Federal Holidays

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What are federal holidays? 

Federal holidays refer to the ten paid holidays that the federal government recognizes each year. During federal holidays, non-essential government agencies close and federal employees have a paid day off. Aside from non-essential government agencies, banks, schools, and post offices usually close during federal holidays.  

Here is a list of federal holidays: 

Aside from the abovementioned holidays, the government also recognizes Presidential Inauguration Day (January 20 or January 21 if the 20th falls on a Sunday) every four years as a paid federal holiday. This is only for employees who work in the Washington D.C. area. 

Are private-sector employers required to pay for time off during federal holidays?

According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers are not required to pay employees for time that is not worked. These include federal holidays. Private-sector employers have several options regarding federal holidays:

The decision will depend on the agreement between the employer and employees and the existing company policy on federal holidays. For employees, it is important to ask about holidays, time off, and other policies on federal holidays before signing an employment contract or starting work. 

Most private organizations include federal holidays in their paid time off or PTO policy. However, for institutions or industries where closing for a federal holiday is not possible, companies can offer holiday pay. Examples of such industries are the healthcare and hospitality industries. Although private sector companies are not legally required to offer holiday pay for employees working on a federal holiday, many companies do so as part of their policy. 

Discuss any questions on federal holidays and holiday pay policies before accepting a job offer. Asking will save you from unnecessary confusion and disappointment. 

What if a federal holiday falls on a weekend? 

In case a federal holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, government employees can take a day off on the workday immediately before or after the federal holiday. 

For example, if a federal holiday falls on a Sunday, they can get an “in lieu” holiday on the Monday after the holiday. If a federal holiday falls on a Saturday, they can get an “in lieu” holiday on Friday immediately before the federal holiday. 

Are federal holidays the same as National Holidays and Public Holidays? 

Federal holidays are recognized by the U.S. government. While some people use the terms “federal holiday” and “national holiday” interchangeably, they are technically not the same. The United States does not have any national or public holidays. 

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