Does an employer need to increase the amount of paid time off days allotted for an observant Jew who needs more days for holidays?

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Does an employer need to increase the amount of paid time off days allotted for an observant Jew who needs more days for holidays?

I am only given 8 PTO days for the
entire year. This includes sick days,
vacation days, holidays, etc. This year
alone there are approximately 15 days
that I am unable to work due to Jewish
holidays. I asked if I can get a few
extra days but was told I couldn’t.

Asked on October 21, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

No, an employer is under no obligation whatsoever to give you additional paid time off for the Jewish holidays. An employer must only make "reasonable accommodations" to religious observance, such as allowing an employee to swap one day off for another (e.g. giving up a Sunday off for a Saturday off, or vice versa), so he or she can go to temple or church, etc. But it is *not* reasonable to pay an employee for, say, 7 days extra days of NOT working: i.e. it's unreasonable to require the employer to give you an extra week of paid time off. You can ask if you can take unpaid days for the additional holiday days--your employer may be required to let you take a day without pay for religious observerances. (Why should your employer, and not you, bear the price or cost of your religioius observances; it is much more reasonable to let you take unpaid time for religious holidays, than to require the employer to pay you without working.)


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