Nearly 2 out Of 5 American workers will have a paid holiday for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, according to Bloomberg BNA’s Holiday Practices Survey. This represents a high-water mark for the survey, which was first conducted in 1986. Here’s how it stacked up with other paid holidays this year.

  • New Year’s Day 98%
  • Thanksgiving Day 98%
  • Christmas Day 97%
  • Independence Day 97%
  • Labor Day 97%
  • Memorial Day 96%
  • Friday after Thanksgiving 73%
  • Martin Luther KIng Day 37%
  • December 26 37%
  • President’s Day 35%
  • December 24 34%
  • Veteran’s Day 22%
  • Columbus Day 16%

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a federal holiday that commemorates the civil rights leader’s birthday. It’s observed on the third Monday of January in accordance with the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, although his actual birthday is January 15. Only two other people have national holidays in the United States honoring them: George Washington and Christopher Columbus. Wikipedia offers an interesting history of how MLK became a holiday.

Since 1994, the holiday has also been designated as a National Day of Service, encouraging Americans to carry on King’s legacy of service by celebrating “a day on, not a day off.” At the linked site, visitors can find local service opportunities by entering a zip code.

For the 63% of organizations that don’t offer the day as a paid holiday, commemorating the National Day of Service might be a good alternative way to honor Doctor King’s memory. According to the SHRM 2014 Annual Benefits Survey, 16% of the surveyed companies offer paid time off for volunteering, a benefit that has seen growth in recent years. Many organizations see volunteer opportunities as a way to attract and retain talent.

The 2014 Millennial Impact Report by Achieve, a consulting firm, surveyed 1,500 employed millennials—people between the ages of 20 and 34. About a third of respondents said that their companies’ volunteer policies affected their decision to apply for a job, 39 percent said that it influenced their decision to interview, and 55 percent said that such policies played into their decision to accept an offer.

For more on workplace trends in community engagement, see the 2014 Giving in Numbers report, which is issued annually by the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP) and also available as an infographic. The CECP is “a coalition of CEOs united in the belief that societal improvement is an essential measure of business performance.” Their website offers a variety of resources and research, particularly int he area of the business value of community service.


When complex employee issues arise, ESI EAP offers member employers direct access to Certified Senior Professionals in Human Resources (SPHR) and senior clinical counselors. If you need an Employee Assistance Program give us a call: 800-535-4841.

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