Federal Holidays and How They Are Paid


The Balance / Hilary Allison

The federal government provides employees with 11 paid holidays each year. Inauguration Day is a federal holiday every four years. Private sector employers may provide these holidays off with pay, holidays off without pay, or holiday pay for working on a holiday, but they are not necessarily required to offer any of these options.

It depends on the employer's company policy regarding holiday pay, because federal law doesn't require payment for time not worked. However, depending on where you live, your state may mandate paid holidays.

Review a list of federal holidays, dates each holiday will be observed in 2022 and 2023, information on holiday time off and compensation, extra holiday days off from work, and when you may have to work on a designated holiday.

Key Takeaways

  • Federal government employees get 11 paid holidays each year and Inauguration Day every four years.
  • Private sector employers are generally not required to close for holidays or to pay overtime or holiday pay.
  • Some states have laws that regulate employees working on holidays and holiday pay.

List of Federal Holidays

The following is a list of holidays observed by the federal government:

  • New Year's Day (January 1)
  • Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. (Third Monday in January)
  • Washington's Birthday (Third Monday in February)
  • Memorial Day (Last Monday in May)
  • Juneteenth National Independence Day (June 19)
  • Independence Day (July 4)
  • Labor Day (First Monday in September)
  • Columbus Day (also observed as Indigenous Peoples Day) (Second Monday in October)
  • Veterans Day (November 11)
  • Thanksgiving Day (Fourth Thursday in November)
  • Christmas Day (December 25)

In addition, Inauguration Day is a paid federal holiday every four years. It is celebrated on January 20th or the 21st if the 20th is a Sunday.

Independence Day is typically called the “4th of July.” Washington's birthday is designated as such, even though the holiday is commonly known as Presidents Day.

Dates of Federal Holidays for 2022

Here's a list of the dates federal holidays are observed in 2022.

  • New Year's Day (Friday, December 31)
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Monday, January 17)
  • Washington's Birthday (Monday, February 21)
  • Memorial Day (Monday, May 30)
  • Juneteenth (Monday, June 20)
  • Independence Day (Monday, July 4)
  • Labor Day (Monday, September 5)
  • Columbus Day (Monday, October 10) (also observed as Indigenous Peoples Day)
  • Veterans Day (Friday, November 11)
  • Thanksgiving (Thursday, November 24)
  • Christmas Day (Monday, December 26)

Dates of Federal Holidays for 2023

Here's a list of the dates federal holidays are observed in 2023.

  • Monday, January 2 (New Year’s Day)
  • Monday, January 16 (Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.)
  • Monday, February 20 (Washington’s Birthday)
  • Monday, May 29 (Memorial Day)
  • Monday, June 19 (Juneteenth National Independence Day)
  • Tuesday, July 4 -Independence Day)
  • Monday, September 4 (Labor Day)
  • Monday, October 9 (Columbus Day) (also observed as Indigenous Peoples Day)
  • Friday, November 10 (Veterans Day)
  • Thursday, November 23 (Thanksgiving Day)
  • Monday, December 25 (Christmas Day)

Observation Days on a Weekend

Federal law establishes these public holidays for federal employees. When a holiday falls on a weekend, the holiday usually is observed on Monday (if the holiday falls on Sunday) or Friday (if the holiday falls on Saturday).

State Laws

State and local laws may have different guidelines, so check with the state department of labor in your location for information on holiday leave and pay requirements.

Private Sector Holidays

In most states, private companies are not required to close for holidays, or to pay overtime or holiday pay to their employees for working on a holiday. Even if they do close, they are not legally required to compensate workers with paid time off (PTO). However, companies may have policies that provide for holiday pay or paid time off.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that paid holidays were available to 79% of workers in 2021.

How Will You Know What Holidays You're Entitled To?

If the company doesn't explain its holiday policy during an interview, it is important to ask when you get a job offer.


Become familiar with the company's policy on holidays, so you know your holiday benefits before you accept the job and sign the employment contract, rather than after the fact.

You don't want to be surprised when a holiday rolls around, and you're asked to work.

Employment Status and PTO

Sometimes your work status determines whether you will be eligible for paid holidays by a private company. Full-time workers and/or workers with seniority are more likely to be allowed paid holidays than part-time employees. Levels of seniority may also determine how many paid holidays your employer is willing to give you each year.

Check with the Human Resources department for a list of paid (or unpaid) holidays at your company. Ideally, these should be clearly explained in an official employee handbook or online.


The reason that holiday pay and time off aren't mandated is because the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) (also called the “Wage and Hour Bill”) does not require payment for time not worked, such as vacations or holidays.

Holiday benefits are generally an arrangement between an employer and an employee, as part of company policy, or as a negotiated agreement between the company and the employee's representative, e.g., a union or other collective bargaining unit.

Will You Be Asked to Work?

Some workers are more likely than others to be asked to work on a federal holiday, including shift workers, emergency personnel, and those in the healthcare, retail, and service industries.

Although there are no legally mandated holidays, paid or otherwise, for these and other non-federal workers, employees who have to work because their industry doesn't stop for holidays often have resources at their disposal.

For instance, many hospitals have policies that require medical staff to work either Christmas or Thanksgiving, but not both.

Furthermore, some organizations will offer holiday pay (time and a half, a bonus, or some other incentive/reward), even though they're not required to do so.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are employers required to pay employees holiday pay?

Federal and state governments provide paid holidays. In the private sector, most employers (79%) do pay for holidays, but they aren't obligated to unless state or local law or an employment contract provides for paid holidays.

How do I know if I will receive holiday pay?

To find out where you stand in terms of holidays, you'll need to check your employee manual or talk to Human Resources or your manager. It's perfectly reasonable to want to know when you'll be expected to be at work so that you can make your own plans or coverage requests.

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The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. OPM.gov. "Fact Sheet: Federal Holidays - Work Schedules and Pay."

  2. U.S. Department of Labor. "Holiday Pay."

  3. Paycor. "Is Holiday Pay Mandatory In Your State?"

  4. OPM.gov. "Policy, Data, Oversight: Pay & Leave, 2023."

  5. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Employee Benefits in the United States News Release."

  6. U.S. Department of Labor. "Questions and Answers About the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)."

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