Paid Holidays in Arkansas (2024 Guide for Employers)

For a business owner operating in Arkansas, having to manage holiday leave on top of the typical workplace concerns involving time tracking, scheduling, and payroll, might seem like a pain worth avoiding. However, the simple fact of the matter is that understanding and making use of paid holidays can be key to improving your business’s operations.

In this post, we’re going to outline everything an Arkansas business owner needs to know about paid holidays, from what they are, to why they’re important, to what you can do to make them easy to manage.

What is a Paid Holiday?

A paid holiday is a religious, state, or national holiday that Arkansas employers have the eligibility to grant to their employees. If given, employees will have a day off and still earn a full day’s worth of wages. The U.S. Department of Labor does not require employers to offer any paid holidays. It isn’t outlined by federal law, nor is it stated in the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) that employers have to do so. Despite this, many private business owners choose to offer paid holidays anyway.

Paid holidays are a quick way to make your benefits package more attractive when you’re looking to onboard high-quality talent. Competent workers that can take your business to the next level tend to understand the value they bring and want to feel appreciated where they work. Offering such workers time off throughout the year is one way you can recognize their contributions to your business operations.

Who do Paid Holidays apply to?

As we noted above, the FMLA does not require employers to provide paid holidays. However, that’s only the case for private employers. Public employers do have to grant their staff those days off. The U.S. Department of Labor identifies public/state employees as anyone that works for the United States Government, directly for a state, the District of Colombia, a territory or possession of the United States, a city, a municipality, a township, a county, a parish, or a similar government.

That said, private employers that choose to offer paid holiday leave (through their PTO policy, employment contract, or some other written document) are held to the guidelines they outline. Violating a signed agreement is punishable by Arkansas state law.

Federal Holidays

The list of all federal holidays to be observed throughout the 2024 calendar year (regardless of what state you’re in) and the date they fall on is as follows:

  • New Year’s Day (Monday, January 1)
  • Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day / Robert E. Lee’s Birthday / Civil Rights Day (Monday, January 15)
  • George Washington’s Birthday / President’s Day / Daisy Gatson Bates Day (Monday, February 19)
  • Memorial Day (Monday, May 27 – last Monday in May)
  • Juneteenth National Independence Day (Wednesday, June 19)
  • Independence Day (Thursday, July 4)
  • Labor Day (Monday, September 2)
  • Columbus Day (Monday, October 14)
  • Veterans Day (Monday, November 11)
  • Thanksgiving Day (Thursday, November 28 – 4th Thursday of November)
  • Christmas Day (Wednesday, December 25)

It’s worth noting how some states change the official names of some of these holidays. For example, Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday is also known as Robert E. Lee’s Birthday in areas of Arkansas.

There are a few blanket rules that apply for all official holidays. For example, for any legal holiday that happens to fall on a Saturday, federal employees are given the preceding Friday before the holiday off. If a federal holiday happens to land on a Sunday, employees get a day off the following Monday.

Holidays Specific to the State of Arkansas

There are only a few Arkansas State Holidays to mark on your holiday schedule, though one varies wildly:

  • Christmas Eve (Tuesday, December 24)
  • Employee’s Birthday (Employees may take their birthdays off)

Additionally, state offices in Pulaski County, Arkansas, are required to remain open if a legal holiday occurs during a general or special session of the legislature, with the exception of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. These offices are required to maintain the minimum number of employees required to conduct state business on those days, but they may be granted permission to close by Resolution of the General Assembly (source).

Impact of Common Arkansas Leave Laws

While we’re observing the overall impact of paid holidays on work hours, let’s take a look at Arkansas’s Labor Laws.

Sick Time

For private employers, there are no laws that dictate you have to provide sick leave, nor any rules that determine how that sick leave is meant to accrue. However, you are held to whatever rules you establish in your company’s written policy by employment law.

Vacation Leave and Holiday Time

Arkansas employers are not required to provide either paid or unpaid holiday leave.

In the case of public employees, they are entitled to paid days off on legal holidays, and to receive premium holiday pay which is one and a half times their regular rate of pay. Regular salaried employees, as well as extra help employees, are eligible to receive holiday if they work their last scheduled work day before the holiday and at least one hour on their first scheduled work day after the holiday. An employee who is required to work on a legal holiday shall be entitled to equivalent time off on another date.

Parental Leave

Arkansas employers must comply with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and allow eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of leave for bonding with a new child. In the case of public employees, Arkansas expanded offerings for paid family leave via SB 111, which amended Arkansas Code Ann. 23-62-112.

Bereavement Leave

There is no federal or Arkansas law that requires business owners to provide bereavement leave, not even in the case of a death of a friend or family member.

Jury Duty

Employers are required to allow employees time off for any time relating to being selected for or serving on jury duty. However, employers do not have to compensate for this time spent on jury duty with wages of any sort, unless they agree to do so in their employee contract. Additionally, Arkansas Law prevents an employee from being terminated while serving on a jury.


Employers are required to schedule sufficient time on election days so that employees can vote, but this time varies by location across the state of Arkansas.

Overtime Pay

Full-time employees working in excess of 40 hours per workweek are entitled to overtime pay, earned at a rate of 1.5 times the regular rate of pay.

Read our guide here for a more comprehensive look at how Arkansas Law affects your workplace.

The Benefits of Paid Holidays

With so many particulars involved in offering paid holidays, you may be surprised that business owners would bother with them at all. But the reason for that is simple enough: savvy business owners realized the benefits outweighed any potential downsides. Here are a few of the positives business owners gain by offering paid holidays:

#1 – Paid Holidays Attract High-Quality Workers

Modern employees are more aware than ever of the importance of managing their mental and physical health in the workplace. Part of this means that high-quality employees, the ones that have their pick of where they’ll eventually work, are able to choose places that are the most generous with benefits such as holiday leave and PTO accrual.

Which is why many businesses choose to offer these paid days to entice these workers.

#2 – Paid Holidays Boost Company Morale

Allowing your team members time off means they have time to unwind from work. Beyond the mental and physical health benefit we touched on above, this also means they get to come back into work rejuvenated and ready to accomplish tasks. Have a team filled with stable, energetic worker creates a positive environment that feeds on itself, improving morale across the board.

This effect can also work in the reverse. If your team members are stressed and overworked, it can easily corrode the work environment and create a toxic domino effect that you’ll want to stop. According to a Pew Research Center survey, 35% of quitting workers cited a lack of good benefits such as health insurance and PTO.

#3 – Paid Holidays Save Companies Money.

This bonus may seem surprising, but it makes sense if you look at the long-term impact of paid vacation days. As we noted, stress, overwork, and a lack of vacation days can lead to an employee quitting. You may think that’s standard, and that no employee works forever, but stats show that replacing an employee can cost six to nine months of an employee’s salary (estimate provided by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

With that in mind, it makes financial sense to do what you can to improve employee retention. Offering paid holidays is an easily accomplished part of that.

Tracking Paid Holidays and Employee Leave with Buddy Punch

Outlining the importance and benefits of monitoring employee leave doesn’t make it any easier for you to do. Thankfully, employee management software does. Using a tool like our very own Buddy Punch, you can take advantage of a full Paid Time Off Management functionality to easily monitor all types of paid leave.

Sick Time, Holiday days, and even custom PTO types are easily handled with Buddy Punch. Our system also has built-in notifications to alert you when a team member sends in a leave request, so you or your administrators can quickly approve or deny. Alternatively, you can enable the self-service approach for trusted team members and allow their leave requests to be automatically approved.

PTO management is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Buddy Punch’s options. Our tool has automatic time tracking, employee scheduling, and Built-In Payroll, making it a viable all-in-one software for any business owner. Click here to learn more about our tool.

Paid Holidays, though optional, are a key component of optimizing your business. Like an effective management software, we believe that they’re a tool that a business owner can use to greatly improve their operations and productivity. This guide should enable you to do just that.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

So, offering PTO of any kind is optional in Arkansas?

Yes, if you’re a private business. If you’re a public employer working for the state in some capacity, you’re bound by federal law to offer the annual leave types we listed.

Do Arkansas employers have to pay out unused PTO in case of termination?

There is no specific law in Arkansas that requires employers to pay out unused PTO when they leave a company due to termination for any reason. However, if an employer takes it upon themselves to include measures in the employment contract or PTO policy, they must adhere to it.

Do employers tend to offer employees all 11 paid federal holidays?

According to a survey conducted by Zippia, the average U.S. employees receive 7.6 paid holidays. The two most common paid holidays are Thanksgiving and Christmas, while President’s Day and New Year’s Eve are the two least common.

How much is Holiday Pay?

Holiday pay is equal to an employee’s basic rate of pay.

How much is the minimum wage in Arkansas?

As of January 1, 2021, the minimum wage is Arkansas is 11.00 per hour, which is higher than the federal minimum wage.

Official State Resources

Disclaimer: Not Legal Advice

This blog post provides a general overview of Arkansas Holiday & Paid Leave Laws but does not constitute legal advice. Laws and regulations are subject to change, and there may be additional requirements or exemptions that apply to specific situations. Employers and employees should consult a qualified labor law attorney for advice on their specific circumstances.

If you have any questions about your rights or obligations as an employer or employee in Arkansas, it is essential to consult with a labor law attorney to receive accurate information and guidance tailored to your situation. By seeking professional legal advice, you can ensure that you are taking the appropriate steps to comply with labor laws and protect your rights.

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