Feds get half-day off on Christmas Eve

Federal employees only have to work a half-day on Christmas Eve this year, President Bush announced Thursday.

In an executive order, Bush said that federal managers should allow workers to leave early on Tuesday, Dec. 24.

But Bush also said that "the heads of executive branch departments and agencies may determine that certain offices and installations of their organizations, or parts thereof, must remain open and that certain employees must report for duty for the full scheduled workday on December 24, 2002, for reasons of national security or defense or other public reasons." Bush gave federal employees Dec. 24 off last year because Christmas fell on a Tuesday.

There is some historical precedent for providing a little extra vacation time when Christmas falls in mid-week. When Christmas fell on a Wednesday in 1946 and 1957, the president gave federal employees a half-day off on Christmas Eve.

But Christmas also fell on a Wednesday in 1963, 1968, 1974, 1985, 1991 and 1996. In each of those years, federal workers had to work full days on Christmas Eve and the day after Christmas, unless they took annual leave.

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