Typical Paid Holidays in the US

Paid holidays may differ across employers and sectors

Typical paid holidays in the U.S.

The Balance / Alison Czinkota

Paid holidays are days that employees get off from work and still get paid for. There are several paid holidays that are the most common, but they may differ from employer to employer.

Typical paid holidays include New Year's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, Veterans Day, and Christmas Day. Which days are paid days off can also vary depending on whether the employer is in the public sector or the private sector.

Key Takeaways

  • A paid holiday is a day off work that the employee is still paid for.
  • There are eight paid holidays that are the most common.
  • Which holidays are paid holidays can vary from employer to employer.

What Are Paid Holidays?

Paid holidays give employees a day off work without missing out on pay.

Private employees in the U.S. receive an average of eight paid holidays per year, according to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, with 81% of private industry workers receiving access to paid holidays as of 2021. The number of paid holidays and percentage of workers with access varies from industry to industry.

What Are the Typical Paid Holidays?

These are the most common paid holidays:

  • New Year's Day
  • Easter
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day (4th of July)
  • Labor Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Friday after Thanksgiving
  • Christmas Day

Which holidays are paid holidays vary from employer to employer. The dates of certain holidays can vary sometimes, too.

Holiday Date
New Year's Day January 1
Presidents' Day Third Monday in February
Memorial Day Last Monday in May
Independence Day July 4
Labor Day First Monday in September
Veterans Day November 11
Thanksgiving Day Fourth Thursday in November
Christmas Day December 25

Other Paid Holidays in the US

Some organizations add several other holidays to their paid holiday schedule. Which holidays are added can depend on regional differences and employee feedback over time. The holidays will vary by company, based on the needs of the employees and the needs of the business.

These additional holidays often include:

  • President's Day
  • Good Friday
  • Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Birthday
  • Juneteenth
  • Veterans' Day
  • Columbus Day (also observed as Indigenous Peoples Day)
  • Christmas Eve
  • New Year's Eve

Some organizations also offer paid holidays for the employee's birthday or for Election Day.

Another common paid holiday option is a floating holiday, in which the employee chooses which day to take off as part of their paid holiday schedule. These floating holidays are offered as a way for employees to observe various religious holidays, cultural celebrations, and memorials. It can also be a way for employees to extend paid holiday weekends.

Private Sector Paid Holidays vs. Federal Paid Holidays

There is no law requiring employers to give their workers paid holidays, but many choose to do so. However, private companies that offer paid holidays may still require some employees to work on the holidays. This is especially true in industries that serve customers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The majority of employees who work jobs that must be staffed on holidays are hourly paid positions. As a reward for working the holiday (and to make employees feel better about working on it), these employees often receive additional compensation in the form of time-and-a-half or double-time pay.

For instance, manufacturing jobs may require holiday work when capacity and customer demand require increased production. Healthcare services that provide direct patient care, including nursing, emergency room services, hospital food services, and custodial services, will need some employees to work during holidays. Retail establishments, restaurants, gas stations, drug stores, convenience stores, and grocery stores that are open on holidays will need employees to staff the business on those days. 

Other services require employees to be on call instead, such as physician's offices, telephone services, electric utilities, snow removal workers, and so on. These people may have to depend on a fair on-call schedule to get to plan celebrations on otherwise paid holidays.

Federal law establishes the holiday schedule for federal employees. This law also designates the names of paid holidays, such as Washington's Birthday (known to many as President's Day). Many public sector organizations, such as local and state governments, base their holiday schedule on the federal holiday schedule.

In the U.S., this is the Federal paid holiday schedule:

  • New Year’s Day
  • Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Washington’s Birthday
  • Memorial Day
  • Juneteenth National Independence Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Columbus Day
  • Veterans Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Christmas Day

Most federal employees work a Monday through Friday schedule. Therefore, if a holiday falls on a Saturday, it will usually be observed on the Friday before. If it occurs on a Sunday, it'll be observed the Monday after.

Do Paid Holidays Affect Your Paycheck?

If the paid holiday falls on a payday, it could affect your paycheck. The payroll department may be off and unable to process your paycheck. Also, the Automated Clearing House (ACH) system that processes direct deposits does not operate on bank holidays, which follow the federal holiday schedule.

Your employer might make alternative arrangements to provide your paycheck before the holiday, but they aren't required to.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What holidays do you get paid time and a half?

There is no law that requires your employer to pay you time and a half for working a holiday. However, if an employee works a holiday and it pushes them over the 40-hour threshold for a workweek, they are entitled to overtime pay for the additional hours worked.

How many paid holidays do federal employees get?

Federal employees commonly get 11 paid holidays per year. Juneteenth became the 11th federal holiday to be added to the schedule when it was authorized in June 2021.

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Article Sources

  1. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Holiday Profiles."

  2. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Employee Benefits in the United States – March 2021."

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

  4. U.S. Office of Personnel Management. "Fact Sheet: Federal Holidays - Work Schedules and Pay."

  5. U.S. Office of Personnel Management. "Policy, Data, Oversight: Pay & Leave."

  6. Nacha. "Payments Myth Busting."

  7. U.S. Department of Labor. "Overtime Pay."

  8. GovInfo. "Public Law 117 - 17 - Juneteenth National Independence Day Act."