Emory Healthcare drops Christmas Eve, adds Juneteenth to paid holidays list

This is the last year Emory Healthcare employees will get Christmas Eve off with pay unless they use a PTO day.

Instead, they will get June 19, or Juneteenth, off. While President Joe Biden declared the date a federal holiday in 2021, the switch has not been without controversy.

“I don’t understand why they can’t do both,” DeKalb County NAACP president Edwina Clanton (no relation to this author) told Atlanta News First.

“I’m sure it will put anger in some hearts,” she added. “Why do we have to do this? Why can’t we have our old holidays off? Some more consideration, even asking the employees which days you want to give up, that may have worked better.”

Dr. Joon Sup Lee, CEO of Emory Healthcare, said in a memo that leadership did not want to add another paid holiday, noting Emory already offers nine each year. Other Atlanta health systems offer only six, Lee noted.

“For each observed holiday, our clinics and business offices close, which means our patients are unable to make clinic appointments for those days,” he said. “To minimize the impact on patient care, we will not be adding another paid holiday to our calendar.”

An Emory spokesperson issued this statement: “In response to requests from our care team members over the past few years, we are pleased to add Juneteenth to the holidays we recognize. At Emory Healthcare, we strive to support our employees and our diverse communities in recognizing holidays that are meaningful and important to them. Christmas has been, and will remain, a recognized holiday. However, beginning in 2024, we will remove Christmas Eve as a recognized holiday and replace it with Juneteenth. We are committed to providing our patients as much access to care as possible and always consider this factor in decisions regarding holidays.”

Emory Healthcare is the nonprofit organization that runs Emory’s 11 hospitals and 250 clinics, labs and other facilities, and is home to 24,000-plus employees.

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