On Dec. 1, federal workers petitioned President Obama to give them Christmas Eve off. Whether the petition swayed him or not, the President obliged.
In an executive order issued Dec. 21, President Obama directed that all executive branch departments and agencies will be closed and their employees excused from duty on Monday, December 24, 2012, the day before Christmas Day, except in the event of emergency, national security or other essential needs.
Also See: Government Employee Benefits
In a separate memo to all federal employees, Office of Personnel Management (OPM) director John Berry noted that the order did not apply to Postal Service employees and that most employees who are excused from duty on Christmas Eve will receive the basic pay they would have received if no executive order had been issued.
In addition, Berry specified that employees who had arranged to take annual leave on December 24 prior to the President's order would not be charged with annual leave for the day.
And if you think taking vacation, leave and holidays is easy in the federal workforce, consider this final caveat from OPM director Berry: "Since policies may differ from agency to agency, employees should contact their agency human resources office for information on their agency's policy on holidays, agency field offices should contact their appropriate headquarters-level agency human resources office, and agency headquarters-level may contact Pay and Leave at OPM."
In the past, President Obama gave federal workers a half-day off on Dec. 24, 2009 and President George W. Bush gave them a half-day off on Dec. 24, 2002 and full days off on Dec. 24, 2001, Dec. 26, 2003, Dec. 24, 2007, and Dec. 26, 2008.