Will We Miss Two Paid Holidays During This Christmas Season?

Some people are apparently planning ahead and are very curious about their paid holidays (or lack of them) during the upcoming Christmas season. For those who asked (or were even thinking about the question) here is the answer you are undoubtedly hoping to get.

We have a very small staff of people at FedSmith and cannot always answer all of the email that comes in every day. We do, however, always read the mail that is directed to us through the website (as opposed to those that are sent to our automated computer program that handles subscriptions to our newsletter). Many of the notes are a basis for future articles.

One question popped up several times recently and made me wonder what is going on. The question: Will we (federal employees) get a paid holiday for Christmas and New Year’s day?”

I ignored the question the first time I saw it but when several came in, decided to check and see what is going on that may have caused a concern.

Federal employees usually get a paid holiday on 10 different days. In fact, it is a good deal because, as those who have worked for private companies know, if a holiday happens to fall on a weekend, many companies do not give employees a day off with pay when that occurs. Whether you agree with the policy or not (and, no doubt, the overwhelming percentage of readers agree), Uncle Sam usually gives you a day off with pay even when a holiday (such as July 4th or Christmas which is always on December 25th) falls on a weekend.

No doubt, this is the source of confusion for those who may be worried about getting a paid holiday to celebrate the new year. New Year’s day is, of course, always celebrated on January 1st. January 1, 2011 falls on a Saturday. In fact,  if you are curious, December 25th also falls on a Saturday in 2010.

For those who are sufficiently worried to start writing emails about the subject, fear not.

You will get a paid holiday on Friday, December 24th because Christmas is on Saturday, December 25th. And, because January 1st is also on a Saturday, you will not be “cheated” out of an extra paid holiday. Instead, you will get a paid holiday on Friday, December 31, 2010.

Perhaps some readers are thinking that with unemployment hovering around 10% for over a year now, with the White House indicating unemployment is expected to remain above 9% until 2012, with America’s trade deficit expanding and our national debt now exploding by more than $1 trillion every year, Congress or the administration would want to make a statement by cutting back on expenses and now observing a holiday for the federal workforce when the holiday falls on a Saturday.

Rather than relying on the experience of the last 30 years or so, to make sure that the holiday schedule would not be altered this year, I verified the accuracy of the holiday schedule with the Office of Personnel Management’s website. And, as you can see, it has already been announced that most federal employees will get a paid holiday on Friday, December 24th.

And, as you can see from this chart, Friday, December 31st is also a paid holiday for most of the federal workforce because January 1, 2011 falls on a Saturday.

For those who may still be a little nervous about these holidays, here is a statement from OPM that may soothe your jangled nerves:

Federal law (5 U.S.C. 6103) establishes the following public holidays for Federal employees. Please note that most Federal employees work on a Monday through Friday schedule. For these employees, when a holiday falls on a nonworkday — Saturday or Sunday — the holiday usually is observed on Monday (if the holiday falls on Sunday) or Friday (if the holiday falls on Saturday).

As for those who often work on weekends or have shifts that do not coincide with the typical workday schedule, please check with your servicing human resources office for advice about how your paid holidays will work for the upcoming holiday season.

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