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Vacation Accrual: A Friendly Reminder

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With five months left in the fiscal year, it’s time for our annual reminder about how staff members accrue vacation and what portion of unused vacation can be carried into the following year.

The Basics

The Office of Human Resources (HR) encourages employees to use as much of their vacation leave as they can throughout the year. Vacations, whether full weeks or extended weekends, are an important way to re-charge your batteries, accomplish personal goals, and balance your life.

However, we know it’s not always possible to expend all of your accrued leave within a year. That’s why Lehigh’s policy does permit a certain amount of vacation to be carried over to the next year. Staff members accrue vacation time at varying rates depending on factors that include exempt or nonexempt status, hours worked per week, months worked per year, and years of service. The carry over policy, however, is the same for everyone:

  • You may carry over the equivalent of what you earned during the current fiscal year into the next fiscal year.
  • Because changing circumstances can alter the rate at which you accrue vacation, the amount may be lower or higher than you would expect at the start of the fiscal year.
  • The policy also applies to vacation pay outs at termination. Payment is limited to the amount of vacation actually earned in the 12 months preceding a staff member’s departure.
How Carry Over Can Vary

In many cases, your annual total vacation accrued may not change at all for many years. But here’s how that figure might be affected by your circumstances:

Scenario One:

Take the case of a full time nonexempt staff member with three years of service. She is eligible for a total of two weeks of vacation. But the actual number of hours she accrues depends on the number of hours she works. If she works 37.5 hours per week, she earns 6.25 hours per month. With a 30 hour per week schedule, the accrual rate would be 5.00 hours per month.

Now, what happens if she works both schedules in one fiscal year? Let’s assume her schedule is reduced from 100 percent to 80 percent mid-year. You might think that the staff member can only carry 60 hours forward, but in fact she can carry forward more because she earned more during this particular year.

Hours Worked per week

Time Period

Vacation Accrued/Month

Number of Months

Total Vacation Accrued

37.50

July through December

6.25

6

37.50

30.00

January through June

5.00

6

30.00

Total Earned and Available for Carry Forward to Next Fiscal Year

67.50



Scenario Two:


In our second case, our nonexempt employee reaches the five year service milestone on November 30. At this point, he moves into a higher category of vacation accrual – 9.375 hours per month versus 6.25 hours per month. But because he reaches this milestone mid-year he carries forward vacation based on part of the year at each accrual rate. In other words, he can only carry forward the vacation actually earned in the prior fiscal year, which is less than it would be if he earned 9.375 for 12 months.


Hours Worked per week

Time Period

Vacation Accrued/Month

Number of Months

Total Vacation Accrued

37.50

July through November

6.25

5

31.25

37.50

December through June

9.375

7

65.63

Total Earned and Available for Carry Forward to Next Fiscal Year

96.88


Scenario Three:

In our third case, we have a full time exempt staff member who increases her hours (from 75 percent to 100 percent) during the fiscal year – on March 1. At 75 percent FTE, she accrues 11.00 hours per pay and at 100 percent FTE, she accrues 14.67 hours per pay.


Hours Worked per week

Time Period

Vacation Accrued/Month

Number of Months

Total Vacation Accrued

30

July through February

11.00

8

88.00

40

March through June

14.67

4

58.68

Total Earned and Available for Carry Forward to Next Fiscal Year

146.68


What This Means For You

The important thing to remember about the vacation accrual policy is that there are times when your accrued vacation available to carry forward for the next fiscal year is the not exact number of hours or weeks you would expect. Whenever one of the factors described here changes, the amount of vacation you can carry forward into the next fiscal year may as well.

If you have questions about this vacation policy or your own balance, email Toni Lee Febbo.

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Spotlight is published monthly by Human Resources. Please address any comments to Hillary Kwiatek, Spotlight Editor, Human Resources, 428 Brodhead Avenue, send email to hik210@lehigh.edu, or call extension 85165.

Current and past issues of Spotlight can be viewed and searched at: Past Issues.