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Barack Obama gives federal employees part of Christmas Eve off

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Posted at 4:11 PM, Dec 11, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-11 17:11:12-05

While many federal employees were hoping for a four-day weekend, President Barack Obama signed an executive order allowing government workers to go home early on Christmas Eve.

With Christmas falling on a Friday this year, federal employees were hoping Obama would sign an executive order allowing employees to take all of Dec. 24 off. While recent presidents, including Obama, have ordered federal offices to close on Christmas Eve, typically this only happens when Christmas Eve falls on a Monday. When Christmas is on a Saturday, Christmas Eve is automatically observed as a federal holiday.

More than 26,000 people had signed a petition on the White House's website to ask the president for a full day off on Christmas Eve. But Christmas Eve is not considered a federal holiday, and Obama could have ordered employees to work a full day on Dec. 24 before getting a three-day weekend.

The order, which essentially closes the federal government after Noon on Dec. 24, does not apply to essential government personnel who maintain the nation's defense and homeland security. 

Last year with Christmas falling on a Thursday, Obama closed the federal government on Dec. 26, giving employees a four-day weekend. In 2010, federal workers got a full day off on Dec. 24 as Christmas Eve was observed as a national holiday as Christmas was on a Saturday. In 2009, Obama gave workers half a day off on Christmas Eve.