Vacation Changes FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions regarding changes to Occidental’s vacation policy. Leer en español

June 2020

These changes currently apply only to non-represented employees. Any changes to contracts covering represented employees are still the subject of negotiation.

Q. What is being changed?

A. The amount of vacation that employees earn each month (referred to as vacation “accruals”) and the corresponding maximum amount of vacation accruals that an employee can earn (referred to as the vacation “cap”) are being changed.

Q. How are vacation accruals changing?

A. The Occidental College Employee Handbook lists the current accrual rate as follows. The new accrual rate is listed beside the current accrual rate.

ADMINISTRATORS:

Length of Employment Monthly Accrual (current) Monthly Accrual (as of July 1, 2020)
1 – 5 years (through 60th month of continuous employment) 10 hrs/month (equiv. to 15 days per year) up to maximum 6.67 hrs/month (equiv. to 10 days per year) up to maximum
5 years or More (61st month and thereafter) 13.36 hrs/month (equiv. to 20 days per year) up to maximum 10 hrs/month (equiv. to 15 days per year) up to maximum

STAFF:

Length of Employment Monthly Accrual (current) Monthly Accrual (as of July 1, 2020)
1 – 5 Years (through 1st through 60th month of continuous employment) 6.67 hrs/month (equiv. to 10 days per year) 6.67 hrs/month (equiv. to 10 days per year) up to maximum
5 – 15 Years (61st through 179th month of continuous employment) 10 hrs/month (equiv. to 15 days per year) 6.67 hrs/month (equiv. to 10 days per year) up to maximum
15 Years or More (180th month and thereafter) 13.36 hrs/month (equiv. to 20 days per year) 10 hrs/month (equiv. to 15 days per year) up to maximum
Q. How are vacation caps changing?

A. The Occidental College Employee Handbook lists the current vacation cap as indicated below in the middle column. The new vacation cap will be 1.5 times the annual accrual rate as indicated in the column on the right.

ADMINISTRATORS:

Length of Employment Maximum Accrual (current) Maximum Accrual (as of July 1, 2020)
1 – 5 years (through 60th month of continuous employment) 240 hours / 30 days 120 hours / 15 days
5 years or More (61st month and thereafter) 240 hours / 30 days 180 hours / 22.5 days

STAFF:

Length of Employment Maximum Accrual (current) Maximum Accrual (as of July 1, 2020)
1 – 5 Years (through 1st through 60th month of continuous employment) 200 hours / 25 days 120 hours / 15 days
5 – 15 Years (61st through 179th month of continuous employment) 200 hours / 25 days 120 hours / 15 days
15 Years or More (180th month and thereafter) 240 hours / 30 days 180 hours / 22.5 days
Q. Can I still use the vacation that I have already accrued?

A. Yes. As always, please work with your supervisor to schedule vacations.

Q. I have more vacation days than the new Maximum Accrual limit (“cap”) indicates. Will I lose these days?

A. You will not lose any vacation days that you have already accrued. However, as indicated in the current Employee Handbook, “if an employee’s earned but unused vacation accrual reaches the maximum in accordance with the employee’s classification, the employee will not accrue any additional vacation benefits.” For this reason, employees and supervisors are encouraged to work with their supervisor(s) to schedule vacation time so that the employee’s vacation accruals fall below the new vacation accrual “cap.”

Q. Can I use vacation time during my furlough so that my paycheck during the furlough has less or no reduced overall pay?

A. Yes, please coordinate this with Human Resources.

Q. Are the changes in vacation accrual rates and maximum accruals temporary or permanent?

A. The changes in vacation accrual rates and maximum accruals will continue for the time being. We will revisit this issue at a later date.

Q. The reason we don’t take vacation is because there is more work than our staffing levels can manage at the quality level expected. How can this be addressed?

A. Staffing and resource availability should always be considered when planning projects. Employees’ well-being must be emphasized and the ability for people to take a vacation should always be considered as an essential part of overall planning.

Q. If my accrued vacation is already greater than the new cap allows, will I lose my vacation days that are over the cap?

A. No. Once accrued, vacation days cannot be taken away. However, if your total accrued vacation days exceed the cap, you will no longer continue to earn vacation days until you take enough vacation to drop below the cap.

Q. I've already reached the accrual cap. With this short notice, there isn't enough time to drop below the cap by July 1 and continue to accrue vacation. What can be done in this case?

A. The next accruals will not be issued until the end of July.

Q. If I am already at the vacation cap, can the hours that I don't accrue past that point be counted toward my furlough?

A. No, they cannot.

Q. Will there be a payout for accrued vacation that is above the new cap? If so, when will this payout occur?

A. No, there will not be a payout.

Q. Will it be possible to take unpaid days off work to make up for reduced vacation accrual?

A. In general, employees should expect to work all scheduled days which are not provided for in our leave programs. That said, the College has an unpaid leave policy, which may be applicable.

Q. Can people contribute vacation days to others?

A. No.

Q. Do the new vacation policies also apply to faculty?

A. No. Faculty do not accrue vacation.

Q. Could faculty sabbaticals be reduced to some extent to parallel the reduction in staff vacation benefits?

A. Sabbatical is not a vacation; it is a shift in work responsibilities. Sabbaticals are intended to give faculty the opportunity to focus on their research and scholarship, one of three main areas on which their job performance is evaluated. Faculty who take a year-long sabbatical have their salary reduced by 50%.

Q. Will there be any changes to the paid winter break that staff have typically received?

A. No.

Q. Is the accrual or use of sick leave affected? Are there any changes to the sick leave accrual cap?

A. No. There are no changes to sick leave accrual, the maximum amount of sick leave that can be accrued, or its use.

Q. According to your numbers the furloughs and vacation day reduction only saves the College $500,000. These are the kinds of cuts that hit us as individuals very hard, while covering only a very small portion of the overall deficit. Couldn't these costs have been covered by a mandatory, slightly higher pay cut for senior staff?

A. The $500,000 is an estimate and includes furloughs and vacation reductions to senior staff, as well as to other personnel. As mentioned, senior staff are taking salary cuts above and beyond these measures.