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Obama Gives Feds Half-Day Off on Christmas Eve

Half day keeps with tradition when Christmas falls on a Friday.

President Obama on Friday granted federal employees a half-day off on Christmas Eve. 

"All executive branch departments and agencies of the Federal Government shall be closed and their employees excused from duty for the last half of the scheduled workday on Thursday, December 24, 2015, the day before Christmas Day,..." Obama said in an executive order.

The decision is in keeping with recent precedent on time off around the holiday. 

In 2014, Obama issued a Dec. 5 executive order giving federal workers an extra holiday on Dec. 26, the day after Christmas. Obama gave federal employees a half day off on Christmas Eve in 2009, when Christmas fell on a Friday, but did not give any time off in 2010 or 2011. The president did not offer feds any extra time off around the holidays in 2013, when Christmas fell on a Wednesday. But he did give them Christmas Eve off to create a four-day weekend in 2012, when Christmas was on a Tuesday.

Some feds may have to report to work, Obama wrote in his order. 

"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 remain on duty for the full scheduled workday on December 24, 2015, for reasons of national security, defense, or other public need," Obama wrote. The president also called on the Office of Personnel Management to "take such actions as may be necessary to implement this order." 

Leaving nothing to chance, federal employees had asked the president for the whole day of Dec. 24 off. “Federal employees work extremely hard year after year to carry out our mission statement as public servants,” stated a Nov. 21 petition on the White House's We the People website. “Although we are a family at work, giving federal employees Christmas Eve off to spend with their families at home would not only be a wonderful gift from our president but would also boost morale in the workplace and within ourselves. We feel unappreciated with pay freezes and constant threats of government shutdowns. Being with our relatives is so important during this time and would mean everything.”

As of Friday afternoon, that petition had more than 26,000 signatures. A similar petition posted on Nov. 24 had roughly 6,260 signatures. The petitions had to reach a threshold of 100,000 signatures within 30 days to compel a response from Obama. 

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