Working On Easter Sunday in the US (Explained)

Easter is an important holiday for Christians, but also culturally relevant in the US for most people, regardless of religion. With that in mind, it’s understandable that many would like (or expect) to have the day off from work. However, not all businesses are closed, thus some people will be working Easter Sunday.

Working on Easter Sunday is to be expected at some types of US businesses. However, a few have the day off since it’s a major religious holiday that also falls on Sunday. To be sure, check with your employer or call ahead at stores and businesses about the status for working on Easter Sunday.

Depending upon your type of job or career choice, it may be unreasonable to expect Easter Sunday off. However, even in those cases, people often can negotiate time off by working extra at other times or a different holiday (not as important to them). Also, most places that are ‘open’ will do so at reduced hours, making it a bit easier for employees working that day.

I’ll share what I’ve learned in my experience and research about working on Easter Sunday, below.


Is It Legal To Work On Easter Sunday?

The Fair Labors Standards Act (FLSA) doesn’t require pay for vacations and holidays in the US, though it offers protection for overtime and other minimum labor expectations. But does this mean it’s legal to actually require working on Easter Sunday or other religious holidays?

In the US it is legal to require employees to work on Easter Sunday. Work hours and days should be presented in writing upon hiring through either a contract or employee handbook. What’s not legal is to have differing expectations based on sex, race, or religion as that is called discrimination.

Whether you are employed or you are self-employed, working on this holiday could be somewhat tricky. You see, on one hand, it’s great to have fun with family or just enjoy the day off. However, for many, if you’re not working you may not get paid, especially as a sole proprietor.

And as for legality, it’s totally legal to work on holidays, weekends, or religious days like Easter Sunday. So if your job requires it (or you need to work on Easter Sunday as a business owner), it is acceptable by legal terms.

One thing to consider, though, is while no exact statutory clause exists limiting or negating working on Easter Sunday, some places of employment prohibit it in writing due to union negotiations. If businesses try to change those agreements without new negotiations, THAT could be ‘illegal’.

In addition, you also have to consider the fact that not everyone, including your boss, is a Christian and adheres to Christian holiday ideals (or any kind of religious celebrations). So depending on your boss’ ideologies, you may have no other choice but to work on Easter Sunday.

There is also the aspect of time being a real factor for sole proprietors just starting, or those who just need to make extra money. In these situations, it might be detrimental to take whole days off-especially weekends when customers might be more available to shop, dine, etcetera.

So generally, the legality of working on Easter Sundays is that while it is legal, it might not be acceptable due to contract limitations. As well, some people might prefer working or needing to be ‘open’ on Easter Sunday despite legalities in order to maximize profits.

If you have to work on Easter Sunday and ties are your normal attire as a man, this Men’s Holiday Easter Egg Necktie could help make the day a bit more celebratory. For Women, this Rhinestone Crystal Bunny Rabbit Pin Brooch for Easter would also make the day a bit more festive.

Common US Businesses Open and Working On Easter Sunday

  • Walmart and many other ‘big box’ department stores are most always open on Easter. Walmart closes only on Christmas most years, though it commonly adjusts hours for ‘holidays’ to shorten them a bit.

For this reason, it’s suggested to always call ahead and check their store ‘holiday’ hours or pay attention to the notices they usually post on the store front doors alerting customers to changes.

  • Convenient Stores– Small ‘convenient’ stores across the US are commonly open on Easter Sunday. Examples of these kinds of stores are 7-11 and WaWa. These stores pride themselves on always being opened, thus their ‘convenient’ distinction.

Even so, they may have holiday hours specific to their region and demand, so again, check ahead to avoid the in’convenience’ of showing up too early or late to purchase your last-minute item.

  • Gas Stations-Almost all gas stations are opened on Easter. The only exceptions might be ‘mom & pop’ gas stations in very small towns. It’s almost guaranteed that gas facilities off the freeways or interstate highways will be open on Easter, as well as even the most holy of all holidays, Christmas.

But even then, gas stations might have reduced hours. Those typical for 24 hour availability like Exxon and Shell may even be reduced. If you need gas, you can probably drive on down the road a bit more and find something open if your first stop is ‘closed’ at that time.

  • Restaurants and Hotels- Though some fast food restaurants close on Easter like Chick-fil-A and Arby’s, you are likely to find most all McDonalds and Burger Kings open.

However, the big business for restaurants on Easter Sunday are the sit-down variety. From chains like Red Lobster and Olive Garden to more localized kind like the Copper Foods Family Restaurants in Knoxville, Tennessee, restaurants are popular on Easter for family crowds who want to get together but not ‘work’, so they’re likely to not only be open, but also very busy.

However, calling ahead is still wise. It may be necessary to make reservations on popular holidays like Easter and then also, certain ‘mom & pop’ places may have holiday hours or be closed despite the enticement of crowds.

Then also, hotels and motels never close (with few exceptions of small locally-owned spots). From Marriot to Motel 6, you can bet on service any day of the year and for the most part, any hour.

  • Entertainment Venues- Cinemas are commonly open on holidays so you can always see a movie on Easter Sunday. Often times films are purposely released on a holiday, though Easter isn’t necessarily popular for that.

Likewise, bowling alleys, Putt-Putt mini golf, Laser-Tag indoor sporting places and so on are also likely to be open Easter Sunday, or kept to their regular ‘Sunday hours.’

  • Health and Safety Services- And finally, as we’d expect, hospitals, urgent care facilities, hospices, fire and police departments remain open on Easter Sunday (and every other day of the year).

So if you plan a career in any of these fields, it is reasonable to expect to be working on Easter Sunday, at least in your first few years of employment. As you rise in the field, it’s possible to negotiate working on Easter Sunday or do trade-offs for other holiday working.

Businesses Around the US NOT Open And Working On Easter Sunday

Surprising to many, Target is usually not open on Easter. Also commonly and just as surprisingly closed on Easter Sunday are Aldi, Ace Hardware, Best Buy, and Costco. For many ‘big box’ stores like these not requiring employees to work on major holidays is a perk that helps them entice and retain valued workers.

  • Offices-Corporations and other ‘office’ type businesses are usually closed on Easter Sunday. This isn’t particularly shocking since they are also typically closed on all Sundays.
  • Salons and Spas- Many haircutting salons are closed on Easter Sunday. Some salons and spas are open most Sundays because they cater to those looking for weekend pampering. However, being that Easter is a holiday, many people skip those self-care services until a regular weekend time.
  • Government/Schools- And of course, government facilities and schools (from preschool to college) are closed on Easter Sunday. Again, they’re typically not open on Sunday anyway but often in these situations, they’ll be closed the previous Friday or following Monday according to OPM and the largest school district in the US, NYC Public Schools.

You might also like these articles from Hopeful Holidays:

Do You Get Paid More Working Easter Sunday?

Your payment for working on Easter Sunday is dependent on the nature of your job. Some people are entitled to stay home on such holidays depending on their particular employee requirements and perks. But whenever they have to work in these holidays, they get additional pay for working Easter Sunday?

Working on Easter Sunday could mean more pay as it’s a US holiday, but it depends on your job or career. Generally, if you are full-time and paid an hourly rate, you could expect more. However, salaried professionals are not paid more as their pay is set regardless of the number of working hours.

So, for instance, as a public school teacher, I already had Easter Sunday off, being that teachers don’t work on weekends. That being said, some teachers are expected to work ‘some’ weekends if special events at the school are happening or for professional development from time to time.

For me, I worked on several Sundays over the years ‘as a requirement’ to attend professional training. Some of these were even over night. But, even under these conditions, I never worked a holiday weekend like Easter Sunday.

During working Sundays, though, I also was not paid more because I was a salaried employee. And as a salaried employee, my pay didn’t change. (On a side note, it also meant when I had the unexpected ‘snow day off’, my pay wasn’t docked either.)

On the flipside, full-time/hourly employees who are required to work on holidays like working on Easter Sunday, are often paid more during those hours. For example, while in college I worked at CVS drugstore. As a low-person-on-the-totem-pole, I worked every holiday they were open including Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Eve.

Yet, I didn’t earn more…I wasn’t full-time. The full-time colleagues who worked did though. There were some other caveats for that increase such as needing to work the day before AND after, but those requirements were all laid out in the employee handbook.

So- pay attention to your contract or employee documents so you’ll know what to expect about working Easter Sunday or any other kind of holiday as it pertains to making more money (or not).

Can Your Boss Make You Work On Your Day Off/Easter Sunday?

Your boss is at liberty to call you in for work even on your day off or on Easter Sunday if you have an agreement on being available for work anytime. In addition, if you are entitled to overtime pay, you may have to respond to the call of duty despite it being a religious holiday.

Your boss can make you work your day off in most cases. However, to avoid abuse or misunderstandings, usually the employee handbook or contract provides clear expectations. When concerns pop up, you can seek clarification from HR or by talking directly with your supervisor.

As a teacher, my contract provided clear days off for holidays and weekends; as well, I was provided sick and personal days detailed in my contract. I was at liberty to use my sick or personal days as I wanted, within the boundaries detailed in the contract. My ‘boss’ could not overrule those details, even if he or she wanted.

But to be clear, if I elected to take a day off when I knew he/she didn’t approve, it left me open to underhanded slights and could affect my reputation for dependability and such.

So keep that in mind, too, if you choose to take a day off despite your supervisor’s wishes even if you are entitled. As well, if your employer wants you to work your day off and you prefer not to, sometimes it’s better to do it anyway, and save yourself problems later down the road.

Most bosses are willing to provide time off, even holidays, with enough notice, providing you’re a reliable, hardworking employee.

Tip: It is always possible to negotiate days off with your employer even if you are expected to work on Easter Sunday or other holidays. One of the best ways to do this is to talk about it during the hiring process.

I worked throughout college at a fast food restaurant which was open most days of the year, but I didn’t want to work Sundays, ever. So during my job interview, I let my prospective boss know this right up front. I was clear that working on Sunday (Easter included) would not be something I was willing to do.

And they agreed before offering me the job. This isn’t to say they didn’t try to put me on the Sunday schedule from time to time, but every time it happened, I reminded them of our agreement. I also had to be willing to quit if they didn’t uphold the agreement.

Because I was a reliable, hardworking employee, though, they acquiesced to my need.

Wrapping Up Working on Easter Sunday

To wrap it up, here are the highlights to remember about working on Easter Sunday.

Working on Easter Sunday is legal in the US. Some places of employment might have prohibitions about working Easter, however, in those cases, you can have standing against your employer if they try to violate that. You’ll need to talk to HR, your supervisor, union rep, or possibly a lawyer if you find yourself in that kind of situation.

As well, there are some US businesses where you can expect to not work Easter Sunday as they are typically ‘off’ like public schools and certain corporations that are frequently closed weekends anyway.

But on the other hand, there are also US service industries that are guaranteed open every day of the year, so expect to be working on Easter Sunday if you choose one of those careers (like being a doctor, EMT, or hotel staff).

Other suggested articles: Are Restaurants Busy On Memorial Day? (Revealed) and Does Amazon Deliver on Columbus Day? (Answered)

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