President Trump has granted a full day off with pay for most federal employees for next Thursday, December 24, creating a four-day weekend with the Christmas Day federal holiday on the following day.
An executive order issued late Friday follows the common practice of giving additional time off around the Christmas Day holiday except when the holiday is observed on a Monday (that is, when the 25th falls on that day or the previous day).
A grant of a full day off most commonly has occurred when the holiday falls on a Tuesday or a Thursday, to create a four-day weekend; when the 25th falls on a Saturday, a Wednesday or on a Friday—as it does this year—the most common practice has been to grant only a half-day off (on the Friday, Tuesday or Thursday, respectively).
However, in providing a full day off on Tuesday the 24th last year, Trump set what personnel officials called at the time a potential new precedent that any grant of time off will be for a the entire day regardless of the day of the week. For this year, at least, that proved to be the case.
The order says that OPM is to “take such actions as may be necessary to implement this order.” That typically comes in the form of a memo which OPM has not yet issued; however those policies are virtually the same each time:
* Employees required to work “reasons of national security, defense, or other public need” receive holiday pay, doubling their salaries.
* Those who had been scheduled to work that day but who are excused receive the pay they normally would have received for working, with no charge to any form of leave.
* Those who had been scheduled to be on annual leave or other paid leave that day—which likely is a large number—will not be charged for the leave. Those in a “use or lose” situation with their annual leave would need to reschedule the day and take it before the end of the current leave year—January 4, in most cases—or else lose it.
* Those whose work schedules didn’t include that day receive an “in lieu of” day off, which typically is the last scheduled workday before the excused absence day.
The OPM guidance also addresses several less common situations, such as employees on travel, or using a comp day under an alternative work schedule.