Memorial Day is here and people across the nation are honoring those who have given their lives serving in the United States Military. This holiday started in 1868 and continues to this day, being observed on the last Monday in May. In 1971 Memorial Day was declared a federal Holiday. The complete listing of federal holidays for 2023 include:

  • New Year’s Day: January 1
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: third Monday of January
  • President’s Day: third Monday of February
  • Memorial Day: last Monday in May
  • Juneteenth: June 19
  • Independence Day: July 4
  • Labor Day: first Monday in September
  • Columbus Day: second Monday in October
  • Veterans Day: November 11
  • Thanksgiving Day: fourth Thursday in November
  • Christmas Day: December 25


The story doesn’t end there as there are religious occasions observed by various faiths, such as:

  • Easter (Christianity)
  • Eid-al-Fitr (Islam)
  • Rosh Hashanah (Judaism)
  • Diwali (Hinduism, Sikhism)


And state and regional holidays must be considered when placing candidates in specific areas:

  • Mardi Gras Day (Louisiana)
  • Arbor Day (New England)
  • Statehood Day (Hawaii)
  • Lincoln’s Birthday (Eight states)
  • Bennington Battle Day (Vermont)
  • Texas Independence Day (Texas)
  • DC Emancipation Day
  • Alaska Day
  • West Virginia Day


Recruiters should be knowledgeable about how these holidays fit in to the employment marketplace. For federal employees, the eleven days are mandated paid holidays. State employees and sometimes local government employees as well may be granted holidays specific to their state. Some states such as Massachusetts and Rhode Island have further requirements, so it pays to do some investigation when you are making a placement!

For private employers, paid holidays are given to employees as part of their compensation package, there being no legal requirement for any employer to provide paid holidays. Paid holidays, paid vacation, and paid sick leave are all determined by the employer as a means of attracting and keeping valued employees. Typically, holidays and paid time off (PTO) should be clearly specified in an employment offer letter or an employee handbook. The employer offering the most comprehensive holiday and other time-off benefits is most likely to attract the best employees in a competitive hiring market, other factors being equal.

Citing the well-known job site Indeed for employers, “on average, 77% of civilian workers are given holidays by their employers, with an average of about eight holidays per year, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics.” Indeed further notes that “it costs private industry employers an average of $2.91 for every employee hour worked to provide paid holidays. But this cost is offset by many intangible benefits. A reasonable time-off policy, including paid holidays, helps you to: build goodwill among staff, boost employee satisfaction, recruit new staff by offering attractive benefits, and prevent employee burnout…”

Employer-paid vacation and PTO can differ between exempt and non-exempt employees. Exempt employees are expected to work whenever needed. They often have more flexibility in their work schedule and need less supervision. According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) exempt employees do not qualify for overtime provisions and are typically paid on a salary basis and not at an hourly rate. If an employee works on a commonly observed holiday, they may receive holiday pay, at the discretion of the employer.  It is not a requirement to pay non-exempt employees for holidays. Since there are no laws regulating extra pay, employers and employees must agree on PTO. The FLSA does not require any payment for time not worked unless covered by state law, an employment agreement, or company policy.

As you can see, it can be quite challenging navigating this minefield! The important thing to keep in mind is to make sure you understand the rules which apply to your business and to clearly specify what holidays and other benefits the employee may expect. Do your homework and learn about the requirements where your placement is to be made so you can KNOW YOUR HOLIDAYS!

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