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President Barack Obama is handing out holiday gifts a weeks ahead of time by telling federal workers they can go home early on Christmas Eve.

To make this official, on Friday, December 11, POTUS signed an executive order stating that full-time workers in executive branch departments and federal agencies will only have to work four hours on Thursday, December 24 and can leave as early as noon. Even better: All employees will be paid for a full day and those who requested half-days ahead of time off using vacation or flextime will be given back those hours.

However, in case of a national security emergency or other pressing issues, the government has the right to make workers stay longer, USA Today notes.

This order will affect millions of people working across the nation in numerous agencies such as the Department of Justice, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Defense to name a few.

It’s not clear what this half-day means for taxpayers’ pockets, but in a report to Congress, the director of the Office of Management of Budget, Shaun Donovan wrote, “The benefits of the executive order include recognizing the dedication of federal employees serving the public, improving workforce morale, and valuing a family-friendly work environment.”

While some may be happy with the little extra time off, there have been a few petitions circulating, including one with more than 26,000 signatures from federal workers demanding that December 24 be a full-paid vacation day. The petition’s stance is that giving them this paid holiday time would help boost morale, especially given the tumultuous year they claim they’ve had.

“We feel unappreciated with pay freezes and constant threats of government shutdowns. Being with our relatives is so important during this time and would mean everything. Giving federal employees Thursday December 24th off paid, would go a long way in showing that we deserve nothing but the best for our daily contributions in serving the people and would show how much our accomplishments and dedication deserves,” the author wrote.

Federal holiday time off is at mostly at the discretion of the POTUS and can differ under each leader. Last year, President Obama gave federal workers December 26 off, given that it fell on a Friday.


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