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More People Will Get Juneteenth Off This Year, But Half Say They Won’t Be Paid For It

By Ella Ceron

One year after President Joe Biden declared Juneteenth a federal holiday, more companies are giving their employees the day off — but not always paying them.

GALVESTON, TX – JUNE 19: Spectators watch Juneteenth Parade commemorating the end of slavery in the United States on June 19, 2021 in Galveston, Texas. Juneteenth celebrations, now recognized as a federal holiday, are taking place around the country in recognition of the emancipation of African-American slaves. (Photo by Go Nakamura/Getty Images)

In a survey of 1,030 American workers by job-search database Randstad USA, 43.5% of respondents said they have the day off for Juneteenth — an 11% increase from a year ago. This year, because Juneteenth falls on a Sunday, a number of companies are commemorating the day on Monday, June 20. On Wall Street, the day is considered a market holiday starting this year.  

Read more: What Is Juneteenth and How Did It Become a US Holiday?

Of the workers who have a day off, half said they wouldn’t be paid for it and another 9% said they have to use their paid time off to take the day. (That was the case at Tesla as of June 2020.) 

Less than a third of White Americans had “a lot” or “some knowledge” about Juneteenth, a Gallup poll released last year found. Randstad’s survey found around a quarter of respondents didn’t know the significance of the day, either. The holiday gets its name from the day the Union army arrived in Galveston, Texas, to announce that enslaved Black Americans were free. Texas was the last state in the Confederacy to learn that the Civil War had ended and that slavery had been abolished. 

Instead of merely giving employees an extra holiday, diversity and inclusion experts suggest providing workers opportunities to commemorate the day with lectures, community service, or celebrations with Black employee resource groups. 

Around of  20% of workers said their companies were offering programming in addition to the day off, and 17.5% were engaging in community service, the Randstad survey found. A roughly equal share who had the holiday off said their employers did not plan anything additional. 

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