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Employer’s guide to state holidays Pennsylvania

6 min read
state holidays Pennsylvania

There are a number of state holidays in Pennsylvania that mark significant historical and cultural events. These PA holidays hold particular importance to the residents of the Keystone State, shaping their collective identity and fostering a sense of community. From commemorating the founding of Pennsylvania to honoring the contributions of its citizens, each holiday brings its own unique meaning and traditions.

This article will highlight all federal and state holidays in Pennsylvania and explore how they impact public and private employers. We will also discuss the Pennsylvania leave and holiday laws that you need to consider when you create your employee time off policies.

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Federal holidays 2023 in Pennsylvania

Employers in Pennsylvania, like those across the United States, are generally required to observe the federally recognized holidays.

Federal holidays 2023 in Pennsylvania:

  • New Year’s Day: January 2nd (observed)
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day: January 16th
  • Presidents’ Day: February 20th (also known as Washington’s Birthday)
  • Memorial Day: May 29th
  • Juneteenth: 19 June
  • Independence Day: July 4th
  • Labor Day: September 4th
  • Indigenous Peoples’ Day (Columbus Day): October 9th
  • Veterans Day: November 10th (Observed)
  • Thanksgiving Day: November 23rd
  • Christmas Day: December 25th

Juneteenth is the latest addition to this list. In 2021, President Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law, making Juneteenth a federal holiday throughout the United States. On this day, citizens of Pennsylvania celebrate with lively parades and festivals that showcase their unique culture, heritage, and pride.

These federal holidays are observed by most states, including New York, Massachusetts, Texas, New Jersey, California, and Florida.

State holidays Pennsylvania (PA)

Aside from the above federal holidays 2023 in Pennsylvania, the commonwealth also observes a number of PA state holidays in 2023. However, Pennsylvania does not recognize these days as legal holidays. Instead, they are optional holidays. This means that public and private employers do not have to offer time off to employees unless they choose to do so or it is a condition of an employee’s employment contract or bargaining agreement.

PA state employee holidays in 2023:

  • Lincoln’s Birthday (February 12): This day commemorates the birthday of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States. Many Pennsylvania cities hold parades on Lincoln’s Birthday to celebrate his life and legacy.
  • Good Friday (April 7): Good Friday is a Christian holiday and a day of fasting, prayer, and reflection for many Christians. There are many different ways that people celebrate Good Friday. Some people attend church services, while others spend time with family and friends. Some people also participate in community events, such as hunger walks or candlelight vigils.
  • Flag Day (June 14): Pennsylvania is one of only a few states that observes Flag Day, which commemorates the adoption of the United States flag on June 14, 1777. On this day, Pennsylvanians take pride in displaying the American flag and participating in various patriotic events and ceremonies that honor the enduring symbol of the nation’s unity and independence.
  • National Pennsylvania Day (September 26): Pennsylvania Day is a holiday that commemorates the founding of Pennsylvania on September 26, 1682. On this day, Pennsylvanians celebrate the rich history, diverse heritage, and contributions of their state by participating in community events, historical reenactments, educational activities, and various festivities across the Commonwealth.
  • Election Day (November 7): The day for general elections in the United States.

Leave and holiday laws in the state of Pennsylvania

We are now going to explore the leave and holiday laws in the state of Pennsylvania. It’s important to keep these in mind when you create your employee time off policies. That way, you will have a clear and defined process for managing all state holidays in Pennsylvania.

Vacation leave

The Pennsylvania State Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS) Act requires state employers to provide vacation leave to employees who have worked for at least 1 year. The amount of vacation leave that employees are entitled to depends on their years of service.

What about private companies?

Private employers in Pennsylvania do not have to provide paid or unpaid vacation. However, the vast majority of private employers observe 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. Whether these days are paid or unpaid depends on each employer’s leave policy. For example, some employers offer a set number of days of paid leave per year, while other employers offer unlimited PTO, personal time off, VTO, floating holidays, or flexible time off.


According to Pennsylvania law, employers can require federal and state employees to accrue vacation leave over time. However, they cannot deny vacation leave to employees who have not accrued it.

There are no state laws in Pennsylvania that regulate how private employees accrue vacation leave. As a result, employers are free to set their own vacation payout and PTO carry over policies. However, employers can limit the amount of vacation time an employee can accrue during the year.

Roll over

Employers in Pennsylvania are not required to allow employees to roll over vacation time. However, many employers do, subject to certain restrictions.

Here are some common restrictions that employers impose on vacation rollover:

  • Employees can only roll over a certain number of days of vacation time.
  • Employees can only roll over vacation time from one year to the next.
  • If an employer does allow employees to roll over vacation time, the employer must have a written policy that outlines the restrictions on vacation rollover. The policy must be given to employees in writing at the time of hire or at the time that the policy is adopted.

Payment of accrued, unused vacation on termination

In the event of termination, the state does not mandate PTO payout. Employers are not legally required to provide vacation pay or compensate employees for unused vacation time, unless it is specified in a company policy or employment contract.

Is holiday pay mandatory in Pennsylvania?

Whether an employer in Pennsylvania offers holiday pay or unpaid time off depends on a number of aspects. This includes the company’s policies, the specific job classification, the size of the organization, and any applicable state laws or regulations.

Here are the specific laws that regulate holiday pay for federal and state holidays in Pennsylvania that you need to keep in mind:

  • Most federal offices are closed on federal holidays and state employees receive their regular pay. The only exception to this is in the case of essential services, where certain state employees can be asked to work on holidays and receive additional compensation or compensatory time off in lieu of holiday pay.
  • Private employees in Pennsylvania are not legally entitled to time off for federal holidays if they have fewer than 50 employees. However, most businesses, regardless of size, offer time off for major holidays such as New Year’s Day, Labor Day, Christmas Day, and Thanksgiving.
  • The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not require private employers to provide paid time off (PTO) for holidays. This means that you do not have to offer holiday pay to employees if they do not work. However, many businesses choose to offer PTO as an employee benefit. Generally speaking, the amount of paid time off can vary based on factors such as the industry, location, and the employee’s length of service with the company.
  • Finally, according to the FLSA, private employers must pay non-exempt employees time and a half for any hours worked on a federal holiday. If you have fewer than 25 employees, you do not have to pay your employees for the hours they work on state-recognized holidays. However, if you do choose to pay your employees, you cannot reduce their pay or force them to use their vacation days.


PTO management made easy with Factorial

Managing paid time off can be a daunting task for any employer. There are a lot of factors to keep track of, such as the number of days each employee is entitled to, the types of leave they can take, and how much leave they have remaining. That’s why it’s so crucial to have access to the right tools and technology to streamline and automate the process.

Factorial’s PTO management features can help employers manage state holidays in Pennsylvania easily and effectively.

For example, Factorial can help employers:

  • Create customizable PTO policies. Whether it’s accounting for state holidays, or defining accrual rates, Factorial empowers employers to create flexible and compliant time off policies that align with their business goals.
  • Track employee PTO accruals. Factorial can also automatically track how many days of PTO each employee is entitled to for state-recognized holidays. This information can be used to ensure that entitled employees are paid for their time off on these days.
  • Streamline the holiday request process. Moreover, employees can use the Factorial app to request time off for state-recognized holidays or any other type of time off request. Employers can then approve or deny these requests quickly and easily through an intuitive leave management system.
  • Generate reports on PTO usage. Employers can use this information to track trends and identify any areas where improvements can be made.
  • Integrate time off data with their other systems. Factorial integrates with a variety of other HR systems, such as payroll and time-tracking software. As a result, it is easy to keep track of PTO data across all of your systems.

Essentially, with Factorial, employers can effortlessly handle all aspects of state holidays in Pennsylvania, ensuring compliance with federal and state regulations and creating seamless time off policies for their workforce.

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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