State vs Federal Holidays – How they Impact Consultants

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Monday is Columbus Day.  A recognized federal government holiday where all federal offices and banks are closed.  However, it is not recognized in 27 states.  Interestingly enough not one west coast state celebrates the holiday while all of the east coast states minus Florida, New Hampshire, and Vermont do.  Then we have states that use the same day for other holidays.  South Dakota has Native Americans Day and Hawaii has Discoverers’ Day for example.  Both are official state holidays. Every year I am asked the same question, “Do I get the 2nd Monday of October off as a recognized holiday.”  Sadly, the answer is no for most consultants.

There are 11 federal holidays which include; New Year’s Day, MLK Day, President’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.  Hospitals often provide these but allow for a “float holiday” to be used on any day.  If you are in one of those 27 states that does not recognize Columbus Day you are out of luck.  However the list may also contain various religious holidays like Easter or Yom Kippur, which is a public holiday in Texas by the way.  There are several state holidays to consider as well.  Massachusetts and Maine celebrate Patriots Day for example.  I strongly encourage you to ask your firm and your client for a complete list of recognized holidays.

Regardless of all these variations of holidays, you should plan your travel around the client’s expectations for their full time employees.  While being a consultant who lives in another state may warrant you wanting the day off, I suggest you follow the client’s normal process. Ask well in advance…and plan accordingly.  Even for those big holidays like Christmas…is the day after or day before recognized?  Are you required to travel if the holiday is mid-week?  These are all things you should get clarified well in advance.  IT offices don’t shut down in hospitals, ever.  You may be asked to work on those holidays you would otherwise expected off.

Have you ever thought you had a holiday off but didn’t at a client?  Share your experience in the comments field below.

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