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2.1.6 Vacations

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Formerly Known As Policy Number: 

This Guide Memo describes University policy and procedures on accrual and use of vacation leave.


Approved by the Vice President for Human Resources.


Applies to regular employees (as defined in Guide Memo 2.2.2: Definitions), Academic Staff-Research, and Academic Staff-Libraries, except Instructors and Clinician Educators in the School of Medicine. For policies that apply to employees covered by collective bargaining agreements, refer to the agreements between Stanford University and SEIU Higher Education Workers Local 2007 and Stanford University and the Stanford Deputy Sheriffs' Association. Agreements can be found at Labor Relations & Collective Bargaining. Procedures for SLAC employees may vary.

1. Accrual of Vacation

a. Definition of "Period of Service"
"Period of service" means years of service counted from the employee's initial hire date as a "regular employee," as defined in Guide Memo 2.2.2: Definitions. Months which count as service are (1) those for which some pay is received, and, for the purpose of establishing the vacation accrual rate only, and (2) those following layoff when rehire occurs within 24 months. One month of service is counted whenever any service occurs during the month.

b. Accrual Rate Change Dates
Changes in vacation rate accruals (both increases and decreases) are effective on the first day of the employee's anniversary or status change month. The accrual change is credited in the system by the last day of that month.

c. Vacation Accrual Amounts

(1) For Full-time Employment
Vacation leave accrues according to the following tables:

Vacation Leave Accruals, Non-exempt Staff

Years of Qualifying Status
Non-Exempt Staff
Per Hour on Pay Status Approximate Days per Year
During first year 0.038470 10
Beginning year 2 through end of year 4 0.057700 15
Beginning year 5 through end of year 9 0.065390 17
Beginning year 10 through end of year 14 0.084620 22
Beginning year 15 and thereafter 0.092310 24


Vacation Leave Accruals, Exempt Staff

Years of Qualifying Status
Exempt Staff (Do not track hours worked)
Hours per Calendar Month Approximate Days per Year
During first year 10 15
Beginning year 2 through end of year 9 13.33 20
Beginning year 10 and thereafter 16 24

(2) For Part-time and Part-month Employment
Vacation is credited on a prorated basis for any month an eligible employee receives any straight time (that is, not overtime) pay. "Straight-time pay" for the purpose of vacation accrual includes both straight-time pay for work performed and pay for holidays, vacation, and sick. (For more information, see Guide Memo 2.1.5: Compensation of Staff Employees.) Accrual for exempt employees is based on the proportion of the employee's FTE.

d. Method of Accruing Vacation

(1) Vacation Does Accrue
Vacation accrues from the first month of employment during non- overtime periods of work, sick time, and vacation. During seasonal layoff, vacation accrues as if the employee were continuing to work regular time. Vacation is credited by the end of each month of service.

(2) Vacation Does Not Accrue
No vacation accrues:

  • For any period of terminal vacation taken by a terminating employee after the employee's last day of actual work.
  • For periods of leave with or without pay, including periods of short-term disability, long-term disability, Workers' Compensation, or when using Family Temporary Disability wage replacement (FTD).

e. Maximum Vacation Accumulation

(1) Accrual Limits
Unused vacation accumulates from year to year, but the maximum amount of vacation that can be accrued is stated in the chart below. If the employee has accrued the maximum amount or is in excess of the maximum amount due to the annual reduction of the maximum, no additional vacation time may be accrued until vacation time is used and the balance falls below the maximum.

Accrual Limits

Accrual Rate (days/year) 2009 Maximum Accrual (days/hours) Effective 01/01/2010 Maximum Accrual (days/hours) Effective 01/01/2011 Maximum Accrual (days/hours) Effective 01/01/2012 Maximum Accrual (days/hours)
15 37.5/300 37.5/300 37.5/300 30/240
17 42.5/340 42.5/340 40/320 30/240
20 50/400 50/400 40/320 30/240
22 55/440 50/400 40/320 30/240
24 60/480 50/400 40/320 30/240

(2) For Part-time Employment
The maximum allowable accrual is prorated based on the eligible employee's FTE.

(3) Approval for Exceptions
Any exception to the maximum allowable accrual must be requested in writing in advance by the employee's department, must identify the unique operational requirements that warrant the exception, and must be directed to the Vice President of Human Resources. Exception is not granted unless approved by the Vice President of Human Resources.

(4) Change in Status
When a change in employment status (e.g., from full-time to part-time or from exempt to non-exempt) results in an employee's vacation accumulation exceeding the employee's new maximum, the employee is paid for the excess at the time of the status change unless the employee and the employee's department mutually agree upon arrangements for the excess to be taken within a short period of time. Such arrangements can provide for a combination of payment and vacation. Payment is based on the pay rate immediately before the status change.

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2. Use of Vacation

a. No Advance on Vacation
Employees may not use vacation before it has been credited, except for borrowing up to the amount the employee would normally accrue in one month to cover time that would otherwise be unpaid during Winter Closure.

b. Scheduling of Vacations
Departments are responsible for providing opportunities for employees to take vacations each year. Vacation should normally be taken in the fiscal year when it is accrued. Specific arrangements are subject to supervisory approval and scheduling compatible with depart-mental requirements, and should consider the employee's preferences. If an employee has not scheduled vacation, he/she may be required to use accrued vacation time before the close of the fiscal year in which it was accrued, or before the close of a grant or contract that supports the employee's salary.

c. Reporting Vacation Time

  • ­ Non-Exempt Employees
    Record all vacation time taken during a pay period in the human resources management system (Axess/PeopleSoft HRMS).
  • Exempt Employees
    It is not necessary to report any vacation time less than four hours. For reporting purposes of four or more hours, record a minimum of four hours or the actual time taken if over four hours.

d. Use of Vacation for Non-vacation Absences
Vacation can be used for other absences (e.g., disability, personal, Winter Closure) when requested by the employee and approved by the supervisor.

e. Advance Pay for Vacations
See Guide Memo 2.2.3: University Payroll.

f. Pay in Lieu of Vacation
Vacation cannot be converted to cash except when employment terminates or when a change in employment status results in an employee's accumulation exceeding the maximum allowable (see 1.e. above).

g. Terminal Vacation Payment
Employees who terminate regular staff employment receive a lump sum payment at their current rate of pay for their accumulated vacation. An employee who is retiring or an employee who is being permanently laid off may request to remain on the payroll after the last day of work by using accumulated vacation leave and PTO (called "terminal vacation"). An employee request for terminal vacation must be submitted in writing to the local Human Resources Office. However, in these cases sick leave, vacation, and PTO will not accrue or be credited after the actual last day of paid work and no holidays will be paid or credited. Sick leave cannot be utilized when on terminal vacation.

h. Leaves of Absence
A leave of absence without pay is not a termination of employment and lump-sum payment of accumulated vacation is not provided when an employee takes leave without pay.

i. Transfer of Vacation
When an employee transfers from one department to another within the University, accumulated vacation as of September 1, 2003, is transferred with an online expense transfer to the central vacation accrual account. Please refer to Vacation Balance Funding for guidance on how to account for transferred vacation.

j. Fixed-Term Appointees and Employees on Fixed Funding
Employees on fixed-term appointments and continuing employees paid from fixed funding sources may be required to use all accrued vacation before the end of the fixed-term appointment period or the expiration of the funding source.

k. Non-exempt Employees Working Premium Shifts
Employees who regularly work swing or owl/night shifts (see Guide Memo 2.1.5: Compensation of Staff Employees, Section 7.c) so that they normally receive shift premium pay continue to receive shift premium pay for hours charged to vacation leave.

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3. Guide to Supervisors

a. Records and Reports of Vacation
Leave records must be updated at the end of each pay period for all regular employees. When an employee terminates, go to HR PeopleSoft Overview and look in the Termination section. When an employee transfers to another department, accumulated vacation as of September 1, 2003, is transferred with an online expense transfer to the central vacation accrual account. See  Vacation Balance Funding for procedures. To compute the monetary value of vacation, see How to: Calculate Vacation Accrual. For more information, see Guide Memo 2.1.5: Compensation of Staff Employees.

b. Reporting Vacation Accumulation to Employees
Departments not currently using Axess should provide employees with written statements at the end of each fiscal quarter showing current vacation accumulation, current accrual rate, and the effective date of the current accrual rate. Departments are encouraged to provide accumulation reports on a more frequent basis if practical; e.g., monthly after accrual and usage data have been posted. Differences should be resolved promptly by reference to written records of attendance. In the absence of such record, departments normally accept the employee's certification of vacation used.

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