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January 21, 2013

Is MLK Day a Holiday for Your Organization?

Filed under: General HR Buzz6:00 am

With Christmas already a distant memory, many employees are probably ready for another holiday.  Well, you are in luck if you work for 31% of the employers who observe Martin Luther King Day, which is Monday, January 21.  About 3 in 10 nonfederal employers will give all or most workers Monday off with pay, according to a recent survey from the Bloomberg Bureau of National Affairs.  Organizations with a union presence are more likely to observe the holiday, along with federal employers.

In case you are wondering when Martin Luther King Day became an official holiday, keep reading for a little history refresher.  Martin Luther King is best known for his nonviolent activism in the civil rights movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law.   Following his assassination in 1968, a campaign began for a federal holiday in King’s honor.  It wasn’t until 1983, however, when it was signed into law by Ronald Reagan, and first observed on January 20, 1996.  At first, some states resisted observing the holiday as such and even used alternate names or combined it with other holidays.  In 2000, it was officially observed in all 50 states on the 3rd Monday in January.

It may be said that Martin Luther King brought to light many issues which resulted in changes in HR laws regarding discrimination and diversity.  Whether or not your company observes the day as a paid holiday, it’s a great time to reflect and remember some of the quotes from Martin Luther King.

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

From the “I Have a Dream” speech, Aug. 28, 1963


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