On June 17, 2021, President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law making Juneteenth a national holiday. Juneteenth is now a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the emancipation of African American slaves. Federal employees will receive Juneteenth holiday as well as all state employees [with one exception: South Dakota]. Large companies such as Nike, Target and JCPenney as well as many small businesses, towns, and municipalities, are following suit adding Juneteenth as a holiday in 2022.
What does this look like for non-federal employers? Making the decision to recognize or not recognize Juneteenth is the first step. For employers with unions, make sure the unions are involved in that decision. For employers with boards of directors or executive committees that make these decisions, now is the time to put this issue on the agenda to discuss. Some employers are replacing an existing or “floating” holiday with Juneteenth, while others are just adding to the holidays employees are provided. It is important to be mindful of the budgetary impacts this may have, as essential workers will still be required to work, which may implicate compensation for those who work holidays.
Once a decision has been made to add the additional holiday, there may be some work to be done. Handbooks and locations where benefits are listed will need to be undated and payroll processors will need to be notified. Some municipalities will not only have to edit their handbooks to reflect the change, but may need approval of boards and councils to add a holiday. Communicating the additional holiday to your team is the next step in the process. Be sure all employees are aware that they will have an additional day off in 2022 and update onboarding documents accordingly. While June 2022 seems like a long time away, NOW is the time to start planning for the change!