Human Resources

State service definitions

Last updated: December 12, 2022

This webpage summarizes key concepts related to Washington state service for contract covered, classified non-union and professional staff at UW, including:

  • Definitions of Washington state service and service dates
  • Months of service
  • Break in service
  • Transfer of certain time off balances to other Washington state agencies
  • Eligibility to have service credit reinstated after a break in Washington state service (prior service credit)

This webpage does not describe or define service as it relates to Public Employees Benefit (PEBB) insurance eligibility, Graduate Appointee Insurance Program (GAIP) eligibility, the Department of Retirement Services (DRS) rules regarding service credit for retirement, the University of Washington Retirement Plan (UWRP/UWSRP) rules regarding service time for retirement or the UW Service Recognition Program.


Washington state service

Washington state service is time spent employed as a civil service covered employee at a Washington state agency or public institution of higher education. City or county employment is not considered state employment.

At the UW classified staff employees are covered by state civil service law (RCW 41.06). The UW has determined that professional staff and other contract covered staff follow the civil service law governing service credit unless explicitly stated otherwise. Professional staff, academic personnel and student employees remain exempt from civil service as defined in RCW 41.06.070.

Time Off Service Date (Washington state anniversary date)

The Time Off Service Date is the most recent date of hire into Washington state service. For classified staff only, it is used to determine when vacation balances over two hundred forty (240) hours are forfeited.

Progression Start Date (Periodic Increment Date)

The progression start date is the date when a classified staff employee is scheduled to move to a higher salary step within the salary range for their position’s current step.

Earning a month of service

You earn a month of service for every month you are employed in an eligible staff position with the UW.

Continuous state service

For contract covered, classified non-union or professional staff employees in non-temporary positions, state service continues without a break under the following circumstances:

  • Job change between UW contract covered, classified non-union, or professional staff jobs without a break in or termination from UW employment, excluding weekends and holidays (i.e., the last date in one job is immediately followed by the start of the next)
  • An unpaid leave of absence for:
  • Termination of UW employment followed by employment at another WA state agency without a break in service (e.g., in a transfer, the date of termination at UW is immediately followed by the date of hire at the other institution)
  • Unpaid time off during a furlough
  • Rehire from layoff status

For academic personnel and/or administrative exempt employees hired into UW classified non-union positions only, for each contract year, or equivalent, one year of qualifying service is credited to the employee for the purposes of calculating months of service toward a higher vacation accrual rate.

Break in service


A break in service for the purposes of determining service for the reasons outlined on this webpage occurs when a contract covered, classified non-union or professional staff employee in a non-temporary position:

  • Moves to a temporary staff, student, or faculty/academic personnel position within the UW
  • Terminates employment at the UW (removed from UW payroll) and is not moving to another WA state agency without a break in service (i.e., the employee leaves to work in the private sector or the employee leaves the UW and the start date at the other WA state agency does not immediately follow the date of termination at the UW)

Impacts of a break in service

Impact on service dates

An employee receives a new Time Off Service Date when the employee is rehired following a break in state service, except when the employee promotes, demotes, or transfers to another higher education employer or is rehired following a layoff.

A contract covered staff and classified employee’s Progression Start Date is reset upon rehire, except when rehired from layoff status into certain positions.

Other impacts

Breaks in service also have the following impacts:

  • Payout of vacation time off: When staff in a non-temporary position with six continuous months of UW employment separate with a break in service, they are entitled to a lump sum payment of unused vacation time off based on the rules of their employment program.
  • Probationary period or trial service period: A break in service by a contract covered staff or classified staff employee who previously served either a probationary or trial service period determines whether the individual must complete a new probationary or trial service period upon rehire.
  • Seniority rights: Seniority is the total continuous length of a classified non-union employee’s most recent unbroken state service or a contract covered employee’s most recent unbroken service in the union. A break in service and placement on the rehire list impact an employee’s seniority rights.

Transfer of certain time off balances to other WA state agencies

UW staff in non-temporary positions are eligible for credit of prior Washington state service and can transfer service credit and certain time off balances between another Washington state agency or institution of higher education and the UW. The rules for prior service crediting and transfer are outlined on the Prior Washington state service credit webpage.