Federal employees across the country are petitioning for an extra day of paid leave for the Christmas holiday.
Two petitions have been launched on the White House’s “We the People” website, each calling for President Obama to grant Thursday, December 24th as a federal holiday. Christmas is on Friday this year, which is already a federal holiday; however, federal workers want to be granted Christmas Eve off as well. If allowed, the holiday would give federal employees a four-day weekend from December 24th through the 27th. The author of the first petition says federal workers deserve an extra paid holiday due to the sinking morale of the federal workforce
The first petition states:
“Federal employees work extremely hard year after year to carry out our mission statement as public servants. Although we are a family at work, giving federal employees Christmas Eve off to spend with their families at home would not only be a wonderful gift from our president but would also boost morale in the workplace and within ourselves. We feel unappreciated with pay freezes and constant threats of government shutdowns. Being with our relatives is so important during this time and would mean everything. Giving federal employees Thursday December 24th off paid, would go a long way in showing that we deserve nothing but the best for our daily contributions in serving the people and would show how much our accomplishments and dedication deserves. Please consider this, sincerely we matter.”
As of Wednesday, December 2nd, the petition had garnered a little over 3,000 signatures, a long way from its goal of 100,000. The petition must obtain 100,000 signatures by December 21st to merit the president’s consideration.
The second petition is short and straightforward, directly asking the President to grant Christmas Eve as a federal holiday. It states:
“Please sign an Executive order declaring December 24, 2015, (Christmas Eve) as a paid holiday for federal employees.”
As of Wednesday, December 2nd, the second petition had raised a little over 1,000 signatures. It must gain 100,000 signatures by December 24th, making it unlikely it will achieve its goal for 2015.
Should you sign one of the petitions? Should the White House grant Christmas Eve as a an additional federal holiday? Or more importantly, do you want another day off if you are a federal worker?
Why Some Are Opposed to Adding an Extra Holiday
Fuels Negative Stereotypes About Federal Workers
While everyone may initially root for an extra day off, there are some arguments against adding an additional federal holiday. This article from FedSmith reports that several federal employees have expressed frustration about the petition asking for an extra paid holiday, saying it portrays a negative persona of federal workers, and contributes to unfavorable stereotypes of the federal workforce.
A Costly Endeavor
An additional concern is the cost. When all federal employees take a day off from work, the government is unproductive, which is a poor return for the investment.
This was the argument opponents used against establishing the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday in the 1980s. According to the National Constitution Center, one opponent in 1983 estimated an annual productivity loss of $225 million from adding an extra holiday,
Adding a Holiday Is Rare
Congress has not changed the federal holiday schedule since 1983, when Martin Luther King Jr. Day was established. There are 10 federal holidays set for 2016:
|Friday, January 1||New Year’s Day|
|Monday, January 18||Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.|
|Monday, February 15||Washington’s Birthday|
|Monday, May 30||Memorial Day|
|Monday, July 4||Independence Day|
|Monday, September 5||Labor Day|
|Monday, October 10||Columbus Day|
|Friday, November 11||Veterans Day|
|Thursday, November 24||Thanksgiving Day|
|Monday, December 26||Christmas Day|
Because Christmas falls on a Sunday in 2016, most federal workers will be granted Monday, December 26th as a holiday for pay and leave purposes.
Interesting Fact: Federal holidays are only legally applicable to federal employees and the District of Columbia.
The majority of states and private organizations recognize several of them, but according to the Library of Congress, “Neither Congress nor the President has asserted the authority to declare a ‘national holiday’ which would be binding on the 50 states.”
The Library of Congress also states that more than 1,100 different proposals have been introduced in Congress since 1870 to establish permanent federal holidays.
According to the National Constitution Center, some recent proposals for national holidays include Election Day (recognized in 11 states), Susan B. Anthony Day and Cesar E. Chavez Day.
Meanwhile, 13 states recognize Christmas Eve as a holiday for state employees, and 23 states recognize the day after Thanksgiving as a holiday.
Both Christmas Eve and Black Friday are significant shopping days for consumers, which brings in additional revenue for states through sales tax.
While the second petition is unlikely to result in any changes, it’ll be interesting to see if the first gains traction before Christmas arrives.
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