Federal holidays in the United States are calendar dates that are designated by the U.S. government as holidays. On U.S. federal holidays, non-essential federal government offices are closed and federal they pay government employees for the holiday.
There are a total of 11 federal holidays.
The United States Congress designates federal holidays in Title V of the United States Code (5 U.S.C. § 6103).
Congress only has the authority to create holidays for federal institutions (including federally owned properties), employees, and the District of Columbia.
Although not required, as a general rule of courtesy, other institutions, such as banks, businesses, schools, and the stock market may be closed on federal holidays.
In various parts of the country, states and city they may observe concurrently holidays with federal holidays.
What Does it Mean for a Holiday to be “Federal”?
Holidays aren’t all the same. Some are federal, some are religious, and some are meaningless (you might have heard of National Pie Day or National Chocolate-Covered Cherry Day.)
As an employer, the most important 2021 holidays to know will be federal holidays. Federal Holidays are holidays that law has established (5 U.S.C. 6103).
Government offices and banks are closed in observance of these holidays.
Because the U.S. has deemed these specific days federal holidays, it encourages other businesses to also close so that observance of that particular holiday can be experienced by all.
What Are the Dates For Federal Holidays in 2022?
This year, the federal holidays in the United States fall on the following dates:
2022 Federal Holidays
New Year’s Day – Saturday, January 1, 2022
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – Monday, January 17, 2022
President’s Day – Monday, February 21, 2022
Memorial Day – Monday, May 30, 2022
Juneteenth (observed) – Friday, June 18, 2022
Juneteenth – Saturday, June 19, 2022
Independence Day – Monday, July 4, 2022
Labor Day – Monday, September 5, 2022
Columbus Day – Monday, October 10, 2022
Veterans Day – Friday, November 11, 2022
Thanksgiving Day – Thursday, November 24, 2022
Christmas Day – Sunday, December 25, 2022
Christmas Day (observed) – Monday, December 26, 2022
New Year’s Eve (observed) – Friday, December 31, 2022
What Were the 2021 U.S. Federal Holidays?
In 2021, the federal holidays in the United States fell on the following dates:
Friday, January 1 – New Year’s Day
Monday, January 18 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
Monday, February 15 – President’s Day
Monday, May 31 – Memorial Day
Friday, June 18 – Juneteenth (observed)
Saturday, June 19 – Juneteenth
Sunday, July 4 – Independence Day
Monday, July 5 – Independence Day (observed)
Monday, September 6 – Labor Day
October 11, Monday – Columbus Day
Thursday, November 11 – Veterans Day
Thursday, November 25 – Thanksgiving Day
Friday, December 24 – Christmas Day (observed)
Saturday, December 25 – Christmas Day
Friday, December 31 – New Year’s Day (observed)
One thing that is important to note is that some federal holidays are on the same date every year, while others will be on the same day, but on a different date. For example, Thanksgiving Day is always on the fourth Thursday in November.
What are the Dates for Federal Holidays in 2023?
Next year, the federal holidays in the United States fall on the following dates:
2023 Federal Holidays
2023 Holiday Schedule
Monday, January 2*
New Year’s Day
Monday, January 16
Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Monday, February 20**
Monday, May 29
Monday, June 19
Juneteenth National Independence Day
Tuesday, July 4
Monday, September 4
Monday, October 9
Friday, November 10*
Thursday, November 23
Monday, December 25
Key Takeaways for Holiday Calendar Business Planning
You can count on federal holidays being on these days every year:
New Year’s Day (January 1)
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (Third Monday in January)
There are no federal holidays in April. The longest gap without a federal holiday is between Washington’s Birthday in February and Memorial Day at the end of May. This is just over 3 months between holidays.
What Federal Holidays are in October?
There is just one federal holiday in October: Columbus Day. Columbus Day is on the second Monday of October which falls between October 8th and October 14th.
This holiday honors Christopher Columbus.
In some places in the U.S., this holiday is instead used to celebrate Indigenous Peoples. Columbus Day is one of the two federal holidays on which the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) does not close.
What Federal Holidays are in November?
There are two federal holidays in November:
Veteran’s Day (November 11th)
Thanksgiving Day (the Fourth Thursday of November)
What Federal Holidays are in December?
December has just one federal holiday: Christmas Day. This is the only federal holiday with any religious affiliation and therefore has been contentious.
In years when January 1st (New Year’s Day) is on a Saturday, the holiday is observed on a preceding day (December 31st). As a result, December 2021 will have two federal holidays.
Federal vs. Religious Holidays
The U.S. recognizes only one religious holiday as a federal holiday – Christmas Day. All other religious holidays aren’t recognized as federal holidays.
As an employer, it is important to note that by law; you have an obligation to make reasonable accommodations for employees celebrating religious holidays.
For example, Muslim employees may wish for time off to celebrate either of their 2 major religious holidays: Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha.
To accommodate this, many employers offer a floating holiday, in which an employee receives any day off that can be used to celebrate their religious holidays.
Does your State Celebrate Other Holidays?
Certain U.S. states have their own state-wide holidays that are observed by state governments and banks. Some of these include:
Nevada’s Nevada Day – the last Friday in October of every year
Georgia’s Founding Day – a holiday that celebrates its founding on February 12, 1733
Wisconsin has several – Casimir Pulaski Day on March 4, and Robert La Follette Sr. Day on June 14
Hawaii Native Royalty – March 26 and June 11
Do I Have to Give Employees Time Off on Federal Holidays?
As an employer, you do not have to give employees federal holidays off, unless you’re a financial institution or government entity.
Currently, there is no federal law that requires employers to give their workers a holiday off of work. It’s usually done at the employer’s merit (except for banks and government.)
While not required, there are many benefits to employers to offer paid time off to employees on federal holidays.
The biggest being that it aids in attracting and retaining top talent, and contributes to job satisfaction. It can offer more good than harm, and all it takes to accommodate is a little looking and planning ahead.
With the great resignation upon us, doing everything you can to keep your employees happy, motivated and from leaving is critical. Paid Holidays are the minimum standard, be sure you are at least offering that as a workplace benefit.
Can Federal Employees Receive Paid Leave for Religious Holidays?
Federal employees are permitted to modify their work schedules to accommodate religious observances that require them to abstain from work during regular working hours.
Common examples of this are Jewish employees taking off for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur or Muslim employees taking off work for Eid Ul-Fitr.
When an employee takes off work for religious observance, they are required to make up the time or take personal leave.
The hours worked in lieu of a regular working schedule may not entitle the employee to premium pay (for working on a weekend or overtime).
Employees are required to provide a written request for schedule adjustment. The request must state the schedule adjustment is for a religious holiday and must state when the time will be made up.
Supervisors are required to approve religious leave unless the adjusted schedule would “interfere with the efficient accomplishment of the agency’s mission.”
Note: Federal holidays are supposed to be non-religious. Christmas is the only federal holiday directly related to religion. There have been objections to this in the past, but changes are unlikely.
Which Days are Federal Holidays?
Is Inauguration Day a Federal Holiday?
On Inauguration Day, federal employees who work in Washington, D.C.; Montgomery County, MD; Prince George’s County, MD; Arlington County, VA; Fairfax County, VA; Arlington City, VA; or Fairfax City, VA.
And who are regularly scheduled to work that day receive paid administrative leave?
Inauguration day is January 20th each fourth year (2013, 2017, 2021, 2025, etc). January 20, 2013, was a Sunday so no one received paid time off then.
Is the day after Thanksgiving a Federal Holiday?
No, the day after Thanksgiving (often called Black Friday) is not a federal holiday. Federal employees must use accrued personal time to take off the day after Thanksgiving if they wish to be off work.
Note: The New York Stock Exchange observes an abbreviated day of trading on the day after Thanksgiving, closing at 1:30pm instead of 4:00pm as normal.
When Christmas falls on a Tuesday, it is common for the president to issue an executive order giving federal employees paid administrative leave on the Monday before (Christmas Eve).
President Trump did this on December 24, 2018.
President George W. Bush did this in 2001 and 2007. President Barack Obama did the same in 2012. In 2014, Christmas was on a Thursday and President Obama gave federal employees off on Friday, December 26th, the day after Christmas.
On Thursday, December 24, 2020, President Trump declared a federal holiday. In President Trump’s remarks, he made it sound like Christmas Eve was permanently a federal holiday.
That is not the case.
Only for 2020 was it a holiday. Trump’s remarks also made it sound like he was the first president to declare Christmas Eve a holiday. This is also untrue. George W. Bush and Barack Obama did the same thing.
Is it a Holiday When a President Dies?
Most federal employees are off work when the president declares a National Day of Mourning. This has happened every time a sitting or past president has died since the 1950s.
On a National Day of Morning federal employees will receive paid leave.
Essential personnel still have to work but they will receive premium pay (x1.5) plus a future day of administrative leave. The Post Office will also be closed on a National Day of Morning.
At the time of writing this, the living former presidents are Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.
The last president to pass away was George H.W. Bush. He died on November 30, 2018, and they observed a National Day of Mourning on Wednesday, December 5, 2018.
This holiday commemorates the day when the last African America slaves in the United States were informed of their freedom in 1865.
If New Year’s Day falls on a Saturday, the preceding day will be observed as a federal holiday. This will occur on January 1st, 2022.
That year January will only have one holiday and the preceding December will have a holiday on December 31st, 2021. In 2023, January 1st is a Sunday so the holiday will be observed on January 2nd.
Are Federal Employees Paid on Federal Holidays?
Yes, if a federal employee is regularly scheduled to work on a federal holiday, then they receive paid time off.
If an employee is deemed “essential” and cannot take off for a holiday they will receive premium pay. Military personnel are paid by salary and get paid the same amount whether they work 365 days per year or 2.
Are all Federal Employees off Work on Federal Holidays?
All non-essential employees are off on federal holidays. It is up to an employee’s supervisor to determine if a position is essential.
Essential personnel will receive premium pay during the holiday plus a future day of administrative leave.
Are Armed Forces off for Federal Holidays?
The schedule for military personnel varies by unit. Soldiers should always confirm with their local chain of command whether they have a federal or training holiday.
Holidays are not guaranteed. They pay military personnel the same whether they work 365 days per year or 2.
What is “Early Release” Before Federal Holidays?
Supervisors may authorize an early release or late open due to weather, emergency situations, or before holidays.
Early releases or late opens vary by location and are not government-wide or agency-wide like federal holidays.
There are eleven Federal Holidays recognized by the United States Government. These days, all non-essential government employees are off work, and most government offices (including post offices) are closed.
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