HR Operations

Time off for reasons of faith or conscience

Last updated: September 22, 2023

This page applies to all staff and student employees.

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 time off

Submit your request to your manager as far in advance as possible. Follow your department’s usual time off request procedure.

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

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

Your manager may ask for verification for an unpaid time off request.

Additional time off

Only two days of unpaid time off for religious or faith-based reasons are provided by Washington state 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 time off. Your employment program or collective bargaining agreement covers the use of paid or unpaid time off beyond the two days, not state law.

Manager responsibilities

Approving requests

Managers 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, meaning an action requiring significant difficulty or expense to the University. The factors considered in determining whether approving an unpaid absence results in an undue hardship are listed in WAC 82-56-020.
  • The employee’s presence is necessary to maintain public safety.

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

Recording the absence

For campus staff: In Workday, request unpaid time off and select the reason code “Conscience.”

For medical centers staff: Recorded in Kronos as authorized unpaid time off.

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)