One challenge that U.S. subsidiaries of foreign companies often face is formulating a sick or vacation day policy that is consistent and comparable with what other locally-owned companies offer to their employees. U.S. subsidiaries hire a fair amount of local employees and providing these employees with the same or similar holiday benefits that their counterparts enjoy at American companies has been a critical issue. This is because providing comparative holiday benefits can help companies strengthen their recruitment locally, retain their current employees, avoid unions, and manage other risks more effectively.
The Illinois Chamber Paid Holiday Survey ("Survey") is a beneficial tool for businesses in developing a schedule of holiday benefits for their employees. The Survey is a good indicator of what employees will be doing with regards to holiday benefits and, therefore, has been considered the standard when developing a holiday benefits schedule in Illinois. Recently, the Illinois Chamber of Commerce ("Chamber) released the result of its Survey for 2017. For this annual Survey, the Chamber took a poll of Illinois companies from a wide range of industries, including manufacturing, services, finance/banking, insurance/real estate and government, and companies of all sizes have been studied.
The Survey provides helpful guidance that companies can use to make sure that their holiday benefits schedule match those of their competitors. For example, more than 96% of Illinois employers plan to close offices on New Year's Day 2017, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas. About 70% of the employers responded that they will close their office on the Friday after Thanksgiving, but only 2.3% answered that they will designate the Wednesday before Thanksgiving as a holiday. On the other hand, less than 10% of Illinois employees designate days like Lincoln's Birthday, Washington's Birthday, Election Day and Columbus Day as a holiday. About one-third of the employees questioned said they will observe Good Friday and New Year's Eve. Close to one-fourth of them said they will observe Veterans Day. The average number of paid holidays planned by the employers was 8.1, while the average number of paid personal days planned was 2.9.
The lesson that foreign-owned subsidiaries in the U.S. can learn from this Survey is substantial. Although there are many holidays on a calendar, not all of them are to be treated equally, at least from the holiday benefits perspective. If an employer does not plan to let its employees take their day off on days like New Year's Day, Independence Day or Thanksgiving, it may need to reevaluate its policy to keep its locally-hired employees happy and to be competitive with other Illinois businesses. On the other hand, when it comes to days like Election Day or Washington's Birthday, employers can exercise greater discretion on whether to close their offices or not.