Juneteenth Federal Holiday / Guidance for Employers with SCA or DBRA Contracts

June 18, 2021
3 min read

The House and Senate both overwhelmingly passed a bill this week to add Juneteenth to the list of federal holidays, and President Biden signed the legislation into law Thursday afternoon.  Juneteenth is celebrated on June 19 and commemorates the arrival of Union troops in Galveston, Texas, following the end of the Civil War, marking the effective end of slavery in the United States more than two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. The holiday is already recognized by 48 states and the District of Columbia.

Because June 19 falls on a Saturday this year, the Juneteenth federal holiday will be observed Friday, according to the Office of Personnel Management, which oversees the roughly 2.1 million federal civilian workforce.

From an SCA/DBRA perspective, each Wage Determination (WD) specifies the required number of holidays, and these holidays are generally named in the WD (e.g., Independence Day, Christmas Day, etc.). Employers may comply by providing a different designated holiday than listed on the WD, if communicated to employees.

Given the rapid progression of the legislation this week, the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division has not yet commented on the incorporation of the new Juneteenth holiday into Wage Determinations. In the absence of WHD guidance, government contractor employers with SCA and DBRA employees are encouraged to follow the existing paid holiday rules in their applicable Wage Determination(s), unless specifically provide a different directive, in writing, from their Contracting Officer.

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