Thirty-seven percent of American employers will provide a paid day off for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, according to Bloomberg BNA’s Holiday Practices Survey of over 350 human resource professionals. The figure represents a high-water mark for the survey, which was first conducted in 1986, and marks a slight uptick from last year’s previous high (35 percent).
“After three decades as a federal holiday, getting Dr. King’s birthday as a paid day off has increased slowly and steadily in prevalence but it remains the exception rather than the norm for the majority of American workers,” said Matt Sottong, Bloomberg BNA’s Director of Surveys and Research Reports. “Among federal holidays, Bloomberg BNA research found that six others are designated as a paid day off with greater frequency — New Year’s Day and Thanksgiving Day (both at 98 percent), Christmas Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day (all at 97 percent) and Memorial Day (96 percent). Dr. King’s birthday remains on par with President’s Day (35 percent) as a paid holiday for workers and is more likely to be declared a paid day off than Veteran’s Day (22 percent) and Columbus Day (16 percent).”
While not a federal holiday, the Friday after Thanksgiving is given as a paid day off by nearly twice as many employers (73 percent) as Dr. King’s birthday. Among other non-federal holidays, 37 percent of organizations provided a full paid day off for Friday, December 26, with nearly as many (34 percent) provided a full paid holiday for Wednesday, December 24 in 2014.
Non-business Organizations Most Likely to Provide a Paid Day Off
As with previous years’ surveys, employees in non-business organizations such as government and educational institutions are far more likely to be given Dr. King’s birthday off with pay than those working in manufacturing and non-manufacturing enterprises. Over six in ten non-business establishments (62 percent) are planning to give the day off with pay. By comparison, 34 percent of non-manufacturing businesses will give workers a compensated day off, and a mere 10 percent of manufacturing establishments will follow suit.
Differences among Organizations by Size and Union Status
Large companies are somewhat more inclined to give workers the day off than smaller ones. Forty-four percent of large companies (1,000 or more employees) will grant a paid holiday to workers, and 34 percent of smaller organizations will do likewise. Forty-four percent of organizations with unions will receive a paid day off for the King holiday, compared with 35 percent of non-unionized establishments.
Organizations that Grant a Paid Day off More Likely to Sponsor Commemorative Events
Nine percent of responding organizations will offer programs or events designed to commemorate Dr. King’s achievements, virtually unchanged from the past two years (10 percent in 2014 and 11 percent in 2013). Seventeen percent of employers who will grant a paid holiday in 2015 will also hold programs or events to recognize Dr. King’s achievements. By contrast, only 5 percent of companies that opt not to make January 19 a paid holiday will provide opportunities for employees to commemorate Dr. King in some organized fashion.
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