Bonus holiday? Always a tough call

Thursday - 12/19/2013, 2:00am EST

December can be the cruelest month for any President. This year, there is the problem of what to do about Syria, Iran and China. How's the Affordable Care Act going and what is Vice President Joe Biden going to say next?

But one of the toughest calls for the commander in chief is whether to give federal workers some time off around Christmas.

It can be a lose-lose decision for POTUS, either with federal workers or the general public. Especially when Christmas falls in the middle of the week, like this year.

When Christmas falls on a Saturday or Sunday, it is pretty much a no-brainer. Non-emergency feds usually get the day off either the Friday before or the Monday after. Not always, but nearly always.

When Dec. 25 is a Tuesday or Thursday, again the rule of thumb is (usually) that nonessential feds get the Monday before or the Friday after off with pay.

But when Christmas is a Wednesday, as it is this year, it presents special problems. Some political, some logistical. In a year when you've had furloughs and shutdowns, do you carry on and give feds some time off? If so, when and how much? Often (but not always) when Christmas is a Wednesday, presidents have given workers a half day off.

In 2009, President Obama gave federal workers four hours off on Christmas Eve when the 25th was a Thursday. But people were expected to report to work, or take annual or use-it-or-lose it leave if they wanted Friday off.

President George W. Bush gave feds Christmas Eve off in 2001 and again in 2007 when Christmas was a Tuesday.

So there is no rule of thumb.

It is during the Christmas season that employees of the U.S. Postal Service are reminded how different they are (in some ways) from their white-collar colleagues. Most postal employees, letter carriers, clerks, mail handlers and other craft employees usually don't get any extra time off, unless they take it.

For a look at how presidents have dealt with bonus holidays in the past, click here — and keep your fingers crossed:


NEARLY USELESS FACTOID

Compiled by Jack Moore

Elves first became linked with Santa Claus in the 1823 Clement Clarke Moore classic poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas," in which Jolly Old St. Nick is referred to as a "jolly old elf," himself. It wasn't until an 1857 poem in "Harper's Weekly," which included a few lines about the elves working to make "cakes, sugar-plums, and toys," that the little sprites gained a reputation for being Santa's little helpers.

(Source: LiveScience)


MORE FROM FEDERAL NEWS RADIO

Pay gap between federal employees, private-sector workers continues to grow
The gap in pay between federal employees and private-sector workers widened slightly this year, according to data presented at the annual meeting of the Federal Salary Council. On average, federal employees earn 35.37 percent less than their private-sector counterpart, according to data from the Office of Personnel Management and the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Best Places to Work rankings show repeat winners and all-time lows
For the third consecutive year, NASA, FDIC and the Surface Transportation Board scored highest in their respective categories. But 2013 marks the all-time lowest employee satisfaction scores overall, according to the annual Best Places to Work report from the Partnership for Public Service and Deloitte. Governmentwide numbers show the federal workforce is most concerned with leadership, mission and pay.