The federal government and all state governments have passed laws designating certain days each year as public holidays. Although there are several days each year that are recognized by the federal government and all state government as holidays, each state recognizes additional days each year that may or may not be recognized by other states.
Although the federal government and state governments have established public holidays, it does not necessarily mean that all employers are required to give employees these days off work or pay employees premium pay for working on the designated holidays. In fact, except for private employers in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, no other states or the federal government require private employers to grant employees time off for any state-designated holidays or pay them extra when they do.
On the other hand, most states and the federal government have laws that require public employers to grant employees leave on some or all public holidays or provide employees extra compensation when they do. However, in a minority of states the law is either silent regarding holiday leave for public employees or specifically delegates the decision regarding holiday leave to a particular state agency.
The following is a list of the days designated by the federal government as public holidays:
- New Year’s Day (January 1)
- Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. (3rd Monday in January)
- Washington’s Birthday (3rd Monday in February)
- Memorial Day (last Monday in May)
- Independence Day (July 4)
- Labor Day (1st Monday in September)
- Columbus Day (2nd Monday in October)
- Veterans Day (November 11)
- Thanksgiving Day (4th Thursday in November)
- Christmas Day (December 25)
For federal employees who work Monday through Friday, if one of the holidays listed above falls on a Saturday, it is observed on the prior Friday. For employees who do not work Monday through Friday, when a public holiday falls on a day when they are not scheduled to work, the workday immediately before the non-scheduled workday is the public holiday for the employee. For federal employees who have posts outside the US, have a basic workweek other than Monday through Friday, and are regularly scheduled to work on Monday, they observe public holidays that typically fall on Monday on the first workday of the workweek in which the holiday falls. US Code 5-6103
Each state has designated its own public holidays. Links to pages listing each state’s public holidays and how they impact private and public employers are listed below: