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Feds Petition for Paid Day Off After Thanksgiving

President has power to declare federal agencies closed, but generally reserves it for Christmas time.

It has become commonplace for federal employees to ask the White House for an extra day off around Christmas. And often, that wish is granted.

Now, some feds are feeling a bit greedy it seems, sending President Obama a new holiday request: closing the federal government on the day after Thanksgiving. A petition on the White House’s “We the People” website asked for a paid day off this Nov. 27.

“Federal employees have suffered years of little to no cost-of-living increases in their pay along with the strain of threatened shutdowns and the loss of pay during those times,” the petition reads. “Morale is at an all time low and a paid day off to spend with their families would go a long way towards making employees feel appreciated.”

The petition, created last week, is far short of the required number of signatures to trigger a response from the White House; it has garnered just 54 signatures as of Monday afternoon, but it needs 100,000 for a response. Feds have a month to reach the threshold, though that deadline is after the requested day off.

A similar effort in 2014 for the day after Christmas, a Friday, fell just short of the threshold, receiving 98,000 signatures. The petitioner’s rally was not for naught, however, as Obama issued an executive order that closed the government and excused employees from their duties that day.

Obama did not give any extra time off around Christmas in 2010, 2011 or 2013, but gave a half day off in 2009 and a full day off in 2012. In recent history, presidents have generally given at least a half day off when the timing allows for an extended weekend. Because Thanksgiving is always on the fourth Thursday in November, giving off Black Friday would create a four-day weekend. Presidents have historically not opted to create the extra holiday, however.

The holiday would still not be without precedent at the federal level: in 2010, then Social Security Administration Commissioner Michael Astrue told non-emergency employees that because they “faced unprecedented workloads and unprecedented hostility from an increasingly stressed public,” the Friday after Thanksgiving would be considered a holiday. 

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