Employees now can use comp or vacation time for holiday break

Jackie Valley

The desire for choice among employees prompted the university to modify its requirements for the trial holiday schedule, said Carolyn Pizzuto, vice president for human resources.

Pizzuto said employees can now use either vacation or compensatory time for the four additional days – Dec. 26, 27, 28 and 31 – of suspended operations between the paid holidays of Christmas and New Year’s.

Earlier this month, the university announced its plan to pilot a trial holiday schedule this year to give employees more time to spend with family and friends during the holidays. The plan requires eligible staff members to use leave time for the four days in addition to the paid holidays of Dec. 24 and 25 and Jan. 1.

Beyond essential services, each division, college and campus was asked to review its operations to determine if it could suspend operations.

Under the original plan, employees were asked to use comp time first and then vacation or personal leave time if necessary.

Pizzuto said the logic behind the original plan was to allow employees to empty their comp time while saving vacation days since comp time can only be accrued up to a certain amount of hours, while vacation can be accrued up to three years.

“We thought they would want to keep accruing vacation time,” she said.

However, based on e-mails from employees, Pizzuto said it became obvious “people like to have choice.”

If those options are unavailable, Pizzuto said employees can convert sick time to vacation or personal leave time. The deadline to do so is today.

Pizzuto said the university also extended the limit of overtime from eight to 20 hours for employees who do not have enough leave time and cannot afford to take unpaid leave. With a supervisor’s approval, employees can accrue the additional 20 hours, which equates to 30 hours of comp time, between Nov. 1 and Dec. 20.

Pizzuto said she was surprised by the feedback she received from people asking to work extra hours to fill additional comp time.

“We didn’t feel people would really want to do it,” she said, referring to the initial lower hour limit.

Since the announcement, Pizzuto said reaction has been fairly well split – half the employees thankful for time off during the holidays and the other half either unhappy with the announcement’s timing or the requirement to use leave time.



• Employees now have the choice of using either vacation or comp time for the four additional days between Christmas and New Year’s.

• If employees do not have either, they can convert sick time to vacation or personal leave time. The deadline to do so is today.

• The university also extended the limit for working extra hours to convert to comp time from eight to 20 hours.

“They really are delighted, but they really wished we would just pay them,” she said.

Pizzuto, however, said Kent State did not approach the trial holiday schedule as an opportunity to save money. As a result, the university would not be able to use any money saved by shutting down to pay the employees for the four extra days.

Giving employees four additional paid days off would cost the university about $750,000.

The university will measure any savings as a result of the new schedule, but Pizzuto said it is impossible to estimate a savings based on the weather and how many units stay open.

Consequently, she said the university must assume full facility utilization.

“If full facility utilization is not necessary, just minimal heating, we received input that there could be a savings of $80,000 to $100,000, but this number is not reliable,” she said.

Lisa Held, graduate student secretary in the school of art, said she is in favor of the additional time off.

As a new employee, Held said she was grateful to be able to use comp time for the days – which she accrued several weeks ago by putting in extra time working to implement the Banner system.

Jennifer Nikolin-Meyer, senior secretary of the English office, said she is happy about the schedule because “we’re really busy in English and it’s hard to take vacation or personal leave.”

Still, Nikolin-Meyer said others are unhappy about taking time off that could be used to catch-up, free from student and faculty interruptions.

“When school is out, it’s a time for workers to catch up on work,” she said.

Contact administration reporter Jackie Valley at [email protected].