SURVEY SAYS – Will You Be Working Columbus Day?

October 8, 2009 ( - Monday, of course, is Columbus Day.

It’s a federal holiday (since 1970) that commemorates the anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the Americas (October 12, 1492 in the Julian calendar and October 21, 1492 in the modern Gregorian calendar).  

Since 1971, Columbus Day has been commemorated in the U.S. on the second Monday in October (that happens to be the same day as Thanksgiving in Canada).   But while it is generally observed by banks, the bond market, the U.S. Postal Service and other federal agencies, as well as most state government offices, and some school districts – but most businesses – and stock exchanges remain open.

“Business as Usual”

This week, I asked readers if they would be working on Monday – and a full 70.5% said it was going to be business as usual – well, except for the mail and some schedule disruptions.   As one reader noted, “My kids have it off school – could they coordinate these days off!”

Nearly 11% said their workplace would be open, but they wouldn’t be working, while roughly 2% noted that their workplace would be closed, but that they would be working.   Only about 10% said that they would be closed AND they wouldn’t be working.

The remaining 8% chose “other” – with most of those indicating that, while they weren’t getting the holiday off, per se, as one reader explained, “We’re open and those who work that day accrue a personal day to be taken at a later date.”

Another reader explained, “The most dreaded phrase in any HR communication is “we’re doing this to emulate industry best practices”. Never seen positive news follow that. That’s why we lost vacation carryover (3 months notice which meant I’d lose accumulated days even if I took the rest of the year off!), for example. Similarly, we dumped three holidays (including Columbus Day) but “we’ll make up for it by giving everyone an additional vacation day that they won’t be forced to use on any particular day”. Good sales job!”

Not everyone viewed it as a negative, of course; ""This is a good holiday for doctors' appointments and car inspections, etc., as it's not as universal a "day off" as some other holidays."

Also in the "other" category was the reader who noted, "We're open but since markets closed for my products, the bosses and workers will leave at 1:30 to play golf together as an fun outing."

There were some fun verbatims, of course - though I couldn't discern if the incredulity was real or "feigned":  

"I've never worked for a company that gets Columbus Day off. Oh to be so fortunate."

"Some people have never heard of Columbus!"

"There's a holiday in October??"

"Define working. I will be "working hard" at my local golf course."

"I guess the tradeoff of working at a bank is low pay, but lots of days off."

"Columbus Day is a Holiday???"

"Hey, Columbus didn't even take the day off...he still had paperwork to finish.

"If Columbus had found that no one was working when he arrived would he have turned around and gone home in disgust or thought he had found paradise?"

But this week's Editor's Choice goes to the reader who reminds us "I don't think mothers ever have a day off."

Thanks to everyone who participated in our survey!