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[IWS] CRS: FEDERAL HOLIDAYS: EVOLUTION AND CURRENT PRACTICES [9 May 2014]

IWS Documented News Service

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Institute for Workplace Studies-----------------Professor Samuel B. Bacharach

School of Industrial & Labor Relations-------- Director, Institute for Workplace Studies

Cornell University

16 East 34th Street, 4th floor--------------------Stuart Basefsky

New York, NY 10016 -------------------------------Director, IWS News Bureau

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Congressional Research Service (CRS)

 

Federal Holidays: Evolution and Current Practices

Jacob R. Straus,Analyst on the Congress

May 9, 2014

http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R41990.pdf

[full-text, 13 pages]

 

Summary

The United States has established the following 11 permanent federal holidays established by law,

listed in the order they appear in the calendar: New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday,

Inauguration Day (every four years following a presidential election), George Washington’s

Birthday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day,

Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. Although frequently called public or national holidays,

these celebrations are only legally applicable to federal employees and the District of Columbia,

as the states individually decide their own legal holidays.

 

The first four congressionally designated federal holidays were created in 1870, when Congress

granted paid time off to federal workers in the District of Columbia for New Year’s Day,

Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. In 1880, George Washington’s

Birthday was included. In 1885, Congress extended holiday coverage for some holidays to all

federal employees. Although Thanksgiving Day was included in the first holiday bill of 1870, it

was not until 1941 that Congress specifically designated the fourth Thursday of November as the

official date.

 

Since 1888, Congress has added six federal holidays, creating Decoration Day (now Memorial

Day) in 1888, Labor Day in 1894, Armistice Day (now Veterans Day) in 1938, Inauguration Day

in 1957 (quadrennially and only celebrated in the District of Columbia), Columbus Day in 1968,

and Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday in 1983. In 1954, Armistice Day was broadened to honor

Americans who fought in World War II and the Korean conflict, and the name of the holiday was

changed to Veterans Day.

 

In 1968, the Uniform Monday Holiday Act was enacted to “provide for uniform annual

observances” of Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, and Veterans Day. Additionally, the

Monday Holiday Law established Columbus Day to be celebrated on the second Monday in 1975,

Veterans Day celebrations were returned to November 11 by Congress.

 

Contents

Creation of Federal Holidays ........................................................................................................... 1

New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day .......................... 1

Washington’s Birthday .............................................................................................................. 2

Decoration Day/Memorial Day ................................................................................................. 2

Labor Day .................................................................................................................................. 3

Armistice Day/Veterans Day ..................................................................................................... 3

Thanksgiving Day ..................................................................................................................... 4

Inauguration Day ....................................................................................................................... 5

Columbus Day ........................................................................................................................... 6

Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. ........................................................................................... 6

Uniform Monday Holiday Act ................................................................................................... 7

Federal Holidays and Employee Pay ............................................................................................... 8

Recent Holiday Legislation ............................................................................................................. 9

 

Contacts

Author Contact Information........................................................................................................... 10

 

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This information is provided to subscribers, friends, faculty, students and alumni of the School of Industrial & Labor Relations (ILR). It is a service of the Institute for Workplace Studies (IWS) in New York City. Stuart Basefsky is responsible for the selection of the contents which is intended to keep researchers, companies, workers, and governments aware of the latest information related to ILR disciplines as it becomes available for the purposes of research, understanding and debate. The content does not reflect the opinions or positions of Cornell University, the School of Industrial & Labor Relations, or that of Mr. Basefsky and should not be construed as such. The service is unique in that it provides the original source documentation, via links, behind the news and research of the day. Use of the information provided is unrestricted. However, it is requested that users acknowledge that the information was found via the IWS Documented News Service.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




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