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Labor Day is a time for remembering the hard-won struggles of workers from generations past, as well as preparing for a busy holiday season ahead. It’s a great opportunity for businesses to get ready for the end of the year, and learn some history about just how important this day is for workers and business owners alike.

Here are 10 quick facts about Labor Day that businesses should know.

1. Labor Day Was Born Out of the Organized Labor Movement 

Working conditions in the decades after the Industrial Revolution were hard: grueling hours and unsafe conditions were more the rule than the exception. Labor Day takes its origins from the 19th-century labor movement, which sought to ease those conditions by making work more “workable.”

The first unions began as associations for workers to organize and advocate together for their rights. In September 1882, a network of labor unions in New York City decided to hold a parade to demonstrate public support for unionization and let everyone know they existed, raising awareness about their effots. The event was so popular that it inspired other unions in the country to start their own parades, beginning the famous tradition still held nationwide today.

2. President Grover Cleveland Turned Labor Day Into a Holiday

The labor movement was often met with stark opposition, and violence sometimes broke out at union rallies, most infamously in Haymarket Square in Chicago. Faced with intense domestic pressure and desiring to take a strong stand on the controversy, President Cleveland made Labor Day a national holiday in 1894. Many other states already celebrated Labor Day locally by then, but 1894 made it official nationwide. 

To this day, historians argue about President Cleveland’s motives. Was he genuinely concerned for workers’ rights, or was he trying to gain favor from working-class voters? The president’s thought process may be lost to time, but the results of this choice are still with us today.

3. The Idea for Labor Day Started in Canada

Although it might disappoint some Americans to hear it, the original idea for Labor Day actually started in Canada. The first parades of what would eventually become Labor Day started in 1872, when the Toronto Printers Union went on strike to pressure employers for a more balanced work week and.

The TPU strikes in 1872 became a massive public demonstration, ultimately involving a tenth of the population of Toronto. Strict labor laws meant that the strike leaders were quickly put in jail, but public pressure secured their release. City leaders finally repudiated old labor laws criminalizing unions and the right to strike.

These labor demonstrations went on to inspire the labor movement in America, leading both the United States and Canada to make Labor Day into national holidays.

4. Dates and Traditions of Observance Are Always Changing

Labor Day falls on the first Monday of September each year, which means the exact date of the celebration varies. In 2026, it won’t be observed until September 7! Whatever day Labor Day falls upon, we can expect traditional parades, fireworks, and other celebrations all over the country. 

Workers anywhere in the United States can find a fun Labor Day event to attend. Some of the biggest events include: 

5. Many Employers Give Time Off On Labor Day

Although it’s not required, 97% of employers nationwide give their employees time off. It’s one of the most common paid-time-off holidays in the United States, up there with Thanksgiving and Christmas. However, there’s no federal mandate saying employers must give paid time off on Labor Day, and plenty of companies need to be ready to help customers even when other businesses are closed.

The U.S. Department of Labor clarifies that employers are not required to pay employees for time not spent working. There is no special “Labor Day exception” to this standard. Employers might choose to offer paid time off as a benefit to their employees or to attract top talent, but nothing about this is mandatory. 

6. Companies Offer Different Methods for Taking Time Off on Labor Day

Owing to the potential for ambiguities to arise regarding Labor Day time off, many businesses include specific information about Labor Day in their employee handbooks. Employers should carefully outline their protocol for paid and unpaid time off, taking special notice of holidays like Labor Day. That can head off confusion or hurt feelings when the actual holiday rolls around.

For example, some companies opt to dispense time off on a rotating basis. Especially in an industry that can’t afford to shut down entirely for Labor Day, some employees can work on the holiday while others take time off. The company can make these decisions in advance by offering a variety of alternative vacation options over the course of the year.

7. Labor Day Offers Unique Content Marketing Opportunities

Labor Day is a prime purchasing time for consumers around the country — and that means it’s prime marketing time for any company.

Long before Labor Day weekend commences, companies should gather relevant customer data and articulate an explicit marketing plan for the holiday. The content calendar should be full of Labor Day-related emails and blog posts. This serves to build a connection between the business and the customer, while providing a key opportunity to broaden their audience. 

Since customers will be looking for promotions, this is an excellent time to offer them. Email marketing should emphasize discounts or promotions for the upcoming Labor Day weekend, sharing details for how customers can take advantage of them. This is also a great time of year to run ads for the company’s products or services.

8. Labor Day Is a Great Time for Business Partnerships 

With everyone looking to promote their services during the holiday, companies can pool their efforts together to achieve better results.

For example, businesses might scout social media for major influencers whose messaging aligns with the company’s goals. Reaching out to them before Labor Day to arrange cross-promotional efforts can be a great way to boost engagement levels and sales across the boards. 

The right social media influencer with an established audience can make for exceptional collaboration. Choose a Labor Day marketing campaign that matches both the company and the influencer’s brand, be it a series of Instagram posts or a video blogging series on YouTube. The aim is to get the word out and get people talking.

9. People in Essential Positions Will Still Be Working On Labor Day

Even businesses that mostly end their operations for Labor Day still typically have the necessary support staff at the ready. Hackers don’t rest for Labor Day and neither do cybersecurity teams. Technical support usually still fields customer calls as well, particularly in software companies.

Employees in supervisory or management positions seldom take time off for Labor Day. The office might be a little emptier than usual, but they’ll still be there, actively planning for resumed operations. The larger a company is, the more likely they are to have some employees continue working on Labor Day. 

10. Labor Day Is the Start of the Overall Holiday Season

Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas seem like they’re a long way off during the first week of September, but business owners know they’re coming up fast. Labor Day generally marks the beginning of the holiday season, and companies must prepare accordingly.

Labor Day is a great time to start: 

  • Stocking up on necessary merchandise for the months ahead. 
  • Ensuring that staff are properly trained and prepared to field new customer inquiries. 
  • Putting together meticulous marketing campaigns for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.  

The early bird catches the worm, but the early marketer catches the competitive advantage. The weeks leading up to Labor Day are a time of preparation, both for Labor Day itself and for what comes after. 

Make the Most of Labor Day with a Dedicated HR Team

Human resources teams act as a liaison between employers and their employees. Their principal job is to ensure employee wellbeing, in terms of training, morale, preparedness, and more. Holidays like Labor Day place unique stressors on workforces that an HR team can help mitigate.

Dedicated human resources teams can help: 

  • Communicate concerns or insights between management and workers. 
  • Prepare training and orientation manuals that tell employees what to expect during the holiday season. 
  • Distribute employment benefits, such as time off or overtime allowance, as needed. 
  • Brainstorm and implement fun or morale-boosting events during major holidays. 

Partnering with a professional employer organization (PEO) like Resourcing Edge can help companies navigate any holiday season. Resourcing Edge can help businesses audit their own internal policies with respect to paid time off and other benefits. They also help companies shore up staffing vacancies via temporary hires and other solutions to keep things running smoothly.

Contact a representative from Resourcing Edge to learn more about how you can streamline your HR processes.

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