Christmas Eve-Eve Bonus Holiday?

Wednesday - 12/15/2010, 4:00am EST

Christmas, as you probably know, falls on a Saturday this year. This means that the official government holiday will be observed on Friday the 24th. So what, if anything, does that mean to your work schedule? Good question!

Last year (2009) Christmas fell on a Friday. About this time last year President Obama gave nonemergency, nonpostal federal workers up to four hours off on Christmas eve, which was Thursday, Dec. 24th.

But that was last year.

There is no guarantee that presidents will grant federal workers extra time off around Christmas. In many instances in the past the White House has granted workers some time off on Christmas Eve, and more often than not workers have been given an extra day when Christmas was on a Tuesday (meaning they got Monday off) or Thursday, when they sometimes got a bonus day off on Friday.

But none of this is chiseled in stone.

The current economic situation is considered so grim that the White House and Congress are preparing to freeze federal pay until at least January, 2013. In addition to the two-year freeze there is talk of furloughs and downsizing through attrition. Congress has canceled plans to once again give out $250 to Social Security recipients because they (along with military and civil service retirees) won't be getting a cost of living adjustment in January. This will be the second year in a row without a COLA.

And although Social Security faces major financial problems in the future, the White House and Congress are moving ahead with a plan to temporarily cut Social Security payroll taxes next year. That would mean a two percentage point rise in take-home pay for millions of Americans. Enough, officials think/hope/pray to prevent the economic recovery from stalling.

While we await news (if any) on a possible Christmas Eve gift of time, here's a brief, recent history of pre and post Christmas time outs:

First, the history of bonus holidays.

President George W. Bush twice (2001 and 2007) gave feds the day off (Monday) when Christmas fell on Tuesday. Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Nixon and Carter gave government workers the Thursday-before-Christmas off.

President Reagan gave feds three hours leave on Christmas Eve, and President George H.W. Bush gave executive branch workers a half day off in 1990.

President Obama opted to authorize four hours of paid time off on the 24th for employees who could be spared. Last year (2009) then Social Security Commissioner Michael J. Astrue told his people to take the whole day off on the 24th as thanks for doing a great job in a very tough year. SSA folks got the same gift of time again this year when they were given the day after Thanksgiving off.

FYI: agency heads can authorize time off for a variety of reasons. This is why some bosses let workers go home early every year on Christmas Eve and New Years Eve. They don't have to, but they can and some do.

Meantime, keep your fingers crossed!

3.15 Per Cent Investment

Do you know that Uncle Sam has a special, Treasury-backed investment option that is paying 3.15 percent this year? It's called the Voluntary Contributions program and its open only to workers under the old CSRS retirement plan. The VC program is separate and distinct from the Thrift Savings Plan. For many employees it's the best investment option around. Today at 10a.m. on our Your Turn with Mike Causey radio show, benefits expert Tammy Flanagan explains how the VC works, what you can do with it and its Roth option. That's 10 a.m. EST today at www.federalnewsradio.com

To reach me: mcausey@federalnewsradio.com


Nearly Useless Factoid
by Suzanne Kubota

According to the UPI, coming soon to the annual Fancy Food Show in New York next month: Mackie's Haggis and Cracked Black Pepper flavored potato chips. Not mentioned: recommended dips for that.


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