Number of the Day

Less Than Half of U.S. Companies Give Employees MLK Day Off

Honoring the civil rights icon seems like the bare minimum — especially this year

Marker Editors
Published in
2 min readJan 14, 2021
45%: The share of U.S. companies that give employees a paid day off on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Source: CNBC
Photo illustration, source: © Santiago Urquijo/Moment/Getty

45%: That’s the share of U.S. companies that gives employees a paid day off on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, according to a 2019 Bloomberg Law survey, as reported by CNBC.

Since 1983, the third Monday in January has been observed as a federal holiday that honors civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. — though it took until the year 2000 for the holiday to be observed in all 50 states.

While the number of companies that observe MLK day as a holiday has been trending upward (only 28% of companies gave employees the day off in 2009), and it’s more popular with employers than other federal holidays like President’s Day and Veteran’s Day, it’s still a little shocking that fewer than half of all companies give their workers the day off. Following a year that has seen a pandemic decimate communities of color; in which widespread protests were triggered by the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of police; and that was capped off with the election of Georgia’s first Black senator on the same day that a white supremacist mob stormed the U.S. Capitol carrying Confederate flags, it would seem appropriate for every company to observe the holiday dedicated to America’s most prominent Black civil rights icon.

It’s been a year of corporations making mealymouthed statements of solidarity with Black Americans. Giving their workers Martin Luther King Jr. Day off seems like the bare minimum they can do to back them up.

Does your company give you MLK Day off? If not, why not?

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