Under the executive order, signed Friday, “all executive departments and agencies of the Federal Government shall be closed and their employees excused from duty on Thursday, 24 December 2020, the day before Christmas Day”.
The executive order does make an exception, however, for the heads of executive departments and agencies, who may determine that “certain offices and installations of their organisations, or parts thereof, must remain open,” as well as for employees who may be needed to work for “reasons of national security, defense, or other public need”.
With Christmas Eve off, federal workers will have a four-day weekend to celebrate the holiday. According to reports, it was previously thought the president would give federal employees a half-day off on the Thursday, as that was what President Obama and President Clinton did when Christmas fell on a Friday.
However, this is not the first time President Trump has decided to issue an executive order giving federal employees the full day off from work, as he has previously done so in 2018 and 2019.
Officially, there are only 10 US federal holidays, but presidents can sign executive orders granting federal employees days off.
Following the recent order, which will mark the president’s last Christmas in the White House, many wondered why he did not make Election Day a federal holiday.
“It’s that easy, huh? How about making Election Day a federal holiday? Long overdue. Let’s make it happen in 2021,” one person tweeted, tagging president-elect Joe Biden.
For employees in the private sector, federal holidays may or may not mean a day off – as businesses cannot legally be required to observe a holiday.