Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 1954 No. 291 -
Attorney General Don Eastvold


County hospitals are not required by statute to observe the legal holidays defined by law but only those designated by the board of trustees of such institutions.

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                                                                  August 2, 1954

Honorable Charles O. Carroll
Prosecuting Attorney
King County
County City Building
Seattle 4, Washington                                                                                                  Cite as:  AGO 53-55 No. 291

Attention:  !ttMr. Paul C. Gibbs, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney

Dear Sir:

            In a recently acknowledged letter you requested an opinion from this office relative to the number of legal holidays county hospitals are to observe.  The specific question asked is:

            "Are county hospitals, partially supported by State funds, obligated to observe certain holidays?"

            It is our opinion that such hospitals are not required to observe state holidays, but only such holidays as the board of trustees of such institution shall designate.


            The holidays officially observed in this state‑-legal holidays‑-are set forth in RCW 1.16.050:

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            "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 twenty-second day of February, being the anniversary of the birth of George Washington; the thirtieth day of May, commonly known as Memorial Day; the fourth day of July, being the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence; the first Monday in September, to be known as Labor Day; the twelfth day of October, to be known as Columbus Day; the eleventh day of November, to be known as Armistice Day; the twenty-fifth day of December, commonly called Christmas Day; the day on which any general election is held throughout the state; and any day designated by public proclamation of the chief executive of the state as a legal holiday, or as a day of thanksgiving.

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

            It is provided in RCW 42.04.060, inferentially at least, that state offices shall not remain open on legal holidays:

            "All state elective and appointive officers shall keep their offices open for the transaction of business from eight o'clock a.m., to five o'clock p.m. of each business day from Monday through Friday, holidays excepted.  On Saturday, such offices may be closed.

            "This section shall not apply to the courts of record of this state or to their officers nor to the office of the attorney general and the lieutenant governor."  (Emphasis supplied)

            There is no similar statute relating to county offices or county employees.  On the contrary, RCW 36.16.100, governing working hours for county offices, provides:

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            "All county and precinct offices shall be kept open for the transaction of business during such hours as the board of county commissioners shall by resolution prescribe."

            This statute probably applies only to county "offices" in the true legal sense, which would not include a county hospital.  But the statute relating specifically to county hospitals has a provision broad enough to vest the same powers in the hospital board of trustees.  RCW 36.62.190 provides, in part:

            "The board of trustees may:

            "(1) Adopt bylaws and rules for its own guidance and for the government of the hospital or institution;"

            Thus it is clear that, as a matter of law, boards of trustees of county hospitals are not compelled to observe the holidays set forth in RCW 1.16.050.  The fact that such institutions receive financial aid from the state is immaterial for no state law requires the observance of these holidays as a condition precedent to the receipt of such aid.

            Although there is no legal compulsion upon such boards, it seems apparent that the statute was intended to constitute an expression of the public policy of the state as a whole.  For the sake of uniformity, practically all political subdivisions do observe these holidays, even though in many cases the matter is discretionary with their governing body.  We think it should be the same with county hospitals, even though legally the matter of observance of holidays is discretionary with the various boards of trustees.  There are strong, moral reasons for following the pattern established by law for state offices.  There would seem to be every reason why such boards should exercise the discretion vested in them by law to accomplish this result, and little reason to act to the contrary.

            Our conclusion must be that the law leaves to the discretion of the boards of trustees of county hospitals, the matter of observance of legal holidays.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General