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Paid and Unpaid Holidays

This page provides an overview of paid and unpaid holidays for local governments in Washington State, including the state legal holiday schedule that many jurisdictions adopt, floating holidays, religious holidays, and other considerations.

New legislation: Beginning in 2022, SHB 1016 makes Juneteenth (June 19) a new paid state holiday, commemorating the abolishment of slavery and the day that the knowledge of freedom reached the last remaining enslaved people in 1865. Because June 19 falls on a Sunday in 2022, the new state holiday will be observed for the first time on Monday, June 20, 2022.

For more information, including examples of local ordinances establishing Juneteenth as a paid holiday, see the "Juneteenth" section below.



Overview

RCW 1.16.050 defines the Washington State legal holidays shown in the schedule below. Many local governments follow the state holiday schedule, although they are not required to. See also RCW 2.28.100 and RCW 2.28.110 for court business on legal holidays, and RCW 28A.150.050 for school holidays.

Practice Tip: When scheduling public meetings and events, it can be helpful to be aware of dates that are significant to people of various faiths or ethnicities even if the days are not celebrated as state legal holidays. The Washington State Council of Presidents has developed a Holiday & Observance Calendar that might be of assistance.


State Legal Holiday Schedule

Below is the list of Washington State's legal holidays. Many local governments follow the state holiday schedule, although they are not required to. Under RCW 1.16.050(6), the legislative body of each local government may choose to adopt more or fewer holidays through their ordinances, resolutions, personnel policies, or union contracts.

RCW 1.16.050(5) provides that when a legal holiday, other than Sunday, falls upon a Sunday, the following Monday shall be the legal holiday. When a legal holiday falls upon a Saturday, the preceding Friday shall be the legal holiday.

MRSC follows the state holiday schedule, and our office will be closed these days.

2022

Holiday State Statutory Designation of Holiday (RCW 1.16.050) Observed Holiday Date
New Year's Day First day of January December 31, 2021 (Friday)
Martin Luther King Jr.'s Birthday Third Monday in January January 17, 2022 (Monday)
Presidents' Day Third Monday in February February 21, 2022 (Monday)
Memorial Day Last Monday of May May 30, 2022 (Monday)
Juneteenth
(see below)
June 19 June 20, 2022 (Monday)
Independence Day July 4 July 4, 2022 (Monday)
Labor Day First Monday in September September 5, 2022 (Monday)
Veterans' Day November 11 November 11, 2022 (Friday)
Thanksgiving Day Fourth Thursday in November November 24, 2022 (Thursday)
Native American Heritage Day Friday immediately following fourth Thursday in November November 25, 2022 (Friday)
Christmas Day December 25 December 26, 2022 (Monday)

Juneteenth

Beginning in 2022, SHB 1016 makes Juneteenth (June 19) a new paid state holiday, commemorating the abolishment of slavery and the day that the knowledge of freedom reached the last remaining enslaved people in 1865.

Local governments are not required to follow the state legal holiday schedule, but many do. For jurisdictions considering adding Juneteenth as a paid holiday, below are a few examples:


Additional Local Holidays

As noted earlier, under RCW 1.16.050(6) local governments may establish additional holidays beyond those established in state law. Below are some examples.

  • King County:
    • Ordinance No. 19208 (2020) – Establishing Indigenous Peoples' Day (October 12) as a paid holiday for county employees. Directs staff to consult with tribes and county employees who identify as Native American on whether this is the preferred date; if not, directs staff to submit new legislation.
      • On May 17, 2022, the county council amended this to become the second Monday in October; we will post a signed copy of the ordinance here once it is available
    • Ordinance No. 19209 (2020) – Establishing Juneteenth as a paid holiday for county employees; this ordinance was adopted about a year before Juneteenth became recognized as a state legal holiday.
  • Sammamish Resolution No. R2021-926 (2021) – Providing one-time Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve paid holidays for non-represented employees, to create consistency/equity with represented employees. Resolution states that city will update employee handbook the following year to provide those holidays permanently.
  • Seattle Ordinance No. 126559 (2022) – Establishing Indigenous Peoples' Day (second Monday in October) as a paid holiday; also authorizes memoranda of understanding between the city and certain labor unions to add Indigenous Peoples' Day and Juneteenth as paid holidays

Floating Holiday

RCW 1.16.050(2) also gives state employees one additional paid holiday per calendar year. This additional holiday, often referred to as a “floating” holiday, is taken on a date determined by the employee after consultation with his or her employer pursuant to an adopted policy.

However, the floating holiday is not required for local governments. While the text of RCW 1.16.050(2) also applies to most of the state's "political subdivisions" and seemingly makes the floating holiday a requirement for local governments, the Attorney General’s Office has interpreted RCW 1.16.050(6) as authorizing local governments to not provide the floating holiday to its employees (AGO 1978 No. 7).


Unpaid Religious Holidays and Model Policy

RCW 1.16.050(3) entitles employees of the state and its political subdivision to take two unpaid holidays per calendar year "for a reason of faith or conscience or an organized activity conducted under the auspices of a religious denomination, church, or religious organization."

The employee may select the specific days to take as unpaid holidays after consulting with the employer under guidelines adopted by local ordinance or resolution. The employer must allow the employee to take these specific days as unpaid leave unless it would impose an undue hardship on the employer or the employee is necessary to maintain public safety.

The state Office of Financial Management has adopted administrative rules defining "undue hardship" and providing guidance on how to determine whether an undue hardship exists (see chapter 82-56 WAC, as authorized by RCW 43.41.109).

Model Policy. MRSC developed a model policy addressing the two unpaid religious holidays. It is intended as a comprehensive policy that local governments can adopt wholesale into their existing personnel policies, or use as a foundation for crafting a more individualized policy.


Last Modified: June 22, 2022