Update: President Trump ended up giving most federal employees a full extra day off on Christmas Eve. The original article follows below.
In 2020, Christmas falls on a Friday so Christmas Eve is on Thursday. As usually happens this time of year, readers are asking: “Will federal employees get Christmas Eve off this year?”
We don’t know, of course, but the precedent has not been good for federal workers who would like an entire day off without having to dip into their leave account. As noted below, presidents have more often approved four hours off instead of eight.
On eight occasions, presidents have given federal employees four hours off on Christmas Eve when that day fell on Thursday.
Past Extra Time Off When Christmas Eve is on Thursday
When Christmas Day is on a Friday, the president has often given time off to federal employees on Christmas Eve (a Thursday).
- Harry S. Truman Executive Order 10019 – 12/02/1948 – 4 hours on 12/24/1948 (Thursday)
- Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Order 10508 – 12/14/1953 – 4 hours on 12/24/1953 (Thursday)
- Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Order 10856 – 12/03/1959 – 4 hours on 12/24/1959 (Thursday)
- Richard Nixon Executive Order 11573 – 12/21/1970 – 4 hours on 12/24/1970 (Thursday)
- Ronald R. Reagan Executive Order 12619 – 12/22/1987 – 4 hours on 12/24/1987 (Thursday)
- William J. Clinton Executive Order 13109 – 12/17/1998 – 4 hours on 12/24/1998 (Thursday)
- Barack Obama Executive Order 15323 – 12/11/2009 – 4 hours on 12/24/2009 (Thursday)
- Barack Obama Executive Order 13713 -12/11/2015 – 4 hours on 12/24/2015 (Thursday)
Christmas Time Off from President Trump
- Donald J. Trump, Executive Order 13854 – 12/18/2018, 8 hours on 12/24/2018 (Monday)
- Donald J. Trump, Executive Order 13900 – 12/20/2019, 8 hours on December 24, 2019 (Tuesday)
President Trump has been generous with giving federal employees extra time off at Christmas.
In 2019, he closed most government agencies and executive departments for eight hours on Christmas Eve, a Monday. Again in 2019, he granted eight hours of additional time off for most federal employees on Christmas Eve when that day fell on a Tuesday.
Christmas falls on a Friday in 2020 so Christmas Eve is on Thursday, December 24th. Will President Trump see fit to give federal employees an extra day off this year as he did in 2018 and 2019?
Based on past experience of our presidents, there is a good chance that President Trump will give federal employees four additional hours of time away from work on Christmas Eve. And, based on his actions since he has been in office, he may decide to provide a full day off on Thursday, December 24th.
As noted above, he did provide eight hours of additional time off on Tuesday, Christmas Eve, in 2019. That is unusual.
President Roosevelt provided federal employees eight hours off on Christmas Eve on a Tuesday in 1940. No presidents other than Franklin Roosevelt and Donald Trump have given federal employees eight hours off on Christmas Eve when it fell on a Tuesday.
Of course, in December 1940 World War II was starting up with the British military engaged in several battles. Although America did not enter the war until after the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese on December 7, 1941, chances are President Roosevelt could see the short-term future with American military involvement in World War II on the horizon.
We are not in a similar situation in 2020. We have just gone through a hotly contested election contest and litigation is continuing as of the date of this writing and the COVID pandemic has influenced our country in unexpected ways.
We do not know how any of this will impact President Trump’s decision on granting additional time off at Christmas. As always, federal employees who want to make sure they have more time off at Christmas would be well-advised to schedule using annual leave in advance of the holiday.