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Federal Paid Holidays – Juneteenth

Posted on June 18, 2021

Signing of S. 475

Yesterday afternoon, President Biden signed Senate Bill 475 officially declaring June 19th a federal holiday named “Juneteenth National Independence Day” to commemorate the anniversary of the Union Army arriving in Galveston, Texas to take control of the state and enforce the freedoms granted by the Emancipation Proclamation (signed about 2.5 years earlier).

Soon after the President signed the bill into law, there were questions as to whether federal employees would be able to observe the federal holiday in 2021. Since June 19th falls on a Saturday this year, its first day of observance as a federal holiday is today – June 18, 2021. However, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (essentially the federal government’s HR department) announced yesterday that “most federal employees will observe the holiday tomorrow, June 18th.”

How Does This Affect Ohio Public Schools?

This all begs the question, are Ohio public school districts required to treat today as a paid holiday? The short answer is no – unless your district has obligated itself to observe all federal holidays through board policy or a collective bargaining agreement.

Legal Analysis for Ohio Public Schools

Ohio public school districts are required to observe certain paid holidays. See R.C. 3319.087. The statute requires school districts to pay all regular nonteaching school employees (whether salaried or hourly) their regular salary or regular rate of pay for certain enumerated holidays. The list of holidays differs slightly depending on whether the employee maintains an eleven / twelve month contract, a nine / ten month contract, or a contract for fewer than nine months. Below is a list of the paid holidays Ohio public schools are required to observe:

  • Eleven & Twelve Month Regular Nonteaching Employees: New Year’s day, Martin Luther King day, Memorial day, Independence day, Labor day, Thanksgiving day, and Christmas day.
  • Nine & Ten Month Regular Nonteaching Employees: New Year’s day, Martin Luther King day, Memorial day, Labor day, Thanksgiving day, and Christmas day.
  • Fewer than Nine Month Regular Nonteaching Employees: Entitled to any of the above listed holidays which fall during the employee’s time of employment.

When a regular nonteaching employee is required to work on any of the above-listed paid holidays, the statute requires the District to grant compensatory time off to that employee for which she shall be paid her regular salary or her regular rate of pay.

While R.C. 3319.087 lists up to seven required paid holidays, it also permits school districts to declare additional paid holidays. In practice, if districts choose to grant additional paid holidays, it is achieved through a collective bargaining agreement or board policies. As such, we recommend that districts review the language in classified collective bargaining agreements and related board policies to determine if the district has an obligation to observe this newly established federal holiday.

As always, please contact any of our attorneys is you have additional questions or want assistance reviewing your collective bargaining agreement(s) or board policies.

This communication is intended as general information and should not be relied upon as legal advice. If legal advice is required, please contact any of our attorneys on our cell phones, at (614) 222-8686, or via email.