Christmas 2022: Will Federal Employees Have an Extra Holiday?

Will President Biden give federal employees an extra holiday for Christmas 2022? That is unlikely.

Update: No Executive Order Issued for Extra Christmas 2022 Holiday for Federal Employees

In November, FedSmith published this article regarding whether President Biden was likely to give federal employees an additional holiday for Christmas this year. The article concluded it was unlikely to grant an additional holiday since Monday, December 26th, 2022 is already a federal holiday.

As of the morning of December 23, 2022 (the time of this update), no Executive Order was issued. Therefore, December 23rd, 2022 is not a federal holiday. So, for most federal employees, today will be a regular workday. Although, with massive winter storms across the country today, it is also possible that some federal employees are off due to an office being closed due to weather. Washington, DC area federal employees, for example, have the option for unscheduled leave or telework due to winter weather and cold temperatures moving into the area Christmas weekend.

Christmas 2022 Falls on Sunday

One question that always arises late in the year and is of interest to many FedSmith readers is: “Will the president issue an executive order giving us an extra day off for Christmas this year?”

The answer is often “yes.” There are a number of years in which federal employees have been given an extra day off for Christmas. But, for Christmas 2022, plan on using annual leave if you need or want an extra day off from work.

December 26th, 2022 is a Federal Holiday This Year

Here is why that is the case.

Christmas falls on Sunday, December 25, 2022. Monday, December 26, 2022 is a federal holiday for most federal employees. Why is Monday a holiday? You can thank President Richard Nixon. He issued Executive Order 11582 in 1971. A section of this Order reads:

Any employee whose basic workweek does not include Sunday and who would ordinarily be excused from work on a holiday falling within his basic workweek shall be excused from work on the next workday of his basic workweek whenever a holiday falls on Sunday.

“In lieu of” holidays must be observed on the specific days indicated below:

  • The general rule is that the “in lieu of” holiday is the workday immediately preceding the non-workday on which the holiday fell. This general rule applies except as noted below.
  • When the holiday falls on a Sunday non-workday (or, for an employee whose basic workweek includes Sunday, a non-workday (if any) designated as the employee’s in-lieu-of-Sunday non-workday), the “in lieu of” holiday is the workday immediately following the non-workday.
  • For full-time employees on compressed work schedules, if the head of an agency determines that a different “in lieu of” holiday is necessary to prevent an “adverse agency impact,” he or she may designate a different “in lieu of” holiday. (See 5 U.S.C. 6103(d) and 6131(b).)

In other words, Christmas Day is on a Sunday this year. Federal employees already get an extra day off on Monday as an “in lieu of” holiday. When Christmas Eve is on a Monday, presidents have often given federal employees that day off. If President Biden decided to have another federal employee holiday on Tuesday after the observed Christmas holiday on Monday, it would be the only time that has happened.

What Happened Last Time Christmas Was on a Sunday?

For the reasons above, it is unlikely the president will grant federal employees another day off of work for Christmas in 2022. In 2016, Christmas fell on a Sunday. Federal employees did not receive any extra time off that year.

But nothing precludes a president from granting another holiday and presidents have been more generous in this regard in recent years.

President Trump was generous with giving federal employees extra time off at Christmas. In 2018, President Trump issued an Executive Order on December 18 giving federal employees an extra holiday by declaring December 24 (Monday) to be a holiday. Christmas was on a Tuesday in 2018.

In 2019, he closed most government agencies and executive departments for eight hours on Christmas Eve, which fell on a Tuesday. In 2020, he awarded most federal employees a holiday on Thursday, December 24, the day before Christmas.

There has generally been more generosity with presidents giving federal employees an extra day off now than was the case in earlier years.

In 2012, the president announced the extra time off on December 21st. The holiday announced was for Monday, December 24th (Christmas Eve). Perhaps it was a coincidence, but that happened after a petition on the White House website asked the president for an extra day of vacation exceeded the minimum signature threshold in requiring a response from the administration.

In addition to 2012, President Obama gave federal employees a half-day off in 2009, when Christmas fell on a Friday but did not give any time off in 2010 or 2011.

Last year, Christmas Day was a Saturday. The federal holiday was observed on Christmas Eve which was Friday, December 24th. No additional time off was given to the federal workforce.

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