List of 2021 Federal Holidays for Small Business Owners

When designing a paid time off policy or managing PTO requests, take this list of 2021 federal holidays into account

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What are the 2021 U.S. federal holidays?

In 2021, the federal holidays in the United States fall on the following dates:

  • Friday, January 1 – New Year’s Day
  • Monday, January 18 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • Monday, February 15 – President’s Day
  • Monday, May 31 – Memorial Day
  • Sunday, July 4 – Independence Day
  • Monday, July 5 – Independence Day (observed)
  • Monday, September 6 – Labor Day
  • Monday, October 11 – Columbus Day
  • Thursday, November 11 – Veterans Day
  • Thursday, November 25 – Thanksgiving Day
  • Friday, December 24 – Christmas Day (observed)
  • Saturday, December 25 – Christmas Day
  • Friday, December 31 – New Year’s Day (observed)

One thing that is important to note is that some federal holidays are on the same date every year, while others will be on the same day, but on a different date. For example, Thanksgiving Day is always on the fourth Thursday in November.

What does it mean for a holiday to be “federal”?

Holidays aren’t all the same. Some are federal, some are religious, and some are meaningless (you might have heard of National Pie Day or National Chocolate-Covered Cherry Day.)

As an employer, the most important 2021 holidays to know will be federal holidays. Federal Holidays are holidays that have been established by law (5 U.S.C. 6103).

Government offices and banks are closed in observance of these holidays. Because the U.S. has deemed these specific days federal holidays, it encourages other businesses to also close so that observance of that particular holiday can be experienced by all.

Federal vs. religious holidays

The U.S. recognizes only one religious holiday as a federal holiday – Christmas Day. All other religious holidays aren’t recognized as federal holidays for a few reasons. As an employer, it is important to note that by law, you have an obligation to make reasonable accommodations for employees celebrating religious holidays.

For example, Muslim employees may wish for time-off to celebrate wither of their 2 major religious holidays: Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha. To accommodate this, many employers offer a floating holiday, in which an employee receives any day-off that can be used to celebrate their religious holidays.

Does your state celebrate other holidays?

Certain U.S. states have their own state-wide holidays that are observed by state governments and banks. Some of these include:

  • Nevada’s Nevada Day – the last Friday in October of every year
  • Georgia’s Founding Day – a holiday that celebrates its founding on February 12, 1733
  • Wisconsin has several – Casimir Pulaski Day on March 4, and Robert La Follette Sr. Day on June 14
  • Hawaii Native Royalty – March 26 and June 11

Do I have to give employees time off on federal holidays?

As an employer, you do not have to give employees federal holidays off, unless you’re a financial institution or government entity.

Currently, there is no federal law that requires employers to give their workers a holiday off of work. It’s usually done at the employer’s merit (except for banks and government.)

Additionally, if an employer does give their employees holidays off, they’re not required by the law to pay employees for that time.

That said, just because it’s not a requirement for employers to give employees holidays off, or pay for any time off, there’s a reason why most employers offer it as an employee benefit. It’s used as a way to keep employees happy, productive, and satisfied. In today’s war for talent, it’s become more important than ever to do so.

Key takeaway for 2021 holiday calendar business planning

You can count on federal holidays being on these days every year:

  • New Year’s Day (January 1)
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (Third Monday in January)
  • President’s Day (Third Monday in February)
  • Memorial Day (Last Monday in May)
  • Independence Day (July 4)
  • Labor Day (First Monday in September)
  • Columbus Day (Second Monday in October)
  • Veterans Day (November 11)
  • Thanksgiving Day (Fourth Thursday in November)
  • Christmas Day (December 25)

While not required, there are many benefits to employers to offer time off and paid time off to employees on federal holidays. The biggest being that it aids in attracting and retaining top talent, and contributing to job satisfaction. It can offer more good than harm, and all it takes to accommodate is a little looking and planning ahead.

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