Juneteenth holiday: Federal employees take the day to celebrate the country's newest holiday

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The majority of federal employees are taking the day off Friday in order to recognize the first federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery. 

On Thursday, President Biden signed legislation establishing Juneteenth, or June 19, as the 12th federal holiday. 

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However, since June 19 falls on a Saturday this year, most federal employees will observe the new holiday — Juneteenth National Independence Day — on Friday, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, which is the human resources office for the federal government, tweeted Thursday. 

As a result, federal employees now have 44 paid days off each year, according to Forbes. 

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas — two months after the Confederacy had surrendered. That was also about two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in the Southern states.

It’s the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was created in 1983. One of the federal holidays, Inauguration Day, happens every four years. 

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Droves of companies and major financial institutions are also giving their employees the day off or allowing them to use a floating holiday to observe Juneteenth.

This year, close to 800 companies are officially observing Juneteenth, San Fransisco-based initiative HellaCreative confirmed to FOX Business. 

However, a slew of companies, including Nike, Twitter, Square, Mastercard, Adobe, Postmates, Quicken Loans, Target, Ben & Jerry's and Workday, first began observing Juneteenth as a paid holiday for employees last year after demonstrations and protests over the death of George Floyd erupted across the nation.

"We recognize that the racial trauma the country is experiencing now is not new, but throughout recent weeks there has been a sense that this time is, and has to be, different," Target CEO Brian Cornell said in a statement. "Juneteenth takes on additional significance in this moment."

This year, major banks, such as JPMorgan Chase & Co., are offering a floating day off for the newly implemented federal holiday, according to Reuters, which obtained a copy of an internal employee memo. Wells Fargo and UBS have also revealed similar plans. 

JPMORGAN, UBS, WELLS FARGO TO ALLOW US EMPLOYEES TAKE DAY OFF FOR JUNETEENTH

"This is a day of profound weight and profound power, a day in which we remember the moral stain, the terrible toll that slavery took on the country and continues to take," Biden said. 

The vast majority of states already recognize Juneteenth as a holiday or have an official observance of the day, and most states hold celebrations. 

Juneteenth is a paid holiday for state employees in Texas, New York, Virginia and Washington.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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