President Tells Federal Workers They Can Go Home Early on Christmas Eve

President Obama has issued an executive order granting federal workers an extra half day off on Christmas Eve.

Federal workers will be happy to hear about an executive order just issued by President Obama that gives them an extra half day off on Christmas Eve. readers will recall that there were two petitions on the White House’s We the People website asking the president to give federal employees an extra paid day off at Christmas. Is this executive order a result of the petitions?

Not likely. To start, the executive order is for a half day off, and the petitions were asking for an extra full day off, so the petitioners and individuals who signed the petitions may be disappointed. Also, neither petition has come anywhere close to date to generating the 100,000 signatures required to receive a response from the White House.

It is not unusual for presidents to sometimes grant extra time off to federal workers around the Christmas holiday. Last year around this time, the president gave the federal workforce an extra full day off the day after Christmas. As we noted at that time, “The federal government has gotten more generous in giving federal employees an extra day off now than was the case in previous decades.”

The Office of Personnel Management has issued guidance for agencies on how to treat the extra half day off for pay and leave purposes. See our blog post, Guidance From OPM on Extra Half Day Off on Christmas Eve, for important details about this memo and how the leave will be applied.

The president’s full executive order is included below.

Executive Order — Half-Day Closing of Executive Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government on Thursday, December 24, 2015


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By the authority vested in me as President of the United States of America, by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. All executive branch departments and agencies of the Federal Government shall be closed and their employees excused from duty for the last half of the scheduled workday on Thursday, December 24, 2015, the day before Christmas Day, except as provided in section 2 of this order.

Sec. 2. The heads of executive branch departments and agencies may determine that certain offices and installations of their organizations, or parts thereof, must remain open and that certain employees must remain on duty for the full scheduled workday on December 24, 2015, for reasons of national security, defense, or other public need.

Sec. 3. Thursday, December 24, 2015, shall be considered as falling within the scope of Executive Order 11582 of February 11, 1971, and of 5 U.S.C. 5546 and 6103(b) and other similar statutes insofar as they relate to the pay and leave of employees of the United States.

Sec. 4. The Director of the Office of Personnel Management shall take such actions as may be necessary to implement this order.

Sec. 5. General Provisions. (a) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(b) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or

(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(c) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.


THE WHITE HOUSE, December 11, 2015.

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.