Legal Public Holidays 2021


Effective Date: Expiration Date: Chapters:
Oct. 14, 2020 Dec. 31, 2021 12  


On January 20, 2021, the United States will inaugurate the next President and Vice-President. In inaugural years, the District government offers most employees twelve paid holidays. Paid holidays begin with New Year's Day in January and end with Christmas Day in December. This issuance outlines all legal public holidays for calendar year 2021, their impact on employee schedules, and holiday premium pay for employees who are required to work during a legal public holiday.

Public Holidays

Full-Time Schedules Monday through Friday

For calendar year 2021, the legal public holidays for District government employees with basic workweeks of Monday through Friday are as follows:

Calendar Year 2021 Legal Public Holidays
New Year's Day Friday, January 1, 2021
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Birthday Monday, January 18, 2021
Inauguration Day Wednesday, January 20, 2021
Washington's Birthday Monday, Februray 15, 2021
D.C. Emancipation Day Friday, April 16, 2021
Memorial Day Monday, May 31, 2021
Independence Day Monday, July 5, 2021*
Labor Day Monday, September 6, 2021
Indigenous Peoples' Day Monday, October 11, 2021
Veterans Day Thursday, November 11, 2021
Thanksgiving Day Thursday, November 25, 2021
Christmas Day Friday, December 24, 2021**

*July 4, 2021 (Independence Day) falls on a Sunday. Therefore, Monday, July 5 is the legal public holiday for pay and leave purposes (see E-DPM § 1222.1).

**December 25, 2021 (Christmas Day) falls on a Saturday.  Therefore, Friday, December 24 is the legal public holiday for pay and leave.

Part-Time Schedules; Schedules Other Than Monday through Friday

Special rules apply if an employee works part-time, or when an employee’s typical schedule is other than Monday through Friday.

Part-Time Employees

For part-time employees, whenever a public holiday falls on one of the employee’s regularly scheduled workdays, the part-time employee will be entitled to holiday pay. When a public holiday falls on a day a part-time employee is not regularly scheduled to work, the employee will not be entitled to holiday pay and no “in-lieu-of” or make-up day is authorized for that part-time employee.

Full-Time Employees with Non-Standard Workweeks

For full-time employees with schedules other than Monday through Friday, including compressed work schedules, when a holiday falls on a regularly scheduled day off, the legal public holiday for that employee depends on their scheduled tour of duty. The resulting legal public holiday is often called an “in-lieu-of” holiday. For these employees, when a holiday falls on the:

  • First (or only) non-workday - the “in-lieu-of” holiday for the employee is the workday immediately before the first non-workday; and
  • Second (or subsequent) non-workday - the “in-lieu-of” holiday for the employee is the day immediately after the last non-workday.

The following section, “’In-Lieu-Of’ Schedules for Non-Standard Workweeks,” provides specific guidance.

“In-Lieu-Of” Schedules for Non-Standard Workweeks

Please refer to the tables below for guidance on determining the legal public holiday for employees who work non-standard schedules.

Monday Holidays

  • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday:  January 18, 2021
  • Washington’s Birthday:  February 15, 2021
  • Memorial Day:  May 31, 2021
  • Independence Day:  July 5, 2021
  • Labor Day:  September 6, 2021
  • Indigenous Peoples’ Day:  October 11, 2021
“In-Lieu-Of” Days for Monday Holidays
Scheduled Days Off “In-Lieu-of” Holiday Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday Washington’s Birthday Memorial Day Independence Day Labor Day Indigenous Peoples’ Day
Sun & Mon Tues Jan 19 Feb 16 Jun 1 Jul 6 Sep 7 Oct 12
Mon & Tues Sun Jan 17 Feb 14 May 30 Jul 4 Sep 5 Oct 10
Mon & Wed
Mon & Thurs
Mon & Fri
Mon & Sat

Wednesday Holiday

  • Inauguration Day: January 20, 2021.

January 20, 2021, (Inauguration Day) is a legal public holiday for employees who are scheduled to work on that day. Unlike other legal public holidays, there is no “in-lieu-of” holiday when Inauguration Day falls on an employee’s scheduled day off.

Thursday Holidays

  • Veterans Day: November 11, 2021
  • Thanksgiving Day: November 25, 2021
“In-Lieu-Of” Days for Thursday Holidays
Scheduled Days Off “In-Lieu-of” Holiday Veterans Day Thanksgiving Day
Sun & Thurs Fri Nov 12 Nov 26
Mon & Thurs
Tues & Thurs
Wed & Thurs
Thurs & Fri Wed Nov 10 Nov 24
Thurs & Sat

Friday Holidays

  • New Year's Day: January 1, 2021
  • D.C. Emancipation Day: April 16, 2021
  • Christmas Day: December 24, 2021
“In-Lieu-Of” Days for Friday Holidays
Scheduled Days Off “In-Lieu-of” Holiday New Year’s Day D.C. Emancipation Day  Christmas Day
Sun & Fri Sat Jan 2 Apr 17 Dec 25
Mon & Fri
Tues & Fri
Wed & Fri
Thurs & Fri
Fri & Sat Thurs Dec 31 Apr 15 Dec 23


Required Work on Holidays and Holiday Premium Pay

Some District government agencies must operate on legal public holidays. For this reason, agencies may schedule employees to work on holidays. However, an employee scheduled to work on a holiday may take annual leave, sick leave, or leave without pay when such leave is approved by the agency according to it leave procedures. If the employee's leave request is not approved, then they are required to report to work on the holiday.

An employee who is scheduled to work on a holiday and does not receive an “in-lieu-of” day will be paid holiday premium pay for that day. Holiday premium pay will only be paid for work actually performed. An employee who performs holiday work is entitled to a minimum of two hours of holiday premium pay. For guidance on holiday premium pay, please refer to Premium Pay – Holiday Premium Pay, E-DPM Issuance No. 11B-73 (Feb. 25, 2010).

Employees Who Are Not Eligible to Receive Holiday Premium Pay

Subject to individual agency policies, employees who are required to work on a holiday but use approved leave will not receive premium holiday pay nor an “in-lieu-of” day. Employees who are paid at Grade 15 or above shall not be entitled to holiday premium pay.

Collective Bargaining Agreements

In the event of a conflict between any of the provisions of this E-DPM issuance and any collective bargaining agreement (CBA), the provisions of the CBA will control to the extent that there is a difference.


  1. Legal public holidays, D.C. Official Code § 1-612.01 (2020).
  2. Premium Pay – Holiday Premium Pay, E-DPM Issuance No. 11B-73 (Feb. 25, 2010).
  3. Legal Public Holidays, E-DPM § 1220 (2020).
  4. Entitlement to Holidays, E-DPM § 1221 (2020).
  5. Determining Holidays, E-DPM § 1222 (2020).


This issuance applies to those District government agencies subordinate to the Mayor’s personnel authority. Other personnel authorities or independent agencies may adopt any of these procedures to provide guidance to employees under their respective jurisdictions. The provisions in this issuance exclude the following employees:

  1. Uniformed members of the Metropolitan Police Department; and
  2. Uniformed members of the Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department.

Additional Information

For additional information concerning this issuance, please contact the Department of Human Resources, Policy and Compliance Administration, by calling (202) 442-9700 or by sending an e-mail to

Issued by Ventris C. Gibson, Director D.C. Department of Human Resources on Oct. 14, 2020, 1:59 p.m.