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DHS Employees Receive Extra Day Off Thanks to ‘Santa’ Mayorkas on Non-Labor Day

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is granting an extra day of leave to the department’s 260,000 employees, adding to the over $1 billion worth of vacation time he has already given out during his tenure. The additional day off is seen as a reward for the employees’ dedication to securing the homeland and advancing the nation. Mr. Mayorkas expressed his appreciation for their hard work and referred to them as the most dedicated and talented workforce.

This announcement comes shortly after reports that Mr. Mayorkas has already provided 115 hours of leave since taking office in 2021, amounting to at least $1.2 billion in taxpayer-funded time off. The latest grant of eight hours adds up to over $80 million in paid time that may not be worked. Some employees believe that this generosity is an attempt by Mr. Mayorkas to win their favor, while others within the department are grateful for the time off and have nicknamed him “Santa Mayorkas.”

The Department of Homeland Security often ranks low in terms of employee morale, especially with the ongoing challenges related to immigration. The department has had to redirect workers to handle the increased influx of illegal immigrants at the border, putting additional strain on its resources. In acknowledgment of these challenges, the department stated that offering administrative leave serves the public interest by contributing to employee morale.

Administrative leave is not considered vacation and is categorized as an excused absence with pay. Federal rules limit employees to 10 days of administrative leave per year. While the rules discourage using administrative leave as a performance award, department heads like Mr. Mayorkas have the discretion to decide when it is appropriate. Former Customs and Border Protection head Mark Morgan believes that Secretary Mayorkas is operating within legal boundaries and, though questioning his motives, acknowledges that most of the personnel receiving the additional time off deserve it.

Some critics argue that it is ironic for Mr. Mayorkas to provide more time off to improve morale when his immigration policies have overwhelmed and overworked front-line personnel. They claim that instead of addressing the root issues and enforcing the law, the secretary is attempting to appease employees with monetary rewards. However, it is unlikely that the additional time off will fundamentally change the sentiments of the employees affected.

The story about Secretary Mayorkas’s generosity sparked a discussion on FedSmith.com, a news site and forum popular among federal employees.

Unique Perspective: The decision to give additional time off to DHS employees can be seen as an effort to recognize their hard work and dedication in securing the nation. However, it also raises questions about using taxpayer funds for non-worked hours and whether such rewards truly address the underlying issues within the Department of Homeland Security. Balancing the need for employee morale with efficient use of resources remains a challenge for any organization.

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