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AGO 1978 No. 7 - March 09, 1978
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Slade Gorton | 1969-1980 | Attorney General of Washington

HOLIDAYS ‑- LABOR ‑- MUNICIPAL EMPLOYEES ‑- PAID HOLIDAYS UNDER RCW 1.16.050 AS AMENDED

Under the provisions of RCW 1.16.050, as amended by § 1, chapter 111, Laws of 1977, 1st Ex. Sess., the employees of a political subdivision remain entitled to one paid "floating" holiday per year but only in the absence of either an employment contract or a local ordinance or resolution which either expressly or impliedly excludes such a holiday.

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                                                                   March 9, 1978

Honorable Jim Boldt
State Representative, 8th Dist.
18000 Pacific Highway S., Suite 500
Seattle, Washington 98188

                                                                                                                   Cite as:  AGO 1978 No. 7

Dear Sir:

            By recent letter you have requested our opinion on a question which we paraphrase as follows:

            Under the provisions of RCW 1.16.050, as amended by § 1, chapter 111, Laws of 1977, 1st Ex. Sess., do the employees of a political subdivision remain entitled to one paid "floating" holiday per year in the absence of either an employment contract or a local ordinance or resolution which either expressly or impliedly excludes such a holiday?

            We answer your question in the affirmative for the reasons set forth in our analysis.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            In AGO 1977 No. 3 [[to Charles D. Kilbury, State Representative, on January 11, 1977]], copy enclosed, this office took note of the then existing provisions of RCW 1.16.050, as amended by § 1, chapter 24, Laws of 1975-76, 2nd Ex. Sess., and concluded that all employees of the state and its political subdivisions,

            ". . . are now entitled to such paid holidays, whether concurrent with legal holidays or otherwise, as are lawfully provided for by their employment contracts or their employer's equivalent compensation policiesand, in addition, they are entitled to one 'floating' paid holiday each year, irrespective of whether or not it is provided for in their particular employment contracts;. . ."  (Emphasis supplied)

            Furthermore, in so concluding, we specifically said that since this additional "floating" holiday was one to which the employees were statutorily entitled, as a matter of public policy declared by the legislature,

            ". . . any attempt by an employer to take it away by contract executed after the effective date (February 20, 1976) of the law would, in our judgment, be void as contrary to public policy. . . ."

            Subsequently, however, presumably with this attorney general's opinion in mind, the legislature amended RCW 1.16.050 once again.  See, § 1, chapter 111, Laws of 1977, 1st Ex. Sess., which, here set forth in bill form for ease of understanding, reads as follows:

            "The following are legal holidays:  Sunday; the first day of January, commonly called New Year's Day; the twelfth day of February, being the anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln; the third Monday of February, being celebrated as the anniversary of the birth of George Washington; the last Monday of May, commonly known as Memorial Day; the fourth day of July, being the anniversary of  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] the Declaration of Independence; the first Monday in September, to be known as Labor Day; the eleventh day of November, to be known as Veterans' Day; the fourth Thursday in November, to be known as Thanksgiving Day; the day immediately following Thanksgiving Day; and the twenty-fifth day of December, commonly called Christmas Day.

            "Employees of the state and its political subdivisions, except employees of school districts and except those non-classified employees of institutions of higher education who hold appointments or are employed under contracts to perform services for periods of less than twelve consecutive months, shall be entitled to one paid holiday per calendar year in addition to those specified in this section.  Each employee of the state or its political subdivisions may select the day on which the employee desires to take the additional holiday provided for herein after consultation with the employer pursuant to guidelines to be promulgated by rule of the appropriate personnel authority, or in the case of local government by ordinance or resolution of the legislative authority.

            "((Nothing in this section shall be construed to have the effect of adding or deleting the number of paid holidays provided for in an existing agreement between employees and employers of political subdivisions of the state.))

            "If any of the above specified state legal holidays are also federal legal holidays but observed on different dates, only the state legal holidays shall be recognized as a paid legal holiday for employees of the state and its political subdivisions except that for port districts and the law enforcement and public transit employees of municipal corporations, either the federal or the state legal holiday, but in no case both, may be recognized as a paid legal holiday for employees.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 4]]

            "Whenever any legal holiday, other than Sunday, falls upon a Sunday, the following Monday shall be ((a)) the legal holiday.

            "Whenever any legal holiday falls upon a Saturday, the preceding Friday shall be the legal holiday.

            "Nothing in this section shall be construed to have the effect of adding or deleting the number of paid holidays provided for in an agreement between employees and employers of political subdivisions of the state or as established by ordinance or resolution of the local government legislative authority."

            Your present question, in essence, involves the impact of this intervening amendment on our earlier opinion.  Our answer may be very briefly stated and it is as follows:

            As before, the employees of a political subdivision are statutorily entitled, independent of any local ordinance, resolution or contract provision, to one "floating" paid holiday each year.1/   Unlike the situation which previously prevailed, however, that holiday may now be eliminated at the local level by an ordinance, resolution or appropriate contractual provision.  This is so, simply stated, because of the new, final paragraph of the statute which says that:

            "Nothing in this section shall be construed to have the effect of adding or deleting the number of paid holidays provided for in an agreement between employees and employers of political subdivisions of the state or as established by ordinance or resolution of the local government legislative authority."

            The significance of this amendment, as related to our prior opinion, thus only pertains to so much thereof as denied the possibility of a modification of the state holiday  [[Orig. Op. Page 5]] schedule at the local, municipal, level.  Now, because of the amendment, the overall situation in the case of persons employed by the various political subdivisions of our state is as follows:

            (1) Such employees are statutorily entitled to one floating paid holiday per year in those instances in which either ‑

            (a) There is no local ordinance, resolution or agreement (applicable to the particular employees) in effect at all; or


            (b) There is such an ordinance, resolution or agreement and it expressly provides for such a statutory paid floating holiday by referring to or incorporating the provisions of the statute itself.

            (2) On the other hand, the employees of a political subdivision are no longer entitled by statute to a paid floating holiday if they are covered by a local ordinance, resolution or agreement which expressly or by negative implication excludes the statutory paid floating holiday.2/

             We trust that the foregoing will be of some assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

SLADE GORTON
Attorney General


PHILIP H. AUSTIN
Deputy Attorney General


ROBERT F. HAUTH
Senior Assistant Attorney General

                                                        ***   FOOTNOTES   ***

1/Except, in accordance with the amendment, school district employees who are now governed, instead, exclusively by the provisions of RCW 28A.02.061.

2/For instance a political subdivision, pursuant to the amendment, might list certain state holidays and then, either expressly or by negative implication, exclude any floating holiday from the list or, instead, provide a different kind of holiday, floating holiday, or other benefit in lieu of the statutory floating holiday.

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