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Personal Time

Q

I was surprised to learn that UCAR does not offer personal days off, a
practice I had come to expect from modern employers. It appears that this
policy discriminates against non-Christians who may have to use vacation
days to take off religious holidays. This is especially unfortunate at a
time when UCAR is trying to promote diversity. Are there any plans to offer
personal days in addition to, not in place of, vacation days in the future?

Answered on August 21, 2001

A

You are correct; UCAR does not have a separate category for personal days.
UCAR provides new employees 12 work days of vacation per year as compared
to most other employers who offer one or two weeks (5 or 10 work days) of
vacation in the first year. This allows UCAR employees two weeks of
vacation plus two additional days for any purpose during the year; in
effect vacation days are personal leave days.

We believe the amount of time granted under UCAR's policies is very
competitive with other organizations for vacation, personal time off, and
holidays. A 2000 survey shows that less than 10% of Denver/Boulder
employers provide new employees with two (or more) weeks of vacation.
Moreover, 85% of Denver/Boulder employers require employees to have three
or more years of service to earn three weeks of vacation; UCAR employees
begin earning three weeks of vacation after two years of service. About a
third of Denver/Boulder employers have formal policies for personal days
off, giving employees two or three additional days per year. Some 80% of
Denver/Boulder employers offer less than 11 holidays. UCAR follows the 9
federal legal holidays (with the exception of Columbus day, which is
replaced with the day after Thanksgiving) and adds 2 floater holidays
selected by employees each year.

UCAR does not discriminate against employees for religious reasons; all
employees receive equal benefits, including time off. Employees needing
time off for religious purposes should work with their supervisors.
Supervisors have several options to accommodate these requests; vacation
time is one. Division and Program Administrators were contacted last year
concerning such requests, and there were no problems reported with
accommodating employees' needs.

UCAR's leave policy is currently under review. Consideration is being given
to additional employee flexibility to cover personal, family, and other
needs. I expect we'll know more about any changes in the policy by the
first quarter of next calendar year.

-Bob Roesch, Director, Human Resources