardless of the total number of hours worked in the week. This provision applies to all non-exempt employees, including agricultural workers and retail workers.
- Preemption of local ordinances. Wisconsin law preempts local ordinances that establish higher minimum wage or overtime pay rates. This means that employers in Wisconsin only need to comply with the state overtime law, even if there is a local ordinance that requires higher overtime pay rates.
- Compensatory time. Wisconsin law allows employers to offer compensatory time off (CTO) to employees in lieu of overtime pay. However, employees must agree to receive CTO in writing in advance. Employers must also allow employees to use their CTO within 90 days of earning it.
In addition to these provisions, the Wisconsin overtime law also includes a number of exemptions that are similar to the exemptions in the federal overtime law. For example, you do not have to offer overtime pay to employees who are exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), such as executives, administrators, and professionals. You also don’t have to offer overtime pay to certain agricultural workers and retail workers.
Meal and Rest Breaks
Wisconsin law does not require employers to provide meal or rest breaks to adult employees. However, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development recommends that employers provide breaks of at least 30 minutes in duration at times reasonably close to the usual meal period.
Employers must provide meal breaks to employees under the age of 18 who work shifts longer than six hours. Meal periods provided to minors must be at least 30 minutes in length and reasonably close to usual meal times. Minors cannot work for more than six consecutive hours without a meal break.
To stay compliant with Wisconsin state holiday requirements, businesses need to ensure that they pay their employees correctly for holidays. This can be a complex task, especially for businesses with large numbers of employees.
Factorial’s leave management system allows businesses to:
- Set up holiday policies. Businesses can set up holiday policies in Factorial. This includes which holidays you pay and how you calculate holiday pay.
- Track employee leave. Factorial tracks employee leave balances for all types of time off requests, including holidays.
- Process leave requests. Factorial allows employees to submit leave requests electronically. Managers can then approve or deny requests directly in the system.
- Calculate holiday pay. Factorial automatically calculates holiday pay for employees, based on their holiday policy and leave balances.
- Generate reports. Factorial generates reports on employee leave, including holiday pay, so businesses can track their compliance with state and federal laws.
By using Factorial, businesses can stay compliant with Wisconsin state holiday requirements and save time and money on leave administration.