Prospects for Extra Holiday Time Off Not Looking Good

As commonly happens at this time of year, some federal employees have started asking whether they will get time off without charge to leave around the holidays. While there is no definitive answer yet, chances appear to be low this year because Christmas Day falls on a Monday, which will be the holiday day off.

Presidents have discretion whether to grant time off or not. A grant of a full day most commonly has been done to create a four-day weekend when Christmas Day fell on, and the holiday was observed on, a Tuesday or a Thursday. In recent times, presidents also have given employees a half-day off when Christmas Day fell on, and the holiday was observed on, a Wednesday or a Friday.

The last time Christmas Day fell on a Monday was 2006 and before that, it was 2000. In neither year were employees granted additional time off. Last year, when Christmas Day fell on a Sunday and the holiday was observed on Monday, President Obama gave employees no additional time off.

Employees wanting to be sure to have additional time off around the holiday might want to go ahead and request annual leave, assuming it is not already too late to do so. Any excused absence granted would substitute for previously scheduled annual leave time, under past practice.

Any announcement of a government-wide grant of time off typically comes around mid-December, and typically gives agencies discretion to decide that certain employees must remain on the job for security or other reasons, with overtime or comp time entitlement. Even if there is no general government-wide order, individual offices might give employees time off under informal practices.

Even in years when extra time off was granted around Christmas, there was no such time off a week later for the New Year’s holiday.