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Personal Holidays

Unpaid Personal Holidays for Faith, Conscience, or Religious Reasons

UNDERSTAND

The Revised Code of Washington 1.16.050 (RCW 1.16.050) provides all University employees the option to take up to two unpaid holidays per calendar year for a reason of faith or conscience, or for an organized activity conducted under the auspices of a religious denomination, church, or religious organization.

To take unpaid time off under the statute, employees should consult with their supervisor or administrator and use their unit's procedure for making advance leave requests. The employee will need to inform their unit that the requested unpaid day(s) is for a reason of faith or conscience or for an organized activity conducted under the auspices of a religious denomination, church, or religious organization.

The employer can only deny an employee's requested day(s) off if the employer determines that the requested time off would impose an undue hardship on the employer, or the employee's presence is necessary to maintain public safety. Undue hardship is defined in Washington Administrative Code (WAC) 82-56-020. Employees may be asked to provide verification for their unpaid leave request.

Use of Paid Time Off and Additional Unpaid Time Off

RCW 1.16.050 does not limit an employee's ability to request paid time off or additional unpaid time off for religious or faith-based reasons.

Employing units are encouraged to be as flexible as possible in considering employee requests for paid or unpaid leave for religious or faith reasons. However, the use of paid or unpaid leave beyond the two days provided by statute is covered by the applicable employment program, collective bargaining agreement, and departmental policy, and not by RCW 1.16.050.

It is important to remember that RCW 1.16.050 limits the employer's ability to deny a request. If you have any questions regarding an employee's request for time off for religious or faith-based reasons, contact your Human Resources consultant or leave specialist. Verification for an employee's leave request requires advance consultation and coordination with Human Resources.

For questions about faculty and academic staff, please contact Academic Human Resources at acadpers@uw.edu or 206-543-5630.

ACT

Leave Request Processing

If an employee submits a request for one or two unpaid holidays for this type of leave, you may only deny the request if the employee's time off would cause "undue hardship" for your department, or the employee's presence is necessary to maintain public safety. If you believe you have cause to deny a request, contact your unit's Human Resources consultant or leave specialist before responding to ensure that your proposed action is consistent with the law and University policy.

Leave Tracking

If your department uses OWLS or KRONOS, this type of unpaid leave is recorded as leave without pay (LWOP). Make an entry in the OWLS or KRONOS Notes section for each of the two days of LWOP provided by RCW 1.16.050 in order to facilitate tracking. Example wording for note: Unpaid Faith/Conscience Holiday used [date] [1 of 2 or 2 of 2] days for calendar year 20XX.

If paid leave is requested and approved or if additional LWOP is requested and approved to be used for a reason of faith or conscience, you should not record the reason for the leave in your leave tracking system.

Q&A for Managers

If an employee is absent without requesting time off in advance, can the employee have the absence retroactively credited to one of the two unpaid holidays for reason of faith or conscience?
No. Employees need to make their request for leave known in advance of their planned absence, and by following department leave request procedures.
If an employee has requested, received approval for, and taken an unpaid day off for a reason of faith or conscience, can the employee later have the unpaid leave changed to annual leave or some other form of paid leave?
No. Employees should consider their options at the time they request leave and request the form of leave that is most appropriate for their needs.