Federal holidays are public holidays created by a country’s federal government and established by law (Federal Law – 5 U.S.C. 6103). In other words, the whole country recognizes these days as holidays. Employees are paid for these holidays and all non-essential federal offices remain closed. This guide and downloadable holiday calendar will detail each holiday and the history behind them.
- US Federal Holidays 2023 – Laws
- 2023 Holiday Calendar: Specific Dates
- 2023 Holiday Calendar
- Difference between federal and religious holidays
- 2023 Holiday Calendar- Private Sector
- Extra Holidays
- Download our holiday calendar template
- Time Off Manager from Factorial ✅
US Federal Holiday Laws
Legally, during federal holidays, employers are not obliged to give their employees time off from work. That is unless the employers work for the government or a financial institution. Furthermore, if employees have a day off, the US does not oblige employers to pay them for their time away. However, most offer it as a perk of working for the company, so to attract top talent and keep employees happy. This has many benefits for companies in the long run.
What if a federal holiday falls on a weekend?
When a federal holiday falls on a Saturday, the holiday is celebrated on Friday, and when it falls on a Sunday, it is taken on a Monday.
2023 Holiday Calendar: Specific Dates
- January 1 (Sunday) – New Year’s Day (observed Monday, January 2)
- January 16 (3rd Monday of January) – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
- February 20 (3rd Monday of February) – President’s Day
- May 29 (Monday) – Memorial Day
- June 19 (Monday)– Juneteenth
- July 4 (Tuesday) – Independence Day
- September 4 (Monday) – Labor Day
- October 9 (Monday) – Columbus Day/ Indigenous People’s Day
- November 10 (Friday) – Veterans Day
- November 23 (Thursday) – Thanksgiving Day
- December 25 (Monday) – Christmas Day
2023 Holiday Calendar: Federal Holidays
New Years Day
New Year’s Day marks the first day of the year according to the modern Gregorian and Julian calendars. This is a national holiday, with 90% of Americans getting the paid day off. Additionally, sometimes employers offer New Year’s Eve as a day off as well.
Martin Luther King Jr Day
This is an American federal holiday. It celebrates the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr, the Baptist minister, and civil rights activist who’s famous for his leadership during the civil rights movement from 1954 until his death in 1968. The day is celebrated on the third Monday of January each year, which is around the date of King’s birthday.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day became a holiday in 1983 under the presidency of Ronald Reagan. At first, not all states initially accepted and observed the holiday. And some states gave it a different name or combined it with other holidays. However, in 2000 it was officially regarded as a holiday by all 50 states. According to a study, in 2019 45% of employees across the USA had the day off. These figures have steadily risen, as 72% of employees had to go to work during this holiday in 2009.
George Washington, the first president of the United States, birthday is a federal holiday. Some states celebrate this day on the third Monday of every February. This celebration is also combined with Presidents Day, so not just celebrate one particular president, but rather the office of the presidency.
All states but 13 grant their employees a paid day off from work. Whereas the 13 that don’t include Georgia, Kentucky, Florida, New Mexico, Delaware, Indiana, Louisiana, Iowa, Ohio, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Rhode Island.
This is a holiday celebrated throughout the USA. It is a federal holiday that commemorates those who have died defending the USA. In light of this, many people spend the day visiting memorials and cemeteries and honoring those who have passed.
According to a study from Bloomberg BNA, 97% of employers have the holiday as a designated paid day off. However, 40% of companies within the US still require their employees to work on this day.
On June 17, 2021, President Joe Biden officially declared Juneteenth as the 11th official federal holiday in the United States. The holiday, which stretches back to the 1800s, commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. The name and specific date refer to June 19, 1865, when slaves in Gavelston, Texas were declared free (2 and a half years after the emancipation proclamation). The name “Juneteenth” is a combination of June and 19. Additionally, this holiday is known as “Emancipation Day” or “Freedom Day”.
Before federal recognition in 2021, several states recognized the holiday. The first of which, Texas, officially acknowledged Juneteenth as an official state holiday in 1980. Now, the nation celebrates Juneteenth, and with it, the celebration of African American culture and history.
This is a holiday celebrated nationally. It marks America’s independence from British colonists. In addition, it marks the birth of America as an individual country. Every year, citizens in the United States celebrate with fireworks, parades, and barbeques.
On this day, all non-essential federal offices close, and 93% of Americans have the day off from work while still getting paid.
This is a holiday celebrated throughout the whole of the United States, with 95% of Americans getting the paid day off. Every year, the day falls on the first Monday of September. Specifically, the day honors the American labor movement and the effort workers have made in contributing to the strength and power of the country.
Columbus Day/ Indigenous People Day
Columbus Day is a federal holiday that celebrates the anniversary of Columbus’ arrival in the Americas (October 12, 1492). Traditionally, this holiday marks the discovery of the Americas. However, more recently many regard it as a day to remember the Indigenous people of the United States and celebrate their rich heritage and culture. However, only 14% of Americans get Columbus Day as a paid day off from work.
Veterans Day is an official holiday in the United States that honors veterans that worked for the United States military. Generally, it is celebrated through parades and church services, with a 2-minute silence held at 11 am. It is a federal and state holiday in every state apart from Wisconsin. Therefore those living in Wisconsin do not automatically get the day off by law.
Thanksgiving is an annual holiday in America that the whole country recognizes. The holiday’s roots go back to a harvest festival celebrated by the Pilgrims in 1621. Today, many spend the day with family and friends and prepare a huge amount of food including, of course, a turkey.
This is the holiday in which the highest number of Americans get a paid day off, ranking at 97% of Americans.
On December 25th, the United States celebrates Christmas and due to this, the majority of US citizens get this holiday off. Christmas is both a religious and cultural annual holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. Families and friends celebrate the holiday by eating together, exchanging gifts, and partaking in religious ceremonies. Additionally, in some states, employers offer Christmas Eve as time off as well. According to a study by The Balance Careers, Christmas Day is the holiday in which the second-highest amount of Americans get a paid day off, ranking at 95% of Americans.
Difference Between Federal and Religious Holidays
As can be seen, Christmas Day is the only religious holiday that the United States officially recognizes. If employees celebrate other religious holidays, for example, Easter or Passover, then their employer may grant them a floating holiday. In other words, an option for employees to select a day off of their choice to celebrate their religious holiday. Legally, as an employer, you must cater as best you can to your employees’ religious holidays.
All Americans generally get the following holidays off from work: New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Juneteenth, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. While generally speaking, the other holidays are floating holidays, this means the employee can choose whether to take the day off or not.
2023 Holiday Calendar- Private Sector
Private companies have no obligation to close for federal holidays or to pay their employees overtime or holiday pay when they work on a holiday. Furthermore, employers are under no legal obligation to compensate their employees with paid time off if they decide to close. However, some companies may have policies in place to guarantee workers paid time off.
The International Foundation of Employee Benefits surveyed Paid Leave in the Workplace in 2017. This survey found that 45% of employers grant their employees Christmas Eve off from work and 23% New Year’s Eve. Additionally, 13% of employers provided their workers with a week of paid holiday between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Furthermore, 48% offered their employees a floating holiday day normally one to two times a year.