What are the typical US public holidays?


We're just employing our first people in the US (currently have employees in the UK). I understand that not all companies recognise all the same public holidays. There's a list of public holidays that Federal employees are entitled to, but what's the norm for software companies?

By the way, this will be in addition to the paid vacation time that we provide.

Benefits USA

asked Jan 7 '10 at 06:23
143 points

7 Answers


In my experience, the norm for 2010 would be:

  • Friday, January 1 - New Year’s Day
  • Monday, January 18 - Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Monday, February 15 - President's Day (this varies among companies)
  • Monday, May 31 - Memorial Day
  • Monday, July 5 - Independence Day
  • Monday, September 6 - Labor Day
  • Thursday, November 25 - Thanksgiving Day
  • Friday, November 26 - Day after Thanksgiving
  • Friday, December 24 - Christmas Eve Day (this varies among companies)
  • Monday, December 27 - Christmas holiday (normally this would be Dec. 25, but it's on a weekend this year)

Also, some companies choose to give a handful (1-3) Flexible Holidays, which employees can use on whatever day they choose. This is especially nice for employees who observe different holidays as part of their religion or culture.

answered Jan 7 '10 at 06:40
230 points
  • Thanks very much. I've now moved this list onto our intranet :) – User878 14 years ago


Dharmesh and Hubspot just shared some great advice today on this topic.

Their new vacation policy is "If you need time off, take it." 7 words. This is awesome.

They'll tell you what days they need off, and they probably are going to deserve a lot more in today's internet world than their fathers and mothers used to get. Since we all seem to work at home and on the weekends non stop.

People are generally responsible and act like adults when we let them. Rules and regulations always come up so easy in our minds. Why? Have we really been burned by some employee thinking they are entitled to 6 months off? It's more like we think the rules of "you only have these many weeks" is a way to avoid any uncomfortable conversation later if they don't work very hard and still take 6 weeks off. Sorry to say that person isn't going to magically become a better employee with some more rules to follow. You are going to have to converse with them about improving their game or letting them go regardless.

answered Jan 7 '10 at 06:53
Nathan Kontny
1,865 points
  • Whilst that's a cool idea, I think in practice employees will take less time off as a result. Our policy for US employees matches what we offer to our UK employees... 28 days paid vacation a year, from your first day on the team. Personally I'd prefer to specify exactly how generous we are being. If we were to use Hubspot's approach I could almost guarantee people would take just 1-2 weeks, if that. – User878 14 years ago
  • Which is exactly why I make sure I talk to my employees "hey make sure you take some time off if you need it. you work great, and deserve the rest when you want it". I see more people stressing about the very last day of vacation they can irk out of their vacation bank, than ever sitting their thinking "damn i forgot to take days off this year, why didn't anyone make me". – Nathan Kontny 14 years ago


Not all places have off for Columbus Day

Those are the minimum I would go with.

I would also give off for the day after Thanksgiving.

When we hire employees we will have to make a policy for vacation. I think we're going to start with something like 5 weeks of vacation plus all federal holidays and the day after Thanksgiving.

answered Jan 7 '10 at 06:39
Tim J
8,346 points


You mentioned software development industry and that is my favorite industry I have worked for. One key thing I have learned from running business operations in software dev shops - be very liberal with vacation days! Especially when it comes to developers, those guys and gals work very hard and how well they are rested directly translates into how clean their code is.
I would budget 7-10 holidays (Federal ones plus flexible), 2 weeks mandatory vacation (with "use it or lose it"), and "sanity days". Project leaders or managers should have the power to give an employee half or full day off with pay at their discretion to individual employees to make sure they don't burn out.

Also, I wanted to mention that we had great success with flexible hours. You can institute "core hours" (like 10 to 4) non-client-facing staff (like devs) must be in the office and they can choose to come in early or late.

answered Jan 7 '10 at 07:56
Apollo Sinkevicius
3,323 points
  • 10 holidays plus 2 weeks is hardly what I would call "very liberal"... My policy was to leave an interview if the vacation policy was just 2 weeks. – Tim J 14 years ago


I've worked in a number of software startups and found that ten scheduled days off are enough when combined with very liberal face time and vacation policies.

I also agree with the other poster who suggested that having no fixed limits on vacations actually winds up with developers working more days, not less. But if you must have fixed vacations two weeks is not nearly enough for any but very junior or very desperate developers.

answered Jan 7 '10 at 09:08
Jim In Texas
228 points


Very, very few small US companies close down for all of the holidays being mentioned. The typical US small business gives all employees the following 7 holidays:

  1. New Years Day
  2. Memorial Day
  3. July 4
  4. Labor Day
  5. Thanksgiving & the day after
  6. Christmas Day

This has been the norm at our software company for the last dozen years.

answered Jan 7 '10 at 09:12
Keith De Long
5,091 points


Some companies create a floater holiday that can be used for either Martin Luther King Day,Good Friday, or another religious holiday.

answered Jan 7 '10 at 13:43
649 points
  • Our floating holiday can be used on any recognized holiday. HR helpfully points us to http://www.brownielocks.com/month2.html which lists holidays for every day of the year. Happy Harlem Globetrotter's Day, I'm Not Going To Take It Anymore Day, and International Programmers' Day! – Mark Harrison 14 years ago

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