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To Tallahassee and Back: What Constitutes a Legal State Holiday?

During this holiday season I thought it would be a good time to look at how the State of Florida determines which days of the year are considered paid legal holidays.

As we prepare for the remainder of the holiday season to arrive (Christmas Day and New Year’s Day) I thought it would be a good time to look at how the entity known as the State of Florida determines which days of the year are considered  paid legal holidays.  Since I will not be posting a blog entry between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day I hope you will find time to read this post sometime during the holiday season.

Florida Statutes direct which days of the year are designated as legal holidays.  All state agencies and departments are required to provide these dates as holidays for their employees.   Statutorily, only one of Florida’s nine legal holidays are listed by a specific date (Veterans Day, which is November 11).  Of course some days, such as Christmas Day and Independence Day, always fall on specific dates (December 25 and July 4 respectively).  However, the statute books do not specify the dates of these holidays. 

The first holiday of the year is New Year’s Day (January 1).  The Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. follows.  The observation day for this holiday is listed in law as the third Monday in January.  It is interesting to note that for many years President’s Day (Washington’s Birthday), a federal holiday which falls on the third Monday in February, was  once a recognized state holiday.  However, the Florida Legislature substituted the recognition of the Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. for President’s Day as a legal holiday.  Instead of adding a new holiday to the existing list, the substitution occurred primarily so that the number of legal holidays would remain the same.  This ensured that the cost to the public treasury would not be impacted.

Memorial Day, Independence Day (July 4) and Labor Day follow as the next three legal holidays.  Passover and Easter, which occur between the Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Memorial Day are not recognized as legal holidays, although specific state agencies may grant employees time off to observe those days.

Veterans Day is the state’s next legal holiday.  It is followed by Thanksgiving Day and the Friday After Thanksgiving.  The final legal holiday of the year is Christmas Day.  In 2012 Christmas Eve Day is considered a legal state holiday due its falling on a Monday.  This holiday will not be considered a legal holiday in 2013. The legislature, foreseeing that most of these days will fall upon a weekend at some point in time created an easy method to observe said legal holidays.  If the holiday falls on a Saturday, the Friday preceding it will be its day of observation.  If the holiday falls on a Sunday, the Monday following it will be its day of celebration.

Florida’s governor is vested with statutory authority to declare a state day of mourning.  This would only be allowed if someone who made a significant contribution to the state or the nation has died.  Florida’s Department of Management Services, which is responsible for overseeing all executive branch aspects of human resources and personnel management, is charged with publishing the annual calendar of paid legal holidays.

If you have any questions about any aspect of state government, the legislative process, or would like to learn more about a specific topic relating to Florida politics, please leave me a comment.  I will gladly address your thoughts and concerns in an upcoming blog post.   

As Florida’s state employees enjoy the Christmas holiday season may you and yours be blessed as 2012 ends and 2013 begins!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Marilynn deChant December 20, 2012 at 07:58 PM
Very helpful and informative information Greg. Thanks! Merry Christmas!
Greg Giordano December 20, 2012 at 08:47 PM
Thanks, Marilyn. I appreciate your comments. My best to you and Dell. May you both have a blessed Christmas season!

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