Federal Employees Petition for an Extra Holiday at Christmas

By on November 29, 2015 in Pay & Benefits with 128 Comments

 

Image of a red christmas gift bow against a white background

A petition has Two petitions have been started on the White House’s “We the People” website asking for an extra day off with pay at Christmas for federal employees.

Each one specifically asks to have Thursday, December 24 off. Christmas is on a Friday this year which is already a federal holiday, but the author of the first petition says that federal workers deserve to get an extra paid holiday the day before to spend time with their families and to help boost the sagging morale of the federal workforce.

The first petition states:

Federal employees work extremely hard year after year to carry out our mission statement as public servants. Although we are a family at work, giving federal employees Christmas Eve off to spend with their families at home would not only be a wonderful gift from our president but would also boost morale in the workplace and within ourselves. We feel unappreciated with pay freezes and constant threats of government shutdowns. Being with our relatives is so important during this time and would mean everything. Giving federal employees Thursday December 24th off paid, would go a long way in showing that we deserve nothing but the best for our daily contributions in serving the people and would show how much our accomplishments and dedication deserves. Please consider this, sincerely we matter.

The author of the petition is referring to the annual pay raises granted to federal workers in recent years. Since 2008, the average annual pay raise for federal employees has been about 1.5%. However, that includes a 3-year stretch where no raise was given. For a more detailed looked at the history of pay raises given to federal workers, see Federal Pay Raises Through the Years.

The second is very short and direct and was posted after the first one. It simply asks for an executive order from the president to make December 24th a paid holiday for federal workers.

The latest effort to petition for a paid day off just took place at Thanksgiving where federal employees were asking the White House for Black Friday off as an extra vacation day. That petition ultimately went nowhere as it failed to get anywhere near the 100,000 signatures required to generate a response from the White House.

Many of the comments we received from our users indicated that they were frustrated by the petition for the extra paid Thanksgiving holiday, saying it portrays a bad image of a federal workforce and just gives the American public more fuel to stereotype federal workers and Congress another reason to target them.

One user wrote, “We get every federal holiday off. Lots of private sector folks do not get Columbus Day or Martin Luther King or others off. We are among the last workers in America to have a defined benefit pension plan. Our TSP is very stable and generously helped by the employer contribution. Our FEHB gets a generous boost from our employer. So this petition’s call for ‘please, sir, can I have more’ is not an Oliver plea but just reinforces the image that we are graspy folks who are actually doing quite okay even if, as some might suggest, our ‘comparability’ is less than it should be.”

Another added, “Yeah, we don’t already look ridiculous enough in the eyes of the private sector. Might as well make Black Friday a federal holiday.”

Another user seemed to agree with the general sentiment of the petition but said a higher annual raise would make more sense: “How about a meaningful raise instead and those that want it can take Annual Leave (and me, I prefer to work – it’s quiet!)”

Whether one agrees or disagrees about the tact of asking for more paid holidays via anonymous online petitions, one obvious question to ask is, “Do they work?”

This particular petition has a long way to go (it needs 100,000 signatures by December 21), but that’s not to say these efforts are impossible.

As we reported a few years ago, a petition that was started to get an extra day off at Christmas for federal employees may very well have influenced the final decision which ultimately granted the extra holiday. It did get the minimum number of required signatures at that time and received a response from the government.

Shortly thereafter, however, the White House raised the threshold on the minimum number of signatures from 25,000 up to 100,000 because of the popularity of the online petitions which will make these efforts much more challenging going forward.

© 2016 Ian Smith. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced without express written consent from Ian Smith.

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About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He enjoys writing about current topics that affect the federal workforce. Ian also has a background in web development and does the technical work for the FedSmith.com web site and its sibling sites.

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