We hope you enjoy reading this blog post!

Break-free from HR chaos. Focus on People! - Get sumHR for FREE

s logo

Exploring the purpose and benefits of optional holidays


Every individual cherishes holidays as a time for relaxation, celebration, or rejuvenation with family to return to the workplace with a fresh mind. While every employee is familiar with the traditional paid leaves in organisations, a lesser-known category of leaves is optional holidays. These leaves let employees commit to a festival celebration or observe occasions with personal and cultural significance. Optional holidays, also called restricted holidays, help bring diverse cultural tapestry to modern workplaces.


As the name suggests, optional holidays are not mandatory for employees, but they can choose the period of taking the leave from the staff attendance and payroll management application. Meanwhile, the organisation’s normal operations continue while an employee or some employees are on optional leave.


Employees can take leaves from the list the company’s human resource management presents. The list is created per the Shop and Establishment Act of the state where the company is located. In this blog, let’s understand the purpose and number of optional holidays granted in India.


List of Optional Holidays in India in 2023


The central government of India releases an optional or restricted holiday list for every state. It specifically belongs to those employees who follow a particular religion or culture and must take a leave other than sick or casual leaves.

Name of Holiday


Guru Govind Singh’s Birthday

05 January 2023


13 January 2023

Makar Sankranti/Magha Bihu/Pongal

15 January 2023

Shri Ganesh Jayanti

25 January 2023

Hazarat Ali’s Birthday

04 February 2023

Maha Shivratri

18 February 2023

Holika Dahan/Dolyatra/Pessah (Jew)

07 March 2023


20 April 2023

Shavuot (Jew)

25–27 May 2023

Rath Yatra

20 June 2023

Guru Purnima

03 July 2023

Parsai New Year/Navroz

16 August 2023

Onam/Thiruvonam Day

Aug 20, 2023 – Thu, Aug 31, 2023

Nag Panchami

21 August 2023

Raksha Bandhan

30 August 2022

Janmashtami (Smarta)/Shri Krishna Jayanti

06 September 2023

Rosh Hashanah (Jew)

15 September 2023

Yom Kippur (Jew)

24–25 September 2023

Anant Chaturdashi

28 September 2023

Simchat Torah (Jew)

07 October 2023

Ghat sthapana

15 October 2023

Maha Astomi (Maha Ashtami)

22 October 2023

Dussehra (Maha Dashami)

24 October 2023

Karaka Chaturthi (Karva Chauth)

01 November 2023

Govardhan Puja

13 November 2023

Bhai Dooj

14 November 2023

Guru Teg Bahadur’s Martyrdom Day

24 November 2023

Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Punyatithi

06  December 2023

Shri Datta Jayanti

26 December 2023

Boxing Day

26 December 2023


Characteristics of Optional Holidays in India


India is a diverse country with multi-cultural heritages and people belonging to different religions. That is why optional holidays granted by the companies are one of the unique aspects of helping employees return to their roots and not feel neglected or biased against. Here are some characteristics of optional holidays:

  • Regional Significance


Organisations in every state offer optional or restricted holidays at different times. Every community has festivals or cultural events specific to its traditions and customs. Sometimes, they are region-centric, with local people celebrating a time of mythological significance. For example, the Hornbill festival in Nagaland celebrates the cultural beliefs of the Naga tribes.

  • Cultural Participation


Optional holidays allow people in a community to gather and participate in important events. They dress in different attires, perform rituals, and play religious music. It helps in fostering a sense of unity among the people and other community members.

  • Voluntary


Optional holidays are granted according to the employee’s choices at specific times of the year. Workers can decide whether to celebrate these holidays, unlike other compulsory national holidays or paid leaves. Employees should inform their superiors about the optional holidays to meet all organisational requirements on time.

  • Different Policies


The implementation of optional holidays varies per company. Some organisations provide a list of pre-determined optional holidays in their automated time and attendance payroll system; employees can choose which holidays they want an off day. In contrast, other companies offer some days for optional leave (for example, 4 leaves annually); employees can use these leaves as suitable. HR roles and responsibilities must approve the leaves per the organisation’s policy.


  1. Salary


Optional holidays are paid, meaning workers must be rightfully compensated during the leave period. However, employees are provided no additional benefits or entitlements for this period above the normal compensation.

Difference Between Optional and Gazetted Holidays for Employees in India


Optional holidays are generally restricted for the employees as per their cultural choices and occasions. On the other hand, gazetted holidays are compulsory time off for employees in every organisation. These holidays are announced by the government officially for all banks, schools, institutions, or companies. Employees do not have a choice like restricted holidays to work on these days.


In India, employees are allowed to take


  • 2 optional holidays
  • 3 national holidays
  • 14 gazetted holidays


Factors to Consider While Building the Optional Holiday List


Creating the list of optional employee holidays requires careful consideration to ensure fairness and transparency. Moreover, all holidays should adhere to the legal requirements of the country.


  1. It is essential for the company to clearly outline its policies and reasons for granting optional holidays. The best goal is promoting cultural diversity and respect among workers, where they do not feel religion or culture is a barrier to professional development.


  1. The list of restricted holidays should change every year following the events of different religions and cultures. It must include holidays of every culture known in the country. Human resource management should approve the list before the holiday announcement.


  1. Communicating the policies and rules for availing the restricted holidays should be done to all employees. It includes defining the eligibility criteria, request and approval procedures, or specific performance/targets needed to be achieved for the leave days.


  1. The optional holiday list must comply with labour laws, local state laws, and other regulations in specific regions.


  1. The company should set strict guidelines about combining restricted holidays with other paid leaves. It should state whether an employee can take extended leaves from the company on occasion. The organisation must track every employee’s holiday list and attendance to approve or deny further leave requests.


Benefits of Optional Holidays

  • Boosts Productivity


When employees have a limited number of holidays in a year, it becomes challenging to maintain consistent productivity in the workplace. The lack of energy and entertainment and more instances of burnout impact their morale and motivation. Some time off helps them rejuvenate and shred off the mundane schedule.

  • Maintains Operational Budget


Companies can budget their resources and allocate work effectively through the optional holidays. It is because human resource management knows in advance about the availability of employees during a time and project deadlines. It helps companies manage their workforce planning.

  • Ensures Inclusion


Employees feel appreciated when their organisation respects various cultural and regional backgrounds and celebrations instead of restricting them. Organisations can inculcate a sense of belonging and respect by accommodating diverse cultures in the work environment.


Wrapping Up


In conclusion, small gestures like letting employees skip work and celebrate occasions close to their culture are needed for employee well-being. Optional holidays represent a commitment to creating a harmonious place where employees celebrate their events without hampering professional commitments. Hence, HR roles and responsibilities must have a transparent holiday policy that helps employees avoid confusion and know their duties.


sumHR offers cloud-based Human resource management software that helps different companies streamline their human resource processes and record employee data. Our biometric attendance system with payroll software has gained popularity for innovative solutions and customer support catering to diverse clients across industries. sumHR’s commitment to an efficient HR process scales and solidifies its position as the leading HR tech partner.



  • Do employees need to submit evidence proof for taking an optional holiday?


In maximum cases, the HR department does not require evidence proof or documentation for granting restricted holidays. However, verification might be needed when employees ask for optional holidays more than the allowed numbers.

  • How to request an optional holiday?


Employees can follow the instructions issued by the company on optional holidays and write an application directed to their manager and the HR department. It involves submitting the application, stating the specific dates, following up if necessary, and getting approval from the superior.


  • Can the company reject optional holiday applications?


It is in the hands of HR departments to grant optional holiday leave to employees. However, they may sometime reject the leave depending on organisational needs, work pressure, staff shortage, and other operational reasons. Therefore, there must be a formal meeting to discuss these issues before rejecting the leave to ensure transparency and employee satisfaction.

new lg

We’re on a mission to elevate HR teams to HR Heroes, one SMB at a time.

sumHR is an all-one HRMS Platform to automate all HR Processes. With sumHR, create a tasteful employee experience, track attendance & leaves, setup & manage payroll, definie & monitor goals, generate & schedule reports, and so much more. We’re on a mission to improve the impact of HR teams in SMEs across India.

Our comprehensive end-to-end HRMS includes

Picture of <small style="font-weight:400;font-size:16px;">Written by</small><br>Team sumHR
Written by
Team sumHR

SumHR is a flexible and configurable end-to-end HR Software/HRMS which help HR teams automate the HR Processes, and improve the employee's HR experience.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

new lg

Get HRMS for FREE*

with Jupiter Money

  • employee-idCreated with Sketch.
  • biometricCreated with Sketch.
    Payroll Software
  • attendance-32pxCreated with Sketch.
    Attendance System
  • custom-fieldsCreated with Sketch.
  • request-centerCreated with Sketch.
  • Zero Balance Account
  • On -Demand Advance Salary
  • 1% Rewards on DC & UPI
  • 0 Forex Charges
  • Special Offers *

Our HRMS Subscription costs ₹1428/year per employee