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President Gives Federal Workers a Small Gift

By Ephrat Livni, Esq. on December 22, 2015 11:57 AM

Presents from the President at Christmas time are particularly touching. Federal workers love them because they come in the form of an executive order for time off.

In fact, some federal workers petitioned for the very gift the President ended up giving them. Or close. He did fall short. President Obama announced that he was giving federal workers a half day on Christmas Eve, or December 24, according to Fortune.

A Gift Horse

Who can blame federal workers who complain or look a gift horse in the mouth? The workers petitioned to have a full day off on December 24, as has happened before.

During his two terms in office, Obama has issued orders to allow the day before or after Christmas off. But it has been based on the calendar, it seems, where in the week a holiday falls, and not just on Presidential whim. Last year Obama gave federal workers a full day off on December 26, which was a Friday. In 2012, the 24th of December was a Monday and federal workers got that full day off and paid.

The petition requesting the full day off, which did not receive the requisite number of votes, stated that paid holidays mean a lot to government workers facing pay freezes and shutdowns, "We feel unappreciated ... Being with our relatives is so important during this time and would mean everything," the petition stated.

Private Sector Holiday Work

As many workers are well aware, however, there is no entitlement to paid time off in the private sector. While federal employees will get Christmas off and even the half-day before to prepare without forgoing pay, those who work for a private employer, however, will not. Private workers are not entitled to any paid holidays, unless they are negotiated in an employment contract or part of a collective bargaining agreement. Private workers are also not entitled to extra pay on holidays unless that is part of a deal struck.

If you have questions about how to handle employee holidays or any other aspect of business operations, speak to a lawyer. Counsel can let you know your options and obligations and help you make decisions that work for your business.

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