2023 Federal Holidays: A Complete Guide for Small Businesses
A comprehensive list of federal holidays in 2023, the difference between federal and non-federal holidays, and how small businesses can prepare.
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 2023, and what they commemorate.
Table of Content
- What Are the 11 Federal Holidays in the United States?
- When Are the US Federal Holidays in 2023?
- Federal vs. Non-Federal Holidays
- How Should Small Businesses Prepare for Federal Holidays?
- Can Businesses Require Employees to Work On Federal Holidays?
- Non-Federal Holidays Businesses May Give Employees Off
- Fun Employee Engagement Opportunities For Holidays
- Add All 2023 Federal Holidays to Your Calendar
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.
Add All 2023 Federal Holidays to Your Calendar
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.
The last Monday in May - This holiday honors those who have died while serving in the US Armed Forces.
June 19 - 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.
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.
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.
November 11 - This holiday honors all military veterans who have served our country.
The fourth Thursday in November - This holiday celebrates the harvest and is typically spent with family and friends enjoying a large feast.
December 25 - Traditionally, this holiday celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. The holiday is also celebrated by people of other faiths and secular people.
When Are the US Federal Holidays in 2023?
In 2023, the 11 federal holidays will fall on the following dates:
New Year's Day: Sunday, January 1 (observed Monday, January 2)
Martin Luther King Jr. Day: Monday, January 16
George Washington's Birthday: Monday, February 20
Memorial Day: Monday, May 29
Juneteenth: Monday, June 19
Independence Day: Tuesday, July 4th
Labor Day: Monday, September 4
Indigenous Peoples' Day/Columbus Day: Monday, October 9
Veterans Day: Sunday, November 11th
Thanksgiving Day: Thursday, November 23
Christmas Day: Monday, 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.
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.
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.
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:
Friday, April 7, 2023: This is a religious holiday observed by people around the world. Many businesses choose to give their employees the day off work as well.
Sunday, April 9, 2023: 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.
Friday, September 15 through Sunday, September 17, 2023: This Jewish high holiday takes place in September and 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.
Sunday, December 24, 2023: Many businesses close early on Christmas Eve so that employees can spend time with their families.
New Year's Eve
Saturday, December 31, 2023: Some businesses close early on New Year's Eve so that employees can celebrate the new year with their families and friends.
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.
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.
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!
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 the day off 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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