Annual Leave FAQ (5/6/2020)

Changes to the Annual Leave Policy FAQ 

What recently changed?

On April 30, 2020, a joint message was sent from Dominic Lacy, Chief Operating Officer, and Lisa Clarke, Interim Chief Financial Officer. The Executive Team made a decision to postpone the reduction in the annual leave carryover due to COVID-19. To summarize:

  • At the beginning of Fiscal Year 2022, staff may carry over a maximum of 200 hours of annual leave.  This means that employees should use up excess leave over 200 hours by September 12, 2021.  
  • At the beginning of Fiscal Year 2023, staff may carry over a maximum of 160 hours of annual leave.  This means that employees should use up excess leave over 160 hours by September 11, 2022.  
  • Please note that employees who leave the University during Fiscal Year 2021 can cash out up to 200 hours of accrued annual leave (up to $15,000). Employees who leave the University in Fiscal Year 2022 can cash out up to 160 hours of accrued annual leave (up to $15,000).

What was the previous change?

Previously, the changes were as noted in the announcement sent on September 26, 2019 from Lisa Clarke, Interim Vice President of Administration and Finance:

  • At the beginning of Fiscal Year 2021, staff may carry over a maximum of 200 hours of annual leave.  This means that employees should use up excess leave over 200 hours by September 13, 2020.  In addition, employees who leave the University during Fiscal Year 2021 can cash out up to 200 hours of accrued annual leave (up to $15,000).

  • At the beginning of Fiscal Year 2022, staff may carry over a maximum of 160 hours of annual leave.  This means that employees should use up excess leave over 160 hours by September 12, 2021.  In addition, employees who leave the University during Fiscal Year 2022 can cash out up to 160 hours of accrued annual leave (up to $15,000).

  • Staff who convert to university faculty or Clerc Center teachers/SLPs/REs status typically have their annual leave balance “frozen” until their separation date. The university will now pay these employees a lump sum for the unused annual leave up to the carryover limit around the time of conversion. Employees who currently have a “frozen” annual leave balance will receive a lump sum for their annual leave in January 2020.  

  • When employees leave the university, they “cash out” any of the remaining balance of their annual leave benefit, up to the carryover limit. A cap on the amount of annual leave will go into effect beginning on January 1, 2020. Employees who leave the university and cash out accrued annual leave will receive a maximum of $15,000. employees who leave the University during Fiscal Year 2022 can cash out up to 160 hours of accrued annual leave (up to $15,000).

 

Did leave accrual change?
No, leave accrual did not change at all. Full-time employees who work up to three years will continue to receive 13 days of annual leave each year (4 hours biweekly). Those who work from 3-14 years will receive 19.5 days of annual leave each year (6 hours biweekly). Those who work 15 years or more will receive 26 days of annual leave each year (8 hours biweekly).  

 

Why did the University decide to change its leave accrual policy?  
Over the past several years, the University observed an increasing number of staff with a high balance of unused annual leave. There are several potential reasons why staff are not using their annual leave benefits:

  • With less available resources, staff feel challenged about taking annual leave as it may become difficult to keep up with their workload. Additionally, they may not feel supported in having others assume some of the work in their absence.

  • Support is not given, or employees are not encouraged by supervisors to take time off.

  • A project or ongoing commitment requires their presence. 

It is evident from several studies that organizations observe better performance from employees who took more personal days than those who took less. Also, employees report higher job satisfaction when using more personal days. This affirms the importance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance.  Thus, the University is setting a new goal to show a commitment to employees by more intentionally encouraging a culture that supports a healthy work-life balance.  The higher unused annual leave balance also creates financial stress for the University.

 

How does a large unused annual leave balances cause financial stress for the University?
It creates a larger financial liability for the University because accounting rules require the University to set aside money equivalent to the cumulative amount of annual leave for all employees.  The larger the unused annual leave balance, the more funds the University must set aside.  

 

That does not seem fair.  Carrying over 160 hours in FY 2022 seems like a low amount.  
Gallaudet University still remains one of the most generous higher education institutions when it comes to leave carryover, specifically in the DC area.  Please see some examples of other higher education institution’s leave carryover:

 

What does the $15,000 cap mean?  
Upon separation, employees can cash out their unused annual leave balance up to the allowable limit in the fiscal year. The maximum gross amount they can receive from Gallaudet is $15,000. For example, if an employee earns $70,000 per year, and the employee has 200 hours of unused annual leave, they will receive $6,730.  However, an employee who earns $175,000 per year and has a balance of 200 hours of unused annual leave will receive $15,000, although the true value of their unused annual leave is actually $16,826.

 

I will become a new faculty member on August 16.  What happens to my annual leave balance that I accrued while I was a staff member?
You will receive a lump sum of your unused annual leave balance (up to the allowable limit) after you transfer to a faculty position.

 

Human Resources regularly announces that  the last day to use your excess annual leave and Floating Day must be prior to September 30. Why?
We have to follow the pay period schedule.  The last paycheck in each fiscal year must be the last paycheck in September.  The last day of that particular pay period is the last day to use excess annual leave or a Floating Day.  

For Fiscal Year 2020, the last paycheck in September will be on September 22, 2020. This covers the pay period from August 31, 2020 through September 13, 2020. Thus, the last day to use excess annual leave or a float day will be September 13, 2020.  

 

I can never take time off, as it is too busy in the office.  How can I use my annual leave?
It is very important for you to take time off to recharge and focus on your well-being.  That is the purpose of annual leave. We are encouraging supervisors to allow their staff to take time off as long as it does not negatively impact departmental operations.  Please work with your supervisor to start planning your time off sooner than later. The earlier you request your time off, the better the supervisor can manage the requests and plan for coverage in the office.  

 

Gallaudet

800 Florida Avenue NE
Washington, DC 20002

Gallaudet

800 Florida Avenue NE
Washington, DC 20002