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California state holidays: An employer’s guide

9 min read
California state holidays

California observes a number of federal and state holidays that employers need to be aware of. These holidays hold cultural significance and mark essential historical events, making them significant celebrations for many employees. Establishing policies and procedures for managing these CA state holidays allows you to plan ahead, ensure adequate staffing, and accommodate employee time-off requests while maintaining business operations.

This article will explore all California state holidays and what they mean for public and private employers. We will also explain what employers need to keep in mind in terms of employee time-off and holiday pay, and how the right tools and technology can help you effectively manage all CA state holidays in your organization.

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Federal holidays 2024 California

There are a number of federal holidays that are observed in California. These days are an opportunity for California residents to celebrate important national and cultural holidays, relax and recharge, and enjoy the many activities that California has to offer.

So, what are they exactly?

Let’s start today’s guide by exploring these California holidays.

Federal Holidays in California 2024:

  • New Year’s Day (Monday, January 1, 2024)
  • Martin Luther King’s Birthday (Monday, January 15, 2024)
  • Presidents’ Day: February 19th (also known as Washington’s Birthday)
  • Memorial Day (Monday, May 27, 2024)
  • Juneteenth (Wednesday, June 19, 2024)
  • Independence Day (Thursday, July 4,2024)
  • Labor Day (Monday, September 2, 2024)
  • Columbus Day (Monday, October 14, 2024)
  • Veterans’ Day (Monday, November 11, 2024)
  • Thanksgiving Day (Thursday, November 28, 2024)
  • Christmas Day (Wednesday, December 25, 2024)

California State Holidays in 2024:

  • César Chávez Day (Monday April 01, 2024)

Other State Holidays in California:

In addition to the above state paid holidays, effective January 1, 2023, the Governor proclaimed the following holidays, which may be taken in lieu of receiving a personal holiday.

  • Lunar New Year​ (​Sunday, February 10th, 2024)
  • Genocide Remembrance Day (Wednesday, April 24​, 2024)
  • Native American Day (Friday, September 27​​, 2024)

These holidays reflect California’s commitment to celebrating cultural diversity, honoring historical figures and events, and acknowledging the contributions of the various communities that have shaped the state’s rich history. Ultimately, they are a time for Californians to come together and celebrate their shared values.

Let’s explore these California state holidays to find out what they are all about.

Lunar New Year

Lunar New Year, also known as the Chinese New Year or Spring Festival, is one of the most significant traditional holidays celebrated by Asian cultures around the world. It marks the beginning of a new year on the Chinese calendar, which is based on the cycles of the moon and the sun.

The date of Lunar New Year varies from year to year. However, it typically falls between January 21 and February 20. In 2023, Lunar New Year was celebrated on January 21. This year, Lunar New Year will fall on February 10, 2024. The celebration of Lunar New Year typically lasts for 15 days, and it is a time for family reunions, feasting, and gift-giving.

The state of California celebrates Lunar New Year in a variety of ways. For instance, many cities and towns hold festivals and events, and businesses often decorate their storefronts with red lanterns and other traditional symbols. In addition, many schools and universities offer classes and programs on Lunar New Year culture and history.

Rosa Parks Day

Rosa Parks Day is a state of CA holiday that honors the life and legacy of Rosa Parks, an influential activist known for her pivotal role in the civil rights movement in the United States. The activist is widely recognized for her courageous act on December 1, 1955, when she refused to give up her bus seat to a white person in Montgomery, Alabama. This act of civil disobedience sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott, a pivotal event in the struggle against racial segregation and discrimination.

In California, Rosa Parks Day is observed on February 4 each year, coinciding with Rosa Parks’ birthday. The holiday serves as an opportunity for the state to reflect on Rosa Parks’ immense bravery and her significant contributions to the advancement of civil rights.

To celebrate, the state organizes various events and activities to educate the public about her life and the historical context of her actions. In addition, many community organizations and cultural centers host exhibits, lectures, and discussions focusing on Rosa Parks’ impact on the civil rights struggle and the ongoing importance of the fight for equality.

César Chávez Day

César Chávez Day is a CA state holiday in 2024 that honors the life and achievements of the prominent labor leader and civil rights activist. The activist co-founded the United Farm Workers (UFW) union and led the movement to improve working conditions and rights for farmworkers in the United States.

In California, César Chávez Day is observed on March 31 each year. The holiday provides an opportunity for the state of California to recognize and celebrate César Chávez’s significant contributions to the labor and civil rights movements, particularly his efforts in advocating for the rights and welfare of agricultural workers, who had long faced exploitative and hazardous working conditions.

The state organizes various events and activities to celebrate this day. In addition, community organizations, cultural centers, and labor unions often host marches, panel discussions, and film screenings that highlight César Chávez’s legacy and the continuing fight for social justice and fair labor practices.

Genocide Remembrance Day

Genocide Remembrance Day is observed on April 24 each year in California to commemorate the victims of genocides worldwide. The date holds particular significance as it marks the anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, which began on April 24, 1915.

On this solemn day, the state of California and its communities come together to remember the millions of lives lost to genocide and to honor the survivors and their resilience. Communities organize various events and ceremonies, including memorial services, candlelight vigils, and educational programs. During these events, community leaders, activists, and survivors share their experiences and stories to foster understanding and empathy among the public. The ultimate aim of Genocide Remembrance Day is to promote peace, tolerance, and human rights while pledging to work toward a world free from the horrors of genocide.


Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, is an important holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. It is celebrated on June 19 each year and holds historical significance as it marks the day in 1865 when Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, and announced the end of slavery, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. In 2021, President Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law, making Juneteenth a federal holiday throughout the United States as well as a California state holiday.

In California, Juneteenth is observed with various events and activities that honor African American history, culture, and achievements. Festivals, parades, and community gatherings are held in cities and towns across the state. These celebrations often feature live music, dance performances, art exhibitions, and cultural presentations to showcase the rich heritage and contributions of African Americans to society.

Moreover, educational programs and discussions often take place to raise awareness of the ongoing struggle for civil rights and racial equality. The holiday serves as a reminder of the progress made and the continued work needed to promote inclusivity, justice, and equal rights for all.

Native American Day

Native American Day, observed on the fourth Friday in September each year, is also included in the list of official state holidays in California. The holiday honors the rich cultural heritage, contributions, and history of Native American tribes and communities in the state.

On Native American Day, California hosts various events and activities throughout the state to celebrate and recognize the diverse cultures and traditions of Native Americans. These activities often include traditional Native American gatherings (powwows) that involve dance, music, storytelling, arts, crafts, and food. These powwows provide an opportunity for Native Americans to come together, share their culture, and educate the broader community about their traditions.

Many museums, cultural centers, and community organizations also organize exhibits and displays that showcase Native American art, artifacts, history, and contemporary contributions. However, celebrations can vary across different regions of California, reflecting the unique cultures and traditions of the various Native American communities in the state.

Day after Thanksgiving

Finally, the Friday after Thanksgiving is a state holiday in a number of states including California, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, and Pennsylvania. On this day, also known as “Black Friday” many businesses and schools remain closed to provide employees and students with an extended weekend.

While not a federal holiday, its designation as a state holiday in some states including California recognizes its cultural significance and acknowledges the tradition of holiday shopping that marks the beginning of the festive season. The day provides an opportunity for people to spend time with family, engage in recreational activities, and enjoy the holiday spirit.

Do employers have to provide time off for California state holidays?

State employers provide time off for CA state holidays to employees who are covered by a collective bargaining agreement that specifies the requirement. This includes employees who are classified as exempt under the FSLA. Exempt employees are typically salaried employees who are not eligible for overtime pay.

State holidays 2024 in California that these public employers observe include:

  • New Year’s Day: January 2 (observed)
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day: January 16
  • Presidents’ Day: February 20
  • Cesar Chavez Day: March 31
  • Memorial Day: May 29
  • Independence Day: July 4
  • Labor Day: September 4
  • Veterans Day: November 10 (observed)
  • Thanksgiving Day: November 23
  • Day after Thanksgiving: November 24
  • Christmas Day: December 25

State holidays 2024 in California that these public employers observe include:

  • New Year’s Day (Monday, January 1, 2024)
  • Martin Luther King’s Birthday (Monday, January 15, 2024)
  • Presidents’ Day: February 19th (also known as Washington’s Birthday)
  • Memorial Day (Monday, May 27, 2024)
  • César Chávez Day (Monday April 01, 2024)
  • Independence Day (Thursday, July 4,2024)
  • Labor Day (Monday, September 2, 2024)
  • Veterans’ Day (Monday, November 11, 2024)
  • Thanksgiving Day (Thursday, November 28, 2024)
  • Day after Thanksgiving: (Friday, November 29, 2024)
  • Christmas Day (Wednesday, December 25, 2024)

Most of these dates are federal holidays that are observed by other states including New York, Massachusetts, Texas, New Jersey, and Florida. In addition, state employers usually offer time off for Cesar Chavez Day and the day after Thanksgiving. However, it is worth noting that Cesar Chavez Day is not observed statewide. Although California state employees get the day off, most school districts, businesses, and federal employees still have to work.

What about private employers?

The vast majority of private employers provide time off for six holidays, commonly known as the “standard six”. These holidays include New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. Many private employers also observe the Friday after Thanksgiving, Good Friday, and Presidents Day.

However, the specific rules for time off for private employees depend on each employer’s leave policy. For example, some employers offer a set number of days of paid leave, while other employers offer unlimited PTO, personal time off, VTO, floating holidays, or flexible time off.

There are also no state laws in California that regulate how employees accrue vacation leave. As a result, employers are free to set their own vacation payout and PTO carry over policies.

Related: California State Employment Laws

What paid holidays are mandatory in California?

State employees in California are generally entitled to paid time off for certain holidays. However, it can depend on the employee’s classification (exempt or non-exempt), contract, or collective bargaining agreement. For example, state employees who are classified as exempt are not entitled to paid time off for holidays, even if the holiday is listed as a paid holiday in California’s Civil Service Code.

Nonetheless, most non-exempt state employees in California are eligible to receive paid time off for designated holidays.

These holidays typically include:

  • New Year’s Day
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday
  • Rosa Parks Day
  • Washington Day
  • César Chávez Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Veterans Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Day After Thanksgiving
  • Christmas Day

In contrast, Columbus Day is not a paid holiday for California state employees.

In addition to the above, the Governor of California proclaimed the following dates as official California state holidays in 2024. However, state employees cannot take these as paid holidays. Instead, they must use a personal day if they want a day off:

  • Lunar New Year: January 22
  • Genocide Remembrance Day​: April 24
  • Juneteenth: June 19​
  • Native American Day: September 22​

Moreover, if state employees works on a holiday, employers must pay them their regular pay rates. They must also compensate them with an additional eight hours of holiday credit.

However, things are a little different for private employees. Unlike other forms of time off like parental leave, holiday pay is not mandatory for private employers in California. Instead, private employers can determine whether they classify these dates as paid holidays or unpaid time off.


Manage time off, timesheets, payroll, and more

Factorial’s HRIS offers businesses a powerful and efficient solution to streamline their HR processes. With its user-friendly interface and cloud-based platform, Factorial simplifies the complexities of managing employee time off, ensuring accurate timesheets and payroll processes.

Some of Factorial’s key features that can help you manage time off for all CA state holidays include:

  • Time off management. Firstly, Factorial allows businesses to easily manage employee time off requests. For instance, employees can submit different types of time off requests directly from the platform. Managers can then approve or deny requests straight from an intuitive leave management system.
  • Timesheet management. Secondly, Factorial makes it easy for employers to track working hours. Employees can clock in and out of work from the Factorial app, and their timesheets are automatically synced to the Factorial dashboard. Managers can then review and approve employee timesheets in a few clicks.
  • Payroll management. In addition, Factorial’s payroll feature streamlines the entire payroll process, automating calculations and tax deductions in line with time-tracking data. By simplifying payroll management, Factorial empowers HR teams to focus on strategic initiatives and employee development rather than getting bogged down in administrative tasks.

Additional benefits of using Factorial:

  • Automated time tracking. For one thing, Factorial can automatically track employee time based on their location, IP address, or device.
  • Real-time reporting. Not only that, but Factorial provides real-time reporting on employee time off. Employers can then use this information to identify trends and make informed decisions about business operations.
  • Mobile app. Finally, Factorial offers a mobile app that allows employees to submit time off requests and view their timesheets from anywhere.

Ultimately, if you are looking for a comprehensive HR software solution that can help your business manage all California state holidays, improve compliance, and increase employee productivity, then Factorial has you covered.

Cat Symonds is a freelance writer, editor, and translator. Originally from Wales, she studied Spanish and French at the University of Swansea before moving to Barcelona where she lived and worked for 12 years. She has since relocated back to Wales where she continues to build her business, working with clients in Spain and the UK.  Cat is the founder of The Content CAT: Content And Translation, providing content development and translation services to her clients. She specializes in corporate blogs, articles of interest, ghostwriting, and translation (SP/FR/CA into EN), collaborating with a range of companies from a variety of business sectors. She also offers services to a number of NGOs including Oxfam Intermón, UNICEF, and Corporate Excellence - Centre for Reputation Leadership.  For more information or to contact Cat visit her website ( or send her a message through LinkedIn.

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