On June 17, 2021, President Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, establishing June 19 as a federal holiday. Juneteenth celebrates the emancipation of African Americans from slavery on the date that many of the last of the enslaved were freed by the Union Army in 1865. This Act went into effect immediately – with the federal government and its employees observing it on June 18, 2021.

What does this new federal holiday mean for California employers? Fortunately - very little.

California law does not mandate that employers observe any specific holiday by closing its business nor does it require that an employer offer holiday pay. Employers who do offer holiday pay should include a list of holidays observed in their employee handbook.

Employers are not required to offer any additional holidays closures beyond what they have promised. Given the recent formalization of Juneteenth as a holiday, any employer who does not have it listed as a holiday for purposes of office closure or holiday pay will not be liable for conducting normal business on June 18, 2021.

At the end of the year, employers should review their handbooks and determine what holidays they will offer off to employees and/or which holidays they will offer holiday pay. For now, employers do not have to change their policies with the news of this new federal holiday.