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Human Resources

Changing balances

The Annual Attendance Incentive Program provides payment for a portion of unused sick leave accumulated but not used. The Online Work/Leave System (OWLS) entry of payment will always be effective January 1 of the current year.

Employees wishing to be paid for unused sick leave must complete the “Request for Payment of Year-End Unused Sick Leave” form and have it approved. As a timekeeper, it is your responsibility to ensure that the employee’s OWLS record is adjusted to reflect the information provided on the completed form. The “Request for Payment … ” form is a supporting document and must be filed and retained according to the retention schedule.

To enter the sick leave hours being converted to payment, open the employee’s record and take the following steps:

1. Click on "Balance Change." 2. Click on Annual Attendance Incentive Program (Sick Leave)."

3. Enter the number of hours converted to payments. 4. Make an entry in the note section, such "Attendance incentive payment of sick leave hours unused in 2005." 5. Enter your name and date the note. 6. Click "Save."

7. If the balance adjustment has been successfully processed, you will see a confirmation screen. If an error message is displayed, please recheck the hours requested for payment to ensure all hours are eligible, make corrections, and resubmit.

8. Click on the “Calendar” tab.

9. If the posting of the payment is retroactive, re-release all previous months by clicking on the “Submit Month and Send PERMS” button.


To learn more about the Annual Attendance Incentive Program, visit the Annual Attendance Incentive Program webpage.

Download the Attendance Incentive Request for Payment of Unused Sick Leave (UW Medicine) (MS Word) form.

Discretionary leave is paid time off work that a department or division head may award to a professional staff employee to recognize noteworthy achievement and work effort that have significantly contributed to the unit’s mission, goals and/or objectives. Up to six days of discretionary leave may be awarded per calendar year. Department or division heads must grant this leave in writing and provide a copy of the award notice or memo to the timekeeper.

Discretionary leave should be used soon after it is awarded, and must be used before annual leave. Discretionary leave must be used by March 31 of the calendar year following the calendar year in which it was awarded. Discretionary leave from the prior calendar year that is not used by the March 31 deadline will be lost and deducted from the employee’s leave record. The March 31 deadline for discretionary leave use cannot be extended under any circumstances.

Entering Discretionary Leave

After receiving written confirmation awarding an employee discretionary leave, enter the days granted in the Online Work/Leave System (OWLS). OWLS converts the days to hours and displays the leave balance in the monthly summary box. To post the discretionary leave, open the employee’s record and take the following steps:

8. Click on the “Calendar” tab.

9. If the posting of the award is retroactive re-release all previous months.

Forfeiting Discretionary Leave

If discretionary leave from the prior calendar year is not used by the March 31 deadline, it will be lost and must be deducted from the employee’s leave record. Remind the employees who have discretionary leave balances from the prior year that it will be forfeited if not used by March 31.

OWLS will not automatically delete or clear the balance of discretionary leave has not been used by the March 31 deadline. You must make the change manually. Open the employee’s OWLS record and take the following steps:

8. Click on the “Calendar” tab.

9. If the forfeiture is retroactive re-submit all previous months.


To learn more about discretionary leave, please visit the Discretionary Leave webpage.


Discretionary Leave FAQ

Q. Must discretionary leave be taken in full day increments?
A. Discretionary leave must be awarded in full day increments, but can be taken in hours.

Q. If discretionary leave needs to be used before annual leave, and I notice that annual leave was used prior to discretionary leave, do I need to go back and correct the entry?
A. Yes, you will need to go back and edit the month.

Q. How can I remove discretionary leave hours that are not used by the March 31 deadline?
A. To remove discretionary leave hours that were not used by the March 31deadline, return to the month in which the discretionary leave was originally awarded, scroll down to where notes appear, and click “Delete” next to the discretionary leave forfeiture under Balance Adjustments.

Classified staff employees’ annual leave balances must be at, or below, 240 hours on their anniversary date. Employees may voluntarily accumulate annual leave hours above the 240-hour maximum as long as they use the excess hours by their anniversary date. If employees fail to use the excess annual leave hours by their anniversary date, the hours accrued in excess of 240 must be forfeited.  The 240 hour maximum is per employee and not per number of appointments.

When annual leave balances are approaching the maximum 240 hours, the Online Work/Leave System (OWLS) automatically displays a notification to employees when viewing their balances in Employee Self-Service (ESS).  The notice describes the forfeiture consequences if employees exceed 240 hours on their anniversary date.

Timekeepers should alert employees who are approaching the 240 hour maximum that they may risk losing excess leave hours on their anniversary date.  However, employees should be aware of annual leave hours accrued and should plan to use any hours in excess of 240 by their anniversary date or risk losing them.

Because there are circumstances in which extensions can be granted, OWLS is not programmed to automatically delete an employee’s hours in excess of 240.  If an extension has not been approved by your Human Resources representative, you will need to remove the excess annual leave hours manually.

Recording Forfeited Excess Annual Leave Hours

To remove excess annual leave from the OWLS record, open the employee’s record and take the following steps:

7.  Click on the “Calendar” tab.

8.  Re-release any/all previous months, if the posting of the forfeiture is retroactive.


To learn more about the 240 hour annual leave accrual limit for classified staff and how to request an extension for use, visit the Annual Leave webpage for the classified employee’s employment program:

The 240-annual leave accrual limit is also referenced in the following:

  • union contracts
  • For classified non-union employees: WAC 357-31-215, “When may vacation leave be accumulated above the maximum two hundred forty (240) hours?”

Employees who are off work due to a work-related injury or illness may elect to use any combination of sick leave, annual leave, or leave without pay to cover their absence from work.  Employees may choose to use sick leave or annual leave to make up the difference between time loss payments and their regular wages, or to continue their regular income until time loss payments begin. Full sick leave pay and time loss benefits cannot be received concurrently.

Regulations require the University to have a “buy back” program for eligible workers who are on paid sick leave and who also receive time loss payment from L&I for the same period of time. The buy back program reconciles this “double payment” and allows for reinstatement of a proportionate amount of sick leave to the employee’s leave record. The employee is required to buy back sick leave, and has the option of buying back annual leave as well.

If any amount of this leave time is to be restored, the Office of Risk Management will contact the home department of employees receiving time loss benefits to determine when excess payments have been made.  If so, employees will receive notification that they are eligible to have leave time reinstated.

When you receive notification to reinstate leave hours under the L&I buyback program, you will need to make adjustment(s) in OWLS.

To enter L&I buyback in OWLS, open the employee’s OWLS record and perform the following steps:


To learn more about the L&I Buyback program, visit the Frequently Asked Questions/Procedure about Buyback for details.

For further information or questions, please contact the Workers’ Compensation Program Coordinator (206-543-0183).

When an employee’s salary has been overpaid, there are several options for reimbursing the University. One option is to deduct unused annual leave or compensatory time to pay back all or a portion of the overpayment. It is the responsibility of the employee, supervisor, and timekeeper to ensure the employee’s OWLS record is adjusted to reflect the repayment.

To enter the adjustment in OWLS, open the employee’s record and take the following steps:

7. Click on the “Calendar” tab.

8. If the action is retroactive re-submit all previous months.


To learn more about the policy regarding salary overpayment, visit the Payroll website.

Employees who have worked previously for the UW or another Washington state agency in monthly-paid positions are eligible to receive credit toward a higher annual leave accrual rate based upon overall length of state service. Additionally, these employees may also be eligible to reinstate a previous balance of sick leave. An employee’s eligibility for sick leave reinstatement will depend on his/her employment type and how long he/she has been separated from qualifying state service.

In order to receive credit for prior service, employees must complete the Prior Service Credit for Previous Washington State Employment (MS Word) form and submit it for review and processing by their department’s area HR Operations office. Once the request is authorized, it is the responsibility of both the employee and the department to ensure that the employee’s Online Work/Leave System (OWLS) record is adjusted to reflect the information provided on the completed crediting form. The crediting form is a supporting document, and must be filed and retained according to the retention schedule.

If prior service credit is less than 48 months, the employee’s initial annual leave rate will not change immediately. When total combined service, past and present, reaches 49 months, the annual leave accrual rate and accrual month in the OWLS will be automatically changed to reflect this credit.

When you receive the approved request form from HR, you will need to make the adjustment in OWLS.

To enter prior state service credit, open the employee’s record and perform the following steps:

6. Review the summary of changes.

9. Click the ‘Submit Month and Send PERM’ button to re-submit each month to be updated with the correct accrual rates and leave balances.


To learn more about crediting of prior state employment, visit the Prior Service Credit page.

If you need to request prior service credit, download the Prior Service Credit for Previous Washington State Employment (MS Word) form.

Once an employee’s record is created with setup values, the only way to modify these original balances in the Online Work/Leave System (OWLS) is to make a setup correction. Setup corrections can be made to the following types of leave:

  • Annual Leave
  • Comp Time
  • Discretionary Leave Carried Over from Last Year
  • FMLA
  • Holiday Credit
  • Military Leave
  • Personal Holiday
  • Shared Leave
  • Sick Leave

Making a setup correction will always return you to the first month of the current, active OWLS record.  If the correction is retroactive, you will be required to resubmit each month in order for the leave balances to be re-calculated.

To make a setup correction, open the employee’s OWLS record, and take the following steps:

7. Review the summary of changes.

8. If you need to make another balance adjustment, click on “Make Another Adjustment,” and start over at step #2 above.

If no more adjustments are being made, click on either the “Next Step – Update First Affected Month” button or the “Calendar” tab to return to the first month affected by the change.

9. Click on the “Submit Month and Send PERMs” button to re-submit each month with the corrected leave balances.

Overtime eligible employees may accumulate compensatory time instead of being paid for overtime hours worked. If the compensatory time is not used by the annual deadline or not approved for extension, it must be paid.

All compensatory time credited to classified staff and overtime-eligible professional staff must be used or paid by June 30.

Holiday credit is time granted to an employee when a holiday occurs on the employee’s regularly scheduled day off. If the holiday credit is not used by the annual deadline or is not approved for an extension, then it must be paid. The annual use/payment deadline for holiday credit is September 30 for Harborview and UW Medical centers, and June 30 for all other units.

Professional staff employees must use the holiday credit within 90 days of the holiday for which it was earned.

To show the payment of the compensatory time or holiday credit, open the employee’s OWLS record and follow these steps:

8. Review the summary page.

9. Re-submit all affected months by clicking on “Submit Month and Send PERMs” in the calendar screen.


Because time is being paid out, the department’s payroll coordinator will need to ensure that these hours are paid out through the Electronic Time Reporting (ETR) system. To learn about the ETR system, please visit the Time Reporting Tutorial page.

When reflecting the payout of leave time in ETR, earnings type codes other than the codes that are in OWLS may need to be entered. Visit the earn types page to learn about the earnings type code for compensatory time and holiday credit time.

Compensatory time payout rules change depending on the employee’s employment type. For information about compensatory time, please visit the HR compensatory time webpages for the following employment classifications:

If an employee has the equivalent of more than ten (10) days of leave without pay in a month, no annual or sick leave will accrue for that month and affected months will not be counted as service credit months. In addition, the annual leave accrual month will be delayed one month for each month in which leave without pay exceeds 10 days. It is important to properly enter leave without pay in the employee’s Online Work/Leave System (OWLS) record, so that OWLS will automatically calculate monthly accrual hours and recalculate total months of service.

When an employee moves from another leave recordkeeping system to OWLS, any leave without pay used prior to OWLS setup must be entered to ensure that the employee’s annual leave accrual month and annual leave accrual rate will be correct. If previous leave without pay was discovered after the record was set up, an adjustment will need to be made to correct the record.

To make a leave without pay correction, open the employee’s record and follow these steps:

6. Review the updated profile information.

7. If no more adjustments are being made, click on “Calendar” to make time and leave entries, or on “OWLS Home” to exit the employee’s record.


For more information about leave without pay policies, visit the Leave Without Pay webpage.

The department and the employee share responsibility to ensure that employee leave records reflect the receipt or donation of shared leave. Following approval from Human Resources (HR), complete the steps below to make shared leave entries in the Online Work/Leave System (OWLS).

Entering Donated Shared Leave Hours

When an employee has donated shared leave to another individual, HR will provide you with the actual hours accepted and the effective date of the acceptance. The recording of donated hours is done through the Balance Change screen. This process also applies when entering donated shared leave for the Organ Donor Shared Leave Program as well as other types of shared leave.

Open the employee’s record and take the following steps:

8. If you need to record more donations from this same employee, click on “Make Another Adjustment”, and go through the process again.

9. Re-submit all affected months if the posting of the donation is retroactive.

Entering Received Shared Leave Hours into OWLS

When an employee has received a shared leave donation, HR will provide you with the actual hours received and the effective date of shared leave eligibility. The recording of shared leave hours received is done through the Balance Change screen.

The process for entering received leave through the Organ Donor Shared Leave Program does not follow these steps.  Instead review the OWLS Making Calendar Entries page on Organ Donor Shared Leave.

For all other types of shared leave, open the employee’s record and take the following steps:

8. Re-submit all affected months if the posting of the donation is retroactive.

Removing Unused Shared Leave Hours from Recipient’s Record

If any amount of shared leave hours are unused by the recipient, these hours will need to be removed from the recipient’s OWLS record for return to the donor(s).

As removing unused shared leave hours requires approval from HR, you will not be able to end a record that has a shared leave balance. Please contact the OWLS support team for assistance in clearing the balance and returning unused hours to the donors.

The process for entering received leave through the Organ Donor Shared Leave Program does not follow these steps.  Instead review the OWLS Making Calendar Entries page on Organ Donor Shared Leave.

Once you have obtained HR approval to remove shared leave hours, open the recipient’s record and follow these steps:

Returning Unused Shared Leave Hours to Donor(s)

If any amount of shared leave hours are unused by the recipient, these hours will need to be returned to the donor(s).
Returning unused shared leave hours requires approval from HR.

This process also applies to entering donated shared leave for the Organ Donor Shared Leave Programas well as other types of shared leave.

To reinstate annual or sick leave hours that were donated as shared leave, but were unused, open the original donor’s record and follow these steps:


To learn more about the Shared Leave Program, visit the Shared Leave Policy webpage.

The Shared Leave - Organ Donor - Giving (MS Word) form is a supporting document, and must be filed and retained according to the retention schedule.