Is Having to Work on New Year’s Eve Normal? (Answered)

New Year’s Eve is a special day for many people worldwide to celebrate the year’s conclusion. This is a day set aside for individuals to wrap up the year and enjoy completing another year. About half make resolutions, too. But some wonder if having to work on New Year’s Eve is normal?

Having to work on New Year’s Eve is normal for most all jobs and professions in the US. Though teachers commonly have the time off due to schools being closed for winter holidays, most everyone else, with few exceptions, work New Year’s Eve, including federal employees who have New Year’s Day off.

As a veteran teacher, I was used to having New Year’s Eve off, but I know for most, the day is still a work day. I’ll share with you what I’ve learned about who’s having to work on this somewhat holiday, as well as some other related New Year’s Eve information.


New Year’s Eve and Day Celebrations- An Overview

New Year’s Eve is an important day for many individuals who are coming off of Christmas celebrations and ready to move into New Year’s Day festivities.

As well, for Catholics, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are part of the 12 days of Christmas as we don’t conclude Christmas until after Epiphany, January 6th.

New Year’s Day is a holiday for most people too, so having New Year’s Eve to prep for parties and other celebrations is necessary. Considering federal employees and most others are off January 1st, it makes sense to think you’d be off Dec. 31st.

The original New Year’s celebration happened in Spring.

On New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, people often make resolutions; start new practices and hobbies for healthier living; get together with family and close friends; and/or attend lavish parties to toast the new year in.

It also serves as a day to appreciate people who have been with you throughout the year. Your family and friends who have supported you through thick and thin gather together to celebrate this day with joy and laughter while reminiscing over the year’s events.

New Year’s Eve has been popular for parties and celebrations for years. In fact, the earliest recording is as far back as 2000 BCE!

Some New Year’s Eve food customs:

  • In Spain it’s customary to eat 12 grapes in the seconds just before midnight (one for each month).
  • Greeks eat a ring-shaped cake with coins inside.
  • The Chinese eat dumplings.
  • In Japan they eat long buckwheat noodles.
  • And southerners in the US eat black-eyed peas.

Working on New Year’s Eve

Working on New Year’s Eve is not unusual. Varied occupations have different needs, and although some will allow you a day off to celebrate with your loved ones, others will demand you work as usual. Jobs like firefighters, police officers, and hospital employees always have shifts working holidays.

Attending to New Year’s Eve tasks is reasonably common for critical personnel such as those in the healthcare industry. This ensures that individuals receive the necessary health services and have appropriately cared for those in urgent circumstances.

Other jobs, such as banking, which aren’t supposed to provide emergency services, usually grant a day off. However, they’ll still have some employees working as they don’t typically take the whole day off for New Year’s Eve, though they are usually closed for New Year’s Day.

Public transportation services will still run on New Year’s Eve, typically ‘as scheduled’, with normal hours. However, they’ll usually modify their runs for New Year’s Day.

Keep in mind that the federal government, however, does not recognize New Year’s Eve as a national holiday, so often federal employees will work a normal day on New Year’s Eve, knowing they’ll have the next day off (New Year’s Day).

Some organizations, this day marks the beginning of a prosperous period for their operations, necessitating the participation of all hands on deck. Working at an eatery, a restaurant, or a hotel or entertainment area on New Year’s Eve is usually expected.

Retail particularly is busy on New Year’s Eve and will schedule as many employees available to work the day. Given that many are ‘off’, the shops tend to be busy, too.

These establishments are frequently packed to the gills during these periods, and all employees are expected to work even more complex and for longer hours than usual.

People enjoy spending New Year’s Eve partying and having a good time. Working on New Year’s Eve is pretty usual if you work in one of these places, too. And you should brace yourself for a difficult task ahead if that’s your place of employment, because the places will be flooded with lots.

Other entertainment venues will be busy on New Year’s Eve, especially movie theaters. There are typically new releases all through the holidays including New Year’s so that brings people in and causes a demand for working in those venues on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

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To summarize, certain jobs are prone to work on all holidays. Jobs that are essential for people’s immediate well-being like being a police officer, doctor, nurse, or fire fighter have expectations for working.

Now, this isn’t to say that you’ll work every holiday (or ‘pre holiday’). Generally, you’ll alternate working one holiday and off the next. Also, as you rise in seniority, you’re likely to have holidays off, if you choose.

Is New Year’s Eve A Holiday?

According to the US government, the last day of the calendar year should be spent becoming a valuable member of society. This means, it’s not a holiday by official standards! Although New Year’s Day is a federal holiday, New Year’s Eve is not.

As a result, on December 31, all national government offices will be open, providing it falls during a regularly scheduled federal work day (Monday-Friday).

Some states, such as Kentucky, Michigan, and Wisconsin, recognize New Year’s Eve as a holiday. This implies that many of their people will take time off work and begin their festivities early. Good news for those who work in these states!

However, just because New Year’s Eve isn’t an official holiday in many locations doesn’t mean you have to go to work or school on that day. The great majority of schools and educational institutions in the United States are closed. Likewise, libraries are often closed too.

If your manager is friendly, your office may also be closed, or you will likely close early. This all depends on your demand during the holiday season. It could be that your office isn’t busy on New Year’s Eve so your boss will close. However, if you work at one of the aforementioned places that tend to be busy on New Year’s Eve, you’ll likely be expected to work!

Do Businesses Have Regular Hours on New Year’s Eve?

Most businesses have regular hours on New Year’s Eve. Since New Year’s Eve is not a federal holiday, government offices are opened at regular hours and this means most banks run normally as well. Retail and entertainment venues tend to operate at regular hours, too.

However, many of these same places will close the next day, New Year’s Day, since it’s a federal holiday. Those that remain open on New Year’s Day tend to operate at a modified schedule. For instance, banks are closed on New Year’s and public transportation will have a holiday schedule with shorter runs.

So, if you’re planning a vacation or doing errands, I’d strongly advise calling ahead and just making sure you’re aware of your destination’s business hours. In some places, there will even be stores and restaurants that have shortened or limited hours or will not be open at all on this non-holiday, New Year’s Eve celebration.

As you’re undoubtedly aware, many restaurants, bars, clubs, theatres, and other entertainment venues host special programs or events on New Year’s Eve. Make your arrangements, get your tickets, and do everything else ahead of time. This also means while they will be open on New Year’s Eve and you if an employee might be working, it might not be available for the general public.

In my experience, arriving at an open bar event expecting to buy a ticket at the door to find out it’s entirely sold out is a tremendous letdown – unless you enjoy watching your pals have a great time through a window in the cold!

On December 31st, then, much of the US remains open for business, or at least for a large portion of the day. Don’t worry; even if you work a long day on the last day of the year, the celebration will undoubtedly continue until your clock out time.

Wrapping Up Work on New Year’s Eve

To wrap it up, most people are expected to work on New Year’s Eve. New Year’s Eve is not actually a holiday by most standards, including that it’s not a federally observed day off.

However, there are some places that will close on New Year’s Eve, like schools, libraries, and some businesses, especially those that don’t have a large demand to be open on New Year’s Eve. It can be prudent to close instead- elevating employee morale and even saving money by not keeping a building open.

Retail and entertainment venues, however, will do brisk business on December 31st and likely will be open and possibly even extend their hours.

To be sure, of course, I recommend checking in advance with your boss if you are having to work on New Year’s Eve, or if you as a patron want to visit a business on New Year’s Eve to see if they’re open.

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