Obama executive order: Federal employees can go home early on Christmas Eve

WASHINGTON — Merry Christmas, federal workers: President Obama says you can go home early on Christmas Eve.

Obama signed the executive order Friday, declaring that "All executive branch departments and agencies of the federal government shall be closed and their employees excused from duty for the last half of the scheduled workday," on Dec. 24.

The order allows agencies to make an exception "for reasons of national security, defense, or other public need."

Workers will still be paid for a full day, and the Office of Management of Budget said the executive order would have an unknown cost to taxpayers. "The benefits of the executive order include recognizing the dedication of federal employees serving the public, improving workforce morale, and valuing a family-friendly work environment," OMB Director Shaun Donovan said in a report to Congress.

The half-day is less than what many federal employees wanted. A petition posted on the White House web site — signed by 26,365 people as of Friday — asks for a full day off.

"Federal employees work extremely hard year after year to carry out our mission statement as public servants," the petition reads. "Although we are a family at work, giving federal employees Christmas Eve off to spend with their families at home would not only be a wonderful gift from our president but would also boost morale in the workplace and within ourselves."

Christmas falls on a Friday this year. Last year, Obama gave federal employees a full day off on Dec. 26, which was also on Friday. During his presidency, George W. Bush gave federal employees four days off during Christmas week.

Culled from USA today