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.
In my experience, the norm for 2010 would be:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
This has been the norm at our software company for the last dozen years.
Some companies create a floater holiday that can be used for either Martin Luther King Day,Good Friday, or another religious holiday.