A Week Off for Some Federal Employees Using 3 Days of Annual Leave

Some federal employees can take off for a week in January by using three days of annual leave. Here is how and why.

Inauguration day comes around every four years. This sometimes leads to complaints from readers who do not work in the Washington, DC area.

A typical comment is, “Why should federal employees in DC be the only ones to get Inauguration Day off? We work for the same president.”

This year may be more significant. Some readers will be able to take a week off using only three days of annual leave. Generally, this will only apply to Federal employees working in the Washington area.

Here is why.

Two Paid Holidays in the Same Week

The holiday for the birthday of Martin Luther King is Monday, January 16. Inauguration Day is on Friday, January 20. Both holidays are in the same week.

For most who live in the Washington, DC area, January 20th is a legal holiday. This means a Federal employee could use three days of annual leave and be away for nine days.

Pay and Leave for the Martin Luther King Holiday

The birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., is a holiday for pay and leave purposes for all Federal employees.  Full-time and part-time employees who are regularly scheduled to work on this day are entitled to holiday pay equal to the pay they otherwise would receive for a regular workday.

Full-time employees on flexible work schedules are entitled to 8 hours of pay for this holiday.  Employees who cannot be given time off and must work on January 16 are entitled to holiday premium pay for hours worked within their regularly scheduled basic workweek.  Full-time employees who are not regularly scheduled to work on January 16 are entitled to a day off in lieu of the holiday.

Inauguration Day Holiday

Friday, January 20, 2017, is a legal public holiday only for Federal employees who work in the “Inauguration Day area.” (This is for the District of Columbia, Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties in Maryland, Arlington and Fairfax Counties in Virginia, and the cities of Alexandria and Falls Church in Virginia).

Why Is Inauguration Day Only Celebrated in the DC Area?

The legislative history of this legal public holiday states the holiday was established to allow employees working in the Inauguration Day area to attend the nearby inaugural ceremonies. It also is to avoid the traffic problems and work disruptions that would occur if Federal employees had to go to work on that day.

One more item: Federal employees working in the vicinity of Washington, DC, can expect significant delays and travel disruptions on Wednesday, January 18 and Thursday, January 19.  There will be extensive road closures, mass transit changes, motorcades, and security perimeters will be established.

In other words, best of luck in getting to work if you live in the DC area during this week.

Pay and Leave Rules for Inauguration Day in the “Inauguration Day Area”

The Inauguration Day holiday is different than other Federal holidays.  It is only for employees with a work connection to the designated geographic area on Inauguration Day. Here is who gets the paid holiday.

  1. Employees with an official worksite in the Inauguration Day area. This does not apply if scheduled to be working outside the Inauguration Day area due to official duty away from the official worksite.
  2. Employees with an official worksite outside the Inauguration Day area who are scheduled to be working in the Washington area due to an official duty away from the official worksite.

What About Employees on “Telework”?

The Inauguration Day holiday applies to an employee under a telework agreement. It only applies if an employee is scheduled to telework on Inauguration Day within the Inauguration Day area.

We wish the best of luck to workers trying to commute to work in Washington during the week of Inauguration Day.

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