Feds given the day off on Christmas Eve

Friday - 12/21/2012, 11:01am EST

Federal employees will not have to come to work on Mon., Dec. 24, 2012. The White House announced Friday in an executive order it was giving all executive branch departments and agencies the day off with pay.

There are a few exceptions, however.

"The heads of executive branch departments and agencies may determine that certain offices and installations of their organizations, or parts thereof, must remain open and that certain employees must report for duty on December 24, 2012, for reasons of national security, defense, or other public need," according to the executive order.

The U.S. Postal Service also is not affected by the EO. USPS employees will still report to work and mail will be delivered as usual, an agency spokesman tells Federal News Radio.

Federal employees who were previously scheduled to take annual leave on Monday will not be charged for it, according to a memo from Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry, posted on the CHCO Council website. However, employees who had scheduled "use or lose" leave on Monday, must reschedule their day off before the end of the leave year or the day will be forfeited. For most feds, that means the day off will have to be rescheduled before January 12, 2013.

The memo provides a question and answer section for federal employees looking for details on their specific vacation issues, like "in lieu of" holidays.

In the past, more often than not, feds have gotten time off when Christmas Eve falls on either a Monday, as it does this year, or a Friday.

President Barack Obama gave federal employees four hours off on Christmas Eve 2009 when it fell on a Thursday. In 2011, feds got Monday (Dec. 26th) as a bonus holiday.

President George W. Bush gave federal employees off Christmas Eve in 2001 and 2007 when it fell on a Monday. Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Nixon and Carter gave feds the Thursday before Christmas off, as well.

Many federal employees had been hoping for the four-day weekend. Federal News Radio received many emails and phone calls from feds in the past few weeks, inquiring whether they'd be given the day off.

"Of course I would like the extra day off, but what I really want is a decision. I want to be able to plan my leave status one way or the other. (I have use or lose)," one federal employee emailed Federal News Radio.

Duncan Giles, an IRS employee, also told Federal News Radio he believed the President should give feds the extra holiday with pay.

"We have been in a pay freeze for over two years ... We get slammed regularly by members of Congress who love a good sound bite. My fellow federal employees deserve at least this day off."