HR Operations

Vacation time off

Last updated: June 6, 2024

This page applies to all professional, classified, and contract covered staff.

All contract covered, classified, and professional staff, including nonpermanent employees, earn vacation time off which accrues once a month on the last day of the month and is available for use on the first of the following month.

ALERT: Vacation accrual maximum for classified employees increased from 240 to 280 hours on June 6, 2024.

Vacation separation pay cap for professional staff employees increased from 240 to 280 hours on June 6, 2024.

Accrual rates

Your vacation time off accrual rate is based on all the following:

  • Employment program or collective bargaining agreement
  • Years of service
  • FTE or sum of paid hours in a month
  • Prior Washington state service (if applicable)
Classified non-union (CNU) | SEIU 925 |
Teamsters 117 | WFSE |
SEIU 1199 | WSNA
Service Accrual rate
Years Months Hours/month Days/year Hours/year
1st 0-12 8.00 12 96
2nd 13-24 8.67 13 104
3rd 25-36 9.34 14 112
4th 37-48 10.00 15 120
5th 49-60 10.67 16 128
6th 61-72 11.34 17 136
7th 73-84 12.00 18 144
8th 85-96 12.67 19 152
9th 97-108 13.34 20 160
10th 109-120 14.00 21 168
11th 121-132 14.67 22 176
12th-19th 133-228 15.34 23 184
20th-24th 229-288 16 24 192
25th and above 289 and above 16.67 25 200
Inlandboatmen’s Union
Service Accrual rate
Years Months Hours/month Days/year Hours/year
1st 0-12 8.00 12 96
2nd 13-24 8.67 13 104
3rd-4th 25-48 9.34 14 112
5th-9th 49-108 10.00 15 120
10th 109-120 10.67 16 128
11th 121-132 11.34 17 136
12th 133-144 12.00 18 144
13th 145-156 12.67 19 152
14th 157-168 13.34 20 160
15th 169-180 14.00 21 168
16th and above 181 and above 14.67 22 176
Professional staff grades 10 and below |
SEIU 925 – IHME | SAG-AFTRA
Service Accrual rate
Years Months Hours/month Days/year Hours/year
1st 0-12 10.00 15 120
2nd 13-24 10.67 16 128
3rd 25-36 11.34 17 136
4th 37-48 12.00 18 144
5th 49-60 12.67 19 152
6th 61-72 13.34 20 160
7th 73-84 14.00 21 168
8th 85-96 14.67 22 176
9th 97-108 16.00 24 192
10th 109-120 16.67 25 200
11th 121 & above 17.34 26 208
Professional staff grades 11-14

All professional staff positions at salary grades 11-14 accrue vacation time off at the maximum rate of 17.34 hours per month (26 days per year) regardless of years of service.

Part-time employees

Regularly scheduled part-time employees with an FTE earn vacation time off on a prorated basis based on their full-time equivalent (FTE).

For example, a part-time employee with a 0.5 FTE whose expectation of work is 20 weekly scheduled hours in a 40-hour full-time workweek earns 50 percent of the vacation time off that a full-time employee earns with the same employment program and years of service.

For part-time employees who don’t hold an FTE, the amount of vacation time off earned is based on actual hours paid in a month.

For example, a nonpermanent-hourly or intermittent employee in their first year of service who worked 64 hours in a month in which there are 168 pay period hours accrues 3.05 hours of vacation time off for the month.

Cyclical positions

If you hold a cyclic-year or instructional-year position, you earn time off for the overall number of months you work, even if your appointment begins or ends mid-month.

For example, if you work September 16 to June 15, you earn nine months of vacation time off. You will not earn time off in September; however, if you are in pay status through the end of your appointment on June 14, you will receive your monthly accrual for June.

Prior Washington state service credit

If you have previously worked for a Washington state agency or Washington public institution of higher education, you may be eligible to transfer your balances from your previous employer or receive an adjustment to your vacation accrual rate.

Visit UWHR’s Prior Washington State Service Credit webpage for more information.

Impact of unpaid time off

Employees with an FTE do not accrue vacation time off during a calendar month in which they have taken more than 10 equivalent days as unpaid time off, including any holidays taken without pay. For employees with 1.0 FTE, that would be 80 hours of unpaid time off; for employees with a 0.5 FTE, that would be 40 hours of unpaid time off.

Employees earn a month of service for each month they are active in Workday. Unpaid time off does not impact whether a month of service towards a higher vacation accrual rate is earned.

Maximum vacation time off accrual for classified employees

Washington state law limits classified employees to a maximum accrual of 280 hours of vacation time off. If balances exceed 280 hours, any excess not used by a classified employee’s next time off service date will be forfeited on that date, except as described below:

Voluntarily exceeding the 280-hour limit

If you voluntarily exceed the 280-hour limit, you have until your next time off service date to use the excess hours. Any hours over 280 remaining on your time off service date will be forfeit and your balance will be reduced to the 280-hour state law maximum.

If your balance is currently below 280 hours, you are encouraged to use your vacation time off to ensure the balance does not exceed 280 hours.

Involuntarily exceeding the 280-hour limit

If you request to use vacation time off prior to exceeding 280 hours and your manager denies your vacation request due to departmental business needs, your manager may file an extension request with HR Operations. The request must be made at the time of the denial and include an explanation for denial and a plan for using the excess hours. Human Resources will review the request and make a determination.

Monitoring vacation balances

It is your responsibility to monitor your vacation balance. You and your manager should plan your vacation use so that your balance does not exceed the 280-hour maximum. If you have excess vacation accrual, work with your manager to schedule vacation time off at the earliest opportunity to bring the balance within the 280-hour limit.

Using vacation time off

You will accrue vacation hours once a month on the last day of the month and can use them on the first of the following month. Professional staff must use holiday credit and discretionary time off (in that order) prior to using vacation.

Determining your vacation time off balance

To determine your vacation time off balance, review instructions on how to view and request time off.

Requesting vacation time off

Vacation time off should be requested and approved in advance.

  • For campus staff: Follow your department’s usual request procedure and enter the vacation time off request in Workday.
  • For medical centers staff: Follow your department’s usual request procedure and enter the vacation time off request in Kronos.

As you make plans for time off, consider your department’s and your position’s needs and obligations. Vacation planning should balance your desire for time away from work with the University’s operational needs.

Your manager will attempt to accommodate your vacation request, but there may be times when you will be asked to reschedule your time off. In such cases, your manager will work with you to find an alternate time for using your vacation time that works for both you and the department.

Donating to shared leave programs

You may donate vacation time off hours to another employee in need of leave under the following programs:

Job changes

Moving from a staff position to another position

If you move from a classified, contract covered staff, or professional staff position to another position, your time off balance is handled according to the chart below:

If you move to a position that is: Your vacation time off:
A classified non-union
contract covered staff, or professional staff
Transfers with you to your new position
Faculty
Student hourly
If you have completed six months of continuous employment, is paid out based on your current employment program:

  • Classified non-union: all unused vacation time off hours
  • Represented civil service staff: review your collective bargaining agreement
  • Professional staff: up to a maximum of 280 hours
Moving from faculty to professional staff

When moving from a faculty to a professional staff position, vacation balances will be calculated for you based on your length of service as a faculty member and the type of appointment.

Faculty appointment Length of service as faculty Amount of vacation and sick time off granted to professional staff position
12-month appointment 11 or more years, OR
if professional staff grade 11 or above
208 hours of vacation, less any vacation time off taken in the previous 12 months
12-month appointment Less than 11 years A prorated amount as determined by Human Resources, less any vacation time off taken in the previous 12 months
Less than 12-month appointment Any amount No vacation time off is granted

Mid-month changes

Change in FTE

If your FTE status changes during a calendar month, the number of time off hours you earn for that month will be prorated based on the amount of time worked at each FTE during that month.

Change in employment program

If you move during a calendar month from one employment program to another with a different rate of accrual, the system will look at the accrual rate at the beginning of the month and the last day of the month and use the higher of the two.

Leaving UW employment

The University pays out unused vacation time only when you separate from University employment or move within the University to a position that does not accrue time off. This payout is available to employees who have completed six months of continuous employment.

Number of hours paid
If you are: You will be paid for:
Classified staff All unused vacation time off hours
Represented civil service exempt staff Refer to your collective bargaining agreement
Professional staff Up to a maximum of 280 hours

Payment is based on your regular salary at the time of separation and is paid as one lump-sum payment.

Transfers to another state agency

Your entire vacation balance may transfer with you if you move from University employment to a covered staff position at another Washington state agency or institution of higher education without a break in service (one business day or more, weekends and holidays not included). With this type of separation from the University, you do not receive a lump-sum payout. For your balance to transfer, your UW department must ensure Workday reflects that you are moving to another state agency without a break in service.

Manager responsibilities

As a manager, you are responsible for:

  • assisting employees in scheduling time off in accordance with departmental vacation time off approval process, and
  • monitoring employee vacation time off balances to prevent excess accrual.
Vacation request denials

The University encourages responsible scheduling and use of vacation through the cooperative efforts of staff and their managers. Vacation planning should balance the employee’s need for time away from work with the University’s interest in ensuring that work obligations are met. If you cannot approve a vacation request due to departmental needs, work with the employee to schedule their use of vacation time off at the earliest opportunity to allow them to maintain their balance at or below 280-hour threshold.

Additionally, if your denial will cause a classified employee to exceed the 280-hour maximum accrual, you should submit a request for extension to HR Operations immediately.

Requesting extensions for classified staff

Managers should request an extension approval from HR Operations if your denial  of a time off request of a will cause a classified employee’s vacation balance to exceed the 280-hour limit. An approved extension allows the classified employee to carry excess vacation hours beyond their time off service date. Without an approved extension, the excess hours will be forfeited from the classified employee’s balance on their time off service date.

The extension request must:

  • Be in writing
  • Identify the circumstances and departmental staffing needs that prevent approval of the employee’s request
  • Outline a plan for the employee to use the excess vacation time off in the near future
  • Be submitted to HR Operations at the time you deny the vacation request and before the employee’s balance exceeds 280 hours

State law increases vacation accrual maximum from 240 hours to 280 hours for classified staff

Beginning June 6, 2024, the vacation accrual maximum increased from 240 hours to 280 hours. Classified employees who have a balance exceeding 240 hours and whose time off service date occurs before June 6, 2024 will have their balances capped at 240 hours on their time off service date. Classified employees who have a balance exceeding 280 hours and whose time off service dates occur on or after June 6 will have their balances capped at 280 hours on their time off service date.

Additional resources

APS 43.15 Leave Policy for Classified Non-Union Staff