A Four-Day Weekend (With Pay) Coming This Month

Some readers will be getting a four-day weekend in January. Other readers will get a three-day weekend. Here is how the holiday will work.

If you work in the Washington, DC area, you have a very long weekend coming up.

Federal employees in the immediate Washington, DC, area will have two more holidays in January. The first additional holiday (after New Year’s Day) is to celebrate the Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. (Monday, January 19). The second holiday is Inauguration Day (Tuesday, January 20).  In effect, you can leave work on Friday, January 16th) knowing you don’t have to come back to work until the next Wednesday. No doubt, some enterprising federal employees will see this as an opportunity to take a couple of extra days of leave and have an entire week off of work without using five days of leave.

Please note that this only applies to employees in the Washington, DC area. It is a legal public holiday for pay and leave purposes only for Federal employees who work in the “Inauguration Day area”. This includes the District of Columbia, Montgomery or Prince George’s Counties in Maryland, Arlington or Fairfax Counties in Virginia, or the cities of Alexandria or Falls Church in Virginia.

The Martin Luther King holiday applies to all federal employees, regardless of whether you live in the Washington, DC area of elsewhere.

The two holidays fall within the same pay period, which begins on January 18 and ends on January 31, 2009.

Why Inauguration Day is Different

According to the Office of Personnel Management, Inauguration Day holiday is different than other Federal holidays for several reasons.  It limited to employees with a qualifying work connection to the designated geographic area on Inauguration Day, as follows:

(1) Employees with an official worksite in the Inauguration Day area unless they are scheduled to be working outside the Inauguration Day area due to official duty away from the official worksite (e.g., a 1-day assignment), official travel, or telework; and

(2) Employees with an official worksite outside the Inauguration Day area who are scheduled to be working in the Inauguration Day area due to a official duty away from the official worksite (e.g., 1-day assignment), official travel, or telework.

And, as most readers know, nothing is that simple as just declaring an extra holiday or two. Other questions always arise. For example, what about those who are on an alternative work schedule? Here is the OPM explanation:

What About Alternative Work Schedules?

Since the Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Inauguration Day both fall within the same pay period, the holidays will affect employees who are on alternative work schedules in the Inauguration Day area, as follows:

(1) Flexible Work Schedules

Full-time employees on flexible work schedules are entitled to 8 hours of pay when they do not work on a holiday. For a full-time employee on a 5/4-9 flexible schedule (or another flexible schedule under which he or she chooses to work more than 8 hours a day), the employee 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.

(2) Compressed Work Schedules

Full-time employees on compressed work schedules (i.e., work schedules with fixed days and fixed starting and quitting times that are established in advance of the administrative workweek with no employee flexibility to change after the administrative workweek has begun) are generally excused from all the nonovertime hours they would otherwise work on a holiday as 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.

What About Pay for Political Appointees Who Are Resigning on January 20th?

Here is the OPM guidance on this topic: Since holiday pay is contingent upon the number of hours scheduled for work, affected employees are entitled to compensation (including holiday pay or any applicable holiday premium pay) only for periods of time during which their Federal appointments are in effect. Accordingly, each agency is responsible for determining the number of hours of pay for each non-career appointee based on the employee’s work schedule for that day, prior to the termination of his or her appointment at noon (EST).

So, congratulations to all our readers living in the Washington, DC area who will have extra time off in January.

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