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12 5, 2012

With Christmas and New Year’s falling on Tuesdays in 2012-2013, the year-end holiday calendar will be much kinder to employees than in the previous two years, according to Bloomberg BNA’s survey of employers’ year-end holiday plans.

Following two straight years in which Dec. 25 and Jan. 1 fell on the weekend (Sundays in 2011-2012 and Saturdays in 2010-2011), this year’s calendar will yield an extra paid day off for many U.S. workers. Almost three-fifths of surveyed employers have scheduled at least three paid days off for the 2012-2013 holiday season, compared with about two out of five establishments responding for the 2011-2012 and 2010-2011 surveys. The survey also suggests some recovery in holiday gifts, bonuses, and
party-giving from levels observed around the end of the recession.

The survey, based on responses from 628 human resources professionals and executives representing a broad cross-section of U.S. employers, revealed the following:

Nearly six in 10 surveyed employers (58 percent) have scheduled at least three paid days off for the 2012-2013
holiday season,
up from 42 percent a year ago and 36 percent in 2010-2011, when the national holidays fell on the weekend.
Despite this year’s favorable calendar, roughly two in five establishments will award no more than an extra half-day with pay. Only a small minority of firms (5 percent) reported fewer than two paid year-end holidays.

A long Christmas weekend is on tap for many U.S. workers this year, as 51 percent of responding employers have slated Monday, Dec. 24, as a paid day off.

Some workers will have to postpone their holiday dinners and gatherings, as nearly four out of 10 surveyed establishments will require at least a few employees to work Dec. 25, Jan. 1, or both. Christmas work shifts have been scheduled by 34 percent of the employers, while a few more (38 percent) will have workers on duty for New Year’s Day.

Employees who work on the national holidays typically get something extra in their paychecks, leave balances, or both. Among those requiring holiday work in 2012-2013, well over half will award extra pay to those who toil either
Christmas or New Year’s Day. Forty-nine percent will pay time-and-one-half or double time, and 8 percent plan to give holiday workers a combination of additional pay and compensatory time off.

Holiday gifts and bonuses have seen some resurgence in the past several years. Forty-five percent of surveyed organizations will distribute gifts or bonuses to some or all employees in 2012-2013, virtually unchanged from a year ago (46
percent) but well above the record low of 33 percent in 2009, when the recession came to its official close. Management and non-management are equally likely to receive holiday cash or gifts from employers, and money still trumps merchandise as a year-end expression of company gratitude.

Gifts from clients and business associates are restricted or prohibited by the vast majority of U.S. employers. More than three out of four responding organizations (77 percent) impose formal rules on gift acceptance, including 25 percent that ban gifts entirely.

Holiday celebrations are on the slate at roughly three out of four surveyed organizations (74 percent), somewhat improved from 2009, when just 67 percent sponsored any late-year festivities. Companywide events are planned by more than half of the responding employers (55 percent), virtually unchanged from a year ago (56 percent) and up a bit from 2009 (50 percent).

Most employers will pay the entire cost of their companywide parties. Among employers sponsoring events for the entire workforce, 86 percent will foot the entire bill. Just a few companies (4 percent) will contribute a set amount and ask employees to pick up the rest. Nearly seven in 10 companywide parties (68 percent) will be held away from the worksite, and alcohol will be served at nearly two out of three events (63 percent).

Charitable activities around the holidays will be sponsored by more than three-fifths of surveyed employers (63
, most of which will participate in multiple programs and activities. Toy collections and food drives remain the
most common philanthropic endeavors.

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