Cover of the printed BIMCO Holiday Calendar 2024

What is Juneteenth? And how can the BIMCO Holiday Calendar help you?

Published: 10 June 2024

The nineteenth day of June is often known as “Juneteenth” in the USA. But what does this mean for laytime, for example

The day marks the anniversary of the announcement finally ending slavery in the United States.

Many states in the US have observed this as a holiday but until 2021, it had never officially been a nationwide holiday until President Biden declared it to be a national holiday.

In 2022, our member Falcon Maritime’s charterer took this to mean that as the 19th was a Sunday in 2022, then Monday the 20th would be an official holiday for laytime purposes, as holidays are usually observed on the nearest weekday.

What Falcon’s charterer didn’t take into consideration, though, was quite complex:

  • The US President does not have the power to declare nationwide holidays – only federal holidays. These only apply to federal workers and the District of Columbia
  • The State of Louisiana’s legislation declares Juneteenth as “the third Saturday in June”
  • The Governor of Louisiana had issued a proclamation that Juneteenth would be observed on Friday 17 June in 2022.

Whether "Juneteenth” was a holiday for laytime calculations in 2022 was therefore difficult to determine.

So let’s take a step back and look at the definition of a holiday* for laytime calculations:

  1. It must have been declared a holiday
  2. The declaration must have been made by a competent authority.

The fact that it was President Biden who made the declaration might seem that both points are valid but in fact, the US President does not have the power to declare nationwide holidays – only federal holidays. These only apply to federal workers and the District of Columbia. So a holiday in a US port such as New Orleans needs to be declared by the relevant state government.

If the state has declared it, then it counts for laytime. If it is simply a non-working day according to a local agreement between a port authority and trade unions, for example, then it does not count for laytime unless explicitly stated in your charter party.

So what’s the bottom line here?

The federal holiday is irrelevant, as it does not apply to Louisiana

  • Any agreement in the port about a non-working day is irrelevant, as that is not a declaration by a competent authority
  • It is the Louisiana legislation and proclamation which determine the holiday.

BIMCO was able to identify the relevant legislation and proclamations from Louisiana which confirmed that Juneteenth therefore fell on Friday 17 June 2022 there, and so it was that day which was a holiday for the purposes of laytime.

Monday 20 June 2022 was, on the other hand, a normal working day for laytime calculations.

“Our Charterers accepted the advice from BIMCO and a settlement was made on that basis,” said Mette Holm-Hansen, Senior Operations Manager at Falcon Maritime.

The BIMCO Holiday Calendar is a major benefit of being a member of BIMCO, as our calendar can assist you in determining laytime calculations – and our personal advice in the case of disagreements can help save you a lot of money.

The BIMCO Holiday Calendar is available for purchase, and members can access updates on the BIMCO website as well as receive personal advice from us.

This year, in 2024, Juneteenth in Louisiana is observed on 15 June.


* This stems from a 1979 London Arbitration Award:

 “A holiday, by law and accepted practice, is a day which the competent authority has declared or decreed to be a holiday. It is irrelevant whether work is or is not performed on such holiday, or whether work is charged at normal or overtime rates [...] What matters and the only point which matters is whether the competent authority has declared the day in question to be a holiday”.

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Johan Conrad


Johan Conrad

Manager, Maritime Information

Copenhagen, Denmark