President Biden signed a bill Thursday afternoon making the anniversary of the end of slavery a federal holiday, and OPM confirmed that federal workers will have Friday off.
The Office of Personnel Management announced Thursday morning that “most” federal employees will get a day off Friday to observe the new Juneteenth federal holiday.
Juneteenth is celebrated on June 19 and commemorates the arrival of Union troops in Galveston, Texas, following the end of the Civil War, marking the effective end of slavery in the United States more than two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. The holiday is already recognized by 48 states and the District of Columbia.
The House and Senate both overwhelmingly passed a bill this week to add the occasion to the list of federal holidays, and President Biden signed the legislation into law Thursday afternoon.
Since June 19 falls on a Saturday this year, the observance date for the purposes of giving employees a day off would be Friday. With the short lead time between the bill’s passage and the end of the week, it was unclear whether OPM would be able to implement the new holiday in time to give federal employees Friday off.
But OPM announced in a tweet that “most” federal workers would, indeed, receive that day as a holiday.
“Today, [President Biden] will sign the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, establishing June 19th as a federal holiday,” the agency tweeted. “As the 19th falls on a Saturday, most federal employees will observe the holiday tomorrow, June 18th.”
In guidance sent to agencies Thursday, acting OPM Director Kathleen McGettigan reiterated the policies governing days off for federal employees for federal holidays that fall on weekends. Although full-time employees are entitled to a day off in lieu of the actual holiday in these circumstances, part-time employees are not, although individual agencies may elect to grant them the day off anyway.
"Part-time employees are not entitled to an 'in-lieu-of' holiday," McGettigan wrote. "If an agency’s office or facility is closed due to an 'in-lieu-of' holiday for full-time employees, the agency may grant administrative leave to part-time employees who are otherwise scheduled to work on that day."
Additionally, employees who are required by their agencies to work either on Friday or Saturday must receive holiday premium pay for their work. Employees on alternative work schedules who were already scheduled not to work on Friday either have Thursday, June 17, off, or will receive holiday premium pay for the work they did on Thursday. Agencies were expected to dismiss such employees from their duties once Biden signed the bill.
And employees who had already scheduled leave for Friday will not see those hours charged to their leave bank, McGettigan wrote.
This story has been updated to reflect that President Biden signed the bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday.