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2024 Federal Holidays: A Complete Guide for Small Businesses

A comprehensive list of federal holidays in 2024, the difference between federal and non-federal holidays, and how small businesses can prepare.

November 13th, 2023

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In the United States, there are eleven federal holidays that are specified by the United States Congress in Title V of the United States Code. These holidays are applicable to all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Here is a list of all federal holidays, when they occur in 2024, and what they commemorate.

What Are the 11 Federal Holidays in the United States?

New Year's Day

January 1 - This holiday commemorates the start of the Gregorian calendar.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

The third Monday in January - This holiday celebrates the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was a pivotal figure in the Civil Rights Movement.

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George Washington's Birthday

The third Monday in February - Also known as Presidents’ Day, this holiday celebrates the birthday of George Washington, who was the first President of the United States.

Memorial Day

The last Monday in May - This holiday honors those who have died while serving in the US Armed Forces.

Juneteenth

June 19 - The newest federal holiday celebrates the emancipation of slaves in the US. It's also known as "Freedom Day" and marks the announcement of General Order No. 3 by Union Army General Gordon Granger on June 19, 1865 - which declared freedom for all enslaved people throughout Texas.

Having a team consisting of different faiths, and several living abroad, we have also observed several cultural holidays that allow our staff to celebrate with their families without utilizing their vacation days.

I believe this boosts morale in our company's culture as all can learn about their team member's culture and benefit from it as well. If a team member works from home on a day that we are closed, that choice is left up to them, but there are no scheduled team meetings on federal holidays.

LT Ladino
CEO & Founder, vCandidates.com

Independence Day

July 4 - This holiday commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, which announced that the 13 American colonies were no longer under British rule.

Labor Day

The first Monday in September - This holiday celebrates workers and their contributions to society.

Indigenous Peoples' Day/Columbus Day

The second Monday in October - Although this holiday celebrates Christopher Columbus' arrival to America, many people now use this day to celebrate indigenous cultures.

Veterans Day

November 11 - This holiday honors all military veterans who have served our country.

Thanksgiving Day

The fourth Thursday in November - This holiday celebrates the harvest and is typically spent with family and friends enjoying a large feast.

Christmas Day

December 25 - Traditionally, this holiday celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. The holiday is also celebrated by people of other faiths and secular people.

We always give employees federal holidays off because they ensure we’re taking regular breaks. Federal holidays are relatively well-spaced on the calendar, giving our team at least one guaranteed day off every 1-3 months. They happen often enough to provide significant motivation—knowing our next 4-day week is coming soon helps get us through the daily challenges.

Federal holidays ensure that employees who book vacation days in one or two chunks still have some built-in breaks throughout the year. They help keep us on track and reduce burnout rates significantly.

Ruben Gamez
CEO & Founder, SignWell

When Are the US Federal Holidays in 2024?

In 2024,  the 11 federal holidays will fall on the following dates:

  • New Year's Day: Monday, January 1 

  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day: Monday, January 15

  • George Washington's Birthday: Monday, February 19

  • Memorial Day: Monday, May 27

  • Juneteenth: Wednesday, June 19

  • Independence Day: Thursday, July 4th

  • Labor Day: Monday, September 2

  • Indigenous Peoples' Day/Columbus Day: Monday, October 14

  • Veterans Day: Monday, November 11th

  • Thanksgiving Day: Thursday, November 28

  • Christmas Day: Wednesday, December 25th

What's the Difference Between Federal and Non-Federal Holidays?

Many people don't actually know the difference between federal and non-federal holidays. But it's really pretty easy to understand.

Federal holidays are set by the United States government and apply to all federal employees.

Non-federal holidays, like Valentine's Day, Easter, Mother's Day, Father's Day, and Halloween, are not set by the government and do not have to be observed by federal employees. However, many businesses choose to close on certain non-federal holidays.

The main difference between federal and non-federal holidays is that federal holidays are mandatory for federal employees while non-federal holidays are not. This means that federal employees are entitled to a paid day off on every federal holiday (with some exceptions).

Generally speaking, most employers are not required to provide paid time off for holidays, federal or otherwise. However, they may choose to do so as a benefit for their employees.

We have a pretty long list of corporate holidays including federal holidays, an annual shutdown in the last week of the year, and sometimes even the Friday before a Monday holiday.

As a company founded with work-life integration as a key part of our foundation, especially work-life integration for working parents (as our CEO was) and those with other caregiving needs, we've found this to be a way to help offset a day when schools are closed.

Also, caregiving services may charge additional fees due to holiday pay/overtime, and across the board, regardless of the situation, it gives folks time to refresh, recharge, and renew, along with others who may also have their time off.

We've actually expanded our company holidays because of employee feedback in the past, which has been well-received by our folks and continues to allow us to walk our talk!

Patrick Ward, Manager
Talent Acquisition, Halloran Consulting Group, Inc.

How Should Small Businesses Prepare for Federal Holidays?

Federal holidays can be a great time for small business owners and employees to take a break, relax, and enjoy time with family and friends. But before they can do that, they need to make sure the business is prepared for the holiday season. Here are a few tips on how to do just that.

Create a Holiday Schedule

The first step is to create a schedule of which holidays the business will be closed. This will help to plan for staffing needs and make sure everyone is on the same page. To do this, HR teams can simply create a list of all the federal holidays and work with leadership to determine which days they want the business to be closed.

Keep in mind that not all businesses have to close for every holiday; some businesses choose to remain open on certain holidays like Memorial Day or Labor Day.

Communicate the Plan With Employees In Advance

It's critical to have a conversation with employees about the upcoming federal holidays, and whether they will have time off or not. If anyone has holiday plans that conflict with the days the business will be open, HR teams should try to accommodate by giving them the day off in advance or arranging for someone to cover their shift.

Plan for Staffing Needs

Once HR knows which days the business will be closed, they can start planning for staffing needs. If they have employees who are willing and able to work during the holidays, great! If not, it may be time to offer overtime or hire temporary workers. Either way, it's important to start planning early and avoid last-minute scrambling.

Besides unlimited PTO, we also give our employees the day off for federal holidays. This allows them to spend time with their loved ones and honor their cultural traditions and national holidays without worrying about missing work or coming in late after a long weekend.

We believe that it's important to support our employees' well-being both at home and at work. We want to make sure that they're able to take time off when they need it, while still being able to focus on their work responsibilities.

Linda Shaffer
Chief People Operations Officer, Checkr

Can Businesses Require Employees to Work On Federal Holidays?

Many new HR professionals wonder if their business is required to give employees time off on federal holidays. The short answer, surprisingly, is no. While many private businesses opt to close their doors on federal holidays, there's no law mandating that they do so. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when considering having employees work on a federal holiday.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), there is no law mandating that private-sector employers must provide their employees with either paid or unpaid time off for holidays. However, many employers choose to do so as a way to show appreciation for their employees and to encourage employee morale and retention.

While the FLSA does not mandate that employers provide paid or unpaid holiday leave, there are some exceptions and considerations. For instance, in Rhode Island, employees who work on Sundays and holidays must be paid time and a half for the work performed. In addition, some employers may be required to provide paid holiday leave as part of a collective bargaining agreement.

Holidays are a chance for team members to spend time with their families, catch up on sleep, or simply enjoy a hobby. Teams that get adequate time off are happier, healthier, and more productive employees. There is a marked improvement in my team's quality of work immediately after the holidays.

Providing PTO for federal holidays also helps our company with employee retention. Many of our staff members have been with us for several years, and we have a great personal relationship besides our professional one.

Dustin Ray
Co-CEO & Chief Growth Officer, IncFile

What Non-Federal Holidays Do Businesses Usually Give Employees Off?

Many private businesses close on federal holidays, but what about other holidays? While it's not required, some employers choose to give their employees paid time off (PTO) on certain days throughout the year. According to a recent survey, 74% of American workers said it’s very important that employers provide paid time off for holidays, while a quarter of these workers don’t get any paid holidays!

A few non-federal holidays that a business may allow employees to take off include:

Good Friday

Friday, March 29, 2024: This is a religious holiday observed by people around the world. Many businesses choose to give their employees the day off work as well.

Easter Sunday

Sunday, March 31, 2024: Marks the end of the Lenten season of fasting. While many salaried employees already have this day off, some businesses choose to close to allow hourly employees to spend time with family.

Rosh Hashanah

Wednesday, October 2 through Friday, October 4, 2024: This Jewish high holiday celebrates the new year of the Hebrew calendar. Some places of business have modified hours during Rosh Hashanah so those who observe the holiday can attend synagogue, spend time with family, and enjoy special meals.

Christmas Eve

Tuesday, December 24, 2024: Many businesses close early on Christmas Eve so that employees can spend time with their families.

New Year's Eve

Tuesday, December 31, 2024: Some businesses close early on New Year's Eve so that employees can celebrate the new year with their families and friends.

Providing paid holidays is a best practice in many industries, including ours. For us, providing federal holidays as paid time off is a company benefit that allows employees to relax, spend time with loved ones and disconnect from work.

Our company recognizes the importance of taking time off from work, and it has a direct correlation to wellness, mental health, and productivity. We also provide employees with their birthday as a holiday. I'd encourage more organizations to offer paid federal holidays.

Brittney Simpson
HR Operations Manager, Walker Miller Energy Services

What Are Some Fun Employee Engagement Opportunities For Federal Holidays?

Holidays are a great time for HR teams to get creative with their employee engagement efforts. From decorating contests to potluck lunches, there are lots of ways to make the most of federal holidays and show employees some holiday cheer.

Remember: engaged employees are more productive, and they are more likely to stick around at a company for the long haul. Here are a few favorite employee engagement ideas for HR teams to use during federal holidays.

Decorating Contest

One of the most popular employee engagement ideas during the holidays is to have a decorating contest. Employees can compete individually or in teams to see who can come up with the most festive holiday display. To add an element of fun, the company can offer prizes for the winning entries. This is a great way to get everyone in the holiday spirit and add some friendly competition to the mix.

Potluck Lunch

Another great way to engage employees during the holidays is to have a potluck lunch. This is a fun opportunity for employees to share their favorite holiday recipes and dishes with their colleagues. To make things even more festive, HR can set up a holiday-themed photobooth for employees to use before or after they enjoy their meal. This is a great way to build team morale and give everyone a chance to relax and enjoy each other's company.

Seasonal Gift Exchange

A seasonal gift exchange is another fun way to engage employees during the holidays. Employees can draw names from a hat and then purchase or make a small gift for their recipient. This is a great way to spread some holiday cheer and get everyone involved in the festivities. Plus, it's always fun to see what people come up with for their secret gifts!

Plan a Holiday Party

Holiday parties are a great opportunity to show employees how much the business appreciates them. HR should make it fun and festive, and be sure to include plenty of food and drinks. Bonus points if there's an interactive element, like having a holiday-themed scavenger hunt or white elephant gift exchange.

Give Out Holiday Bonuses

Who doesn't love getting a little extra money during the holidays? If the budget allows, businesses should consider giving out holiday bonuses to employees. HR can also get creative with this and come up with other types of rewards that will be appreciated, such as gift cards or extra vacation days.

Holiday Card-Making Activity

Finally, one last fun employee engagement idea for the holidays is to have a holiday card-making activity. Employees can get together to design and create holiday cards that can be sent out to clients, customers, and other business associates. This is a great way to get everyone involved in the holiday spirit while also promoting the business. Plus, it's always nice to receive a handwritten card in the mail!

Ensuring our employees have federal holidays aligns with our core company values of being curious and open-minded.Having those days off allows our team to go out into the world, discuss what they do with others and potentially network over the holidays. Employees come back more energetic and open to new ideas and work, or better yet, share new ideas they've learned over the holiday to improve our business.

Jarir Mallah
HR Specialist, Ling App

So, what do you do as a business when it comes to the federal holidays? There is no law mandating that private employers must give employees time off, but many businesses choose to provide paid or unpaid leave as a way of showing their appreciation for their employees. This can be done in a variety of ways, from simply giving employees mental health days to hosting events and activities that engage with them and show how much the company cares.

If you're looking for ideas on how to celebrate the holidays with your team, take a tour of GoCo. Our easy-to-use HR software will help you manage employee time and engagement easily and effectively.

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