HR Operations

Taking time off for an event or activity during the work day

Last updated: January 2, 2024

This page applies to all staff.

The UW supports employee participation in work-related events and services such as orientations, trainings, online courses, and community building activities. The following information provides guidance for when manager approval and/or time off requests are required.

Absences for work-related activities

Time off requests are not needed for events or activities required as part of your employment or for professional growth opportunities approved by your manager. Participation is counted as part of your hours worked.

Consistent with University of Washington Executive Order 52, employees are provided release time necessary to participate in training and professional development up to a maximum of 24 hours per quarter plus travel time to and from class (with release time prorated accordingly for part-time employees.) Employees who are not scheduled to work during the time a course is offered may participate in the course; however, no compensatory time off or additional compensation will be allowed. Management-directed training is not included in this limitation on release time.

If your collective bargaining agreement allows, time spent contributing to or participating in DEI-related activities will be considered work time. This may include participation in affinity groups, DEI committees and teams, and completion of trainings required by your collective bargaining agreement.

Absences for non-work-related events and service activities

The University of Washington is proud to support activities that celebrate our community like Whole U events, faculty seminars, and volunteer activities. When non-work-related events and activities occur during your scheduled work hours, it is up to you to speak with your manager about the possibility of participating.

As is true for vacations and other personal absence requests, if the requested time off would impair departmental operations, the manager may deny the request. If your manager approves time off to attend the activity, you may use vacation time off, compensatory time, discretionary time off and holiday credit to cover the absence. For exempt professional staff who are requesting a partial day absence, please visit the Partial-Day Absence webpage.

We encourage units to be flexible in order to encourage employee participation in these events as they foster engagement in the workplace, leading to a happier, more productive workforce.

For longer term educational absences related to your employment, check your collective bargaining agreement for educational leave provisions or the University’s policy on professional leave.

Absences for union-related activities

Refer to your current collective bargaining agreement provisions on release time. Release time for union related activities is tracked as a distinct time off type in Workday or KRONOS for Medical Centers’ staff. Please see the Request Time Off User Guide for more information.

Absences for complaint resolution

The University provides employees reasonable release time from their regular work schedules to participate in complaint resolution processes, following notification of appropriate administrative personnel. See Administrative Policy Statement 46.3 Resolution of Complaints against University Employees.

Absences for WA Employee Assistance Program services

The University of Washington supports the use of WA Employee Assistance Program (EAP) resources and services. If an employee is unable to secure an appointment with a WA EAP counselor, attorney, or financial consultant outside of work hours, the University may provide reasonable release time from their regular work schedules to access such services.

Employees should follow their department’s procedures for requesting release time and should provide as much notice as possible. Employees should work with their managers to ensure that time away from work does not impede critical operations.

Contact your HR Consultant with questions related to time off policies or if your specific time off need is not addressed above.