Martin Luther King Jr. Day


Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It’s a national holiday in America. Some schools are closed. Some businesses are closed. We don’t get mail.

When I worked in Human Resources, some people were ambivalent about the holiday.

  • We just came back to work from the December holidays. I don’t need the day off. I want a day off in August.
  • This isn’t a real holiday. Can I come to work?
  • Our competitors are in the office and they’re working. Why do I get the day off?

I’m hardly amazed when people complain, and none of this surprised me. The holiday has a rough history, and many companies treat the holiday like Presidents Day. The meaning of the day is lost in the course of doing business.

I told my former employees that I’m not a mom. I’m not the HR police. They could do whatever they want on a paid day off — including catching up on work, projects, or office gossip. I really didn’t care. Then I took the opporutnity to clarify some misconceptions.

  1. If anyone is confused about whether or not MLK Jr Day is a real holiday, check with the federal government.
  2. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday is often called a day of service. That’s more than you can say about Columbus Day.
  3. You could do worse than spend a day thinking about a man who was assassinated while marching for sanitation workers’ rights.

People find a reason to complain about everything — including a paid day off work.

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