Some Feds To Get More Holiday Pay Than Others

There are two holidays coming up in one pay period. That will create numerous questions on how to handle pay for some federal employees. Here’s what OPM has to say about it.

Here’s a problem that doesn’t come up too often.

How do agencies handle questions about pay when there are two federal holidays in one pay period?

January 17 is a federal holiday in celebration of the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. The holiday is applicable to all federal employees regardless of their geographic location.

But, if you work in the Washington, DC metropolitan area, January 20 is also a federal holiday. It is Inauguration Day for the President.

For many federal employees in the Washington, DC metropolitan area, the issue is straight-forward. They normally get to the office about 8 a.m. and leave about 4:30 p.m. each day. For these holidays, they don’t go to work on either day and they get paid anyway.

But, if you work in places like Atlanta, Huntsville, or Seattle, you don’t get Inauguration Day off. Inauguration Day isn’t a holiday in the traditional sense of the word. It is just a way to cut down on traffic in the Washington area so all the federal employees going to work don’t get in the way of more important events.

But here’s the rub. What if you are a federal employee working in the Washington, DC area and you are on an alternative work schedule? For example, what if you work an extra amount of time so you get one or two days off per pay period? How does Inauguration Day impact your pay?

The human resources gurus at the Office of Personnel Management have already thought of this and have issued guidance for all agencies on how to handle this issue.

Here is their decision. If you are on an alternative work schedule in the Washington, DC area, and you are a full-time federal employee, you “must make arrangements to work extra hours during other regularly scheduled workdays (or take annual leave or use credit hours or compensatory time off) in order to fulfill the 80-hour biweekly work requirement.”

In effect, employees on a flexible work schedule may not get the entire day off without pay.

But the news isn’t all bad; in fact, some federal employees will get one or two more hours off with pay. According to OPM, “On a holiday, employees on compressed work schedules are generally excused from all nonovertime hours they would otherwise work on that day and which apply to their “basic work requirement.” For example, if a holiday falls on a 9- or 10-hour basic workday, the employee’s holiday is 9 or 10 hours, respectively.”

So there you have it. Some federal employees will be certain they have gotten a raw deal. (You can vent by using the comments section below; It may make you feel better). Some (at least a few) will be convinced they have a good deal by getting paid holidays from a very generous employer.

Enjoy the holidays. If you have more questions on holiday pay and how it works, here is the OPM page with more information.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47