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Federal holiday calendar confusion

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

For those of you planning ahead to the holiday season, (The Eye already is) you might notice a quirk in the federal holiday calendar.

Turns out New Year's Eve, which falls on a Friday, isn't a federal holiday this year. Technically, it's a federal holiday next year.

Breathe people, breathe. It's just one of the odd quirks of federal personnel policy.

The federal government takes 10 holidays per year (see below) and counts New Year's Day as the first of those holidays. This year New Year's Day fell on Friday, January 1, so federal workers (and private companies in the Washington area that use the federal calendar) had the day off:

2010 Federal Holidays

Friday Jan. 1 New Year's Day
Monday, Jan. 18 Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Monday Feb. 15 President's Day (or "Washington's Birthday" as the government officially calls it)
Monday May 31 Memorial Day
Monday July 5 Independence Day (treated as a holiday for pay and leave purposes)
Monday Sept. 6 Labor Day
Monday Oct. 11 Columbus Day
Thursday Nov. 11 Veteran's Day
Thursday Nov. 25 Thanksgiving Day
Friday Dec. 24 Christmas Day (treated as a holiday for pay and leave purposes)

SOURCE: Office of Personnel Management

2011 Federal Holidays

Friday Dec. 31, 2010 New Year's Day (treated as a holiday for pay and leave purposes)
Monday Jan. 17 Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Monday Feb. 21 President's Day (or "Washington's Birthday" as the government officially calls it)
Monday May 30 Memorial Day
Monday July 4 Independence Day
Monday Sept. 5 Labor Day
Monday Oct. 10 Columbus Day
Friday Nov. 11 Veteran's Day
Thursday Nov. 24 Thanksgiving Day
Monday Dec. 26 Christmas Day (treated as a holiday for pay and leave purposes)

SOURCE: Office of Personnel Management

But next year Jan. 1 falls on a Saturday, which is a non-workday for most federal employees. So Friday Dec. 31 will instead be treated as a holiday (or the "in lieu of" holiday) for New Year's Day.

Confusing, right? Federal personnel policy always is (and the folks who understand it best don't always make it easy for everyone else).

This happens more often than you might realize: This year the federal government gave workers the day off on Monday July 5, the day after Independence Day, which fell on a Sunday. And since the government only recognizes Christmas Day as a federal holiday, this year it will be observed on Friday Dec. 24 and next year on Monday Dec. 26.

Check out the calendars, share them with your friends, start planning your holiday work schedule and leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

Question of the Week: Picking up on something we started Monday -- should federal workers have Columbus Day off? What other person/event deserves to be a federal holiday, if any? E-mail your answers to Please include your full name and hometown and we may use your answers in Friday's Post.

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By Ed O'Keefe  | October 14, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener, Workplace Issues  
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Posted by: oneshopping26 | October 14, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Government is always about process.

Posted by: ronjaboy | October 14, 2010 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Colombia, South America transfers holidays that occur in the middle of the week to friday or monday, creating about 10 to 15 3 day weekends every year...
but then they celebrate catholic religious holidays which we don't...

Posted by: DwightCollins | October 14, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

I don't work for the federal goverment, but this is the same way my office does holidays. I wouldn't really think of it as "confusing." If the actual day of a holiday is a Saturday, we get the day off on Friday. For Sunday, it's transferred to Monday. Pretty basic.

Posted by: DCinND | October 14, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

This is a nonissue since the federal government operates based on a federal fiscal year starting from 10/1-9/30.

The civilain pay operated on the calandar year for tax reasons.

By the way....

the active duty military personnel get more holidays...these are referred to as training days or DONSA days which usually fall on an adjacnet day to a federal holiday like last Friday with Columbus Day on Monday. They also get half days the two weeks of Christmas and a scattering of 4 other training days that could actually be used for training.

An example of this would be a heavy customer service unit like the in and out processing offices or the moving offices on a military base. On one of these DONSA or training days the office will actually go through their annual training seminars on topics like security, sexual harassment, EEO training, as well as other.

Posted by: djp98374 | October 14, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

I want my MTV ... and my holiday! Gimme, Gimme, Gimme!

Posted by: blackforestcherry | October 14, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

The law has been clear for many, many years on the subject of observing holidays when the actual holiday falls on Saturday or Sunday. In such cases, Friday or Monday are the days for observance of legal days off. So what is so new and exciting about the calendar for 2010 or 2011?

This appears to be someone waking up from a long sleep to find out that they didn't understand what everyone else knew. We have far larger issues to concern ourselves with than the possible changes to the holiday schedule, which could result in labor unrest of untold proportions.

Posted by: ronjeske | October 15, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

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