In 2021, President Joe Biden signed legislation into law that established June 19 as Juneteenth National Independence Day, a federal holiday. Assembly Bill (AB) 1655, introduced by Assembly Members Jones-Sawyer, Mia Bonta, and Akilah Weber, aims to amend Sections 37220, 45203, 79020, and 88203 of the Education Code, as well as Sections 6700, 19853, and 19853.1 of the Government Code, to make June 19, known as “Juneteenth,” a California state holiday.
If AB 1655 is approved by the Legislature and signed into law, June 19th will become a permanent official holiday for California public schools, community colleges, and the California State University systems. Paid time off for the holiday would also be granted to all state employees.
OMLO has previously covered the question of whether Juneteenth is a paid holiday for school district employees. At the time, our firm shared that it was reasonable to conclude that June 18, 2021, was a day of school closure and should be recognized as a paid holiday for classified employees under the applicable Education Code provisions above. However, as noted, any final designation of Juneteenth as a paid holiday would be for 2021 specifically, with any recurring Juneteenth paid holidays to be negotiated between school districts and their exclusive representatives.
The passage of AB 1655, which is currently moving through the Senate review and approval process, would remove any ambiguity as to how school districts and community colleges treat Juneteenth moving forward by amending the applicable Education Code sections to specify that holidays created by federal legislation signed by the President, with the exception of Columbus Day, are considered days appointed as a holiday. OMLO will monitor developments carefully and will continue to provide updates as they become available. If you have any questions about how districts are treating the Juneteenth holiday, contact your OMLO attorney.