HR Operations

Leave for reasons of faith or conscience

Under state law, all employees have the option to take up to two unpaid holidays per calendar year for reasons of faith or conscience or for an organized activity conducted by a religious denomination, church, or religious organization.

Requesting leave

Submit your request to your supervisor as far in advance as possible. Follow your department’s usual leave request procedure.

While you do not need to give specific details for your unpaid leave request, you do need to state that your leave is for one of the following:

  • A reason of faith or conscience
  • An activity organized by a religious denomination, church, or religious organization

Your supervisor may ask for verification for an unpaid leave request.

Additional time off

Only two days of unpaid leave for religious or faith-based reasons are provided by law. However, the law does not limit your ability to request additional time off, paid or unpaid, for religious or faith-based reasons.

If you desire more than two days in a calendar year, follow your department’s usual procedure for requesting leave. The use of paid or unpaid leave beyond the two days is covered by your employment program or collective bargaining agreement, not state law.

Supervisor responsibilities

Approving requests

Supervisors must allow an employee to take their two unpaid holidays, unless either of the following applies:

  • The requested time off creates an undue hardship for the University. “Undue hardship” is defined by WAC 82-56-020.
  • The employee’s presence is necessary to maintain public safety.

Prior to denying a leave request made for reasons of faith or conscience, supervisors must consult with their HR consultant to be sure the denial follows the law and University policy.

Recording leave

Record these days as authorized leave without pay. In the notes section for each of the two unpaid days, enter language such as:

Unpaid faith/conscience holiday used on [date], [1 of 2 or 2 of 2] days for calendar year 20XX.

Additional resources

RCW 1.16.050 (WA state law)