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The Policy Shop: Floating Holidays

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This month in The Policy Shop we take a look at how Lehigh schedules paid holidays, and where floating holidays fit into the mix of your time away from work.

How Holidays Work At Lehigh

Each year, the university provides 12 paid holidays to benefits eligible staff.  Typically, this includes:

  • New Year's Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • The day after Thanksgiving
  • Christmas Day.

Depending on where the Christmas and New Year’s holidays fall in the week, additional scheduled holidays may be added.  If all 12 holidays are not scheduled by the university, the remaining holidays are treated as floating holidays.

Human Resources publishes the scheduled holidays and the number of floating holidays available each spring, working ahead two years so that everyone has sufficient time to plan.

You can access the holiday schedule for this year as well as the next two years on the Lehigh HR website. There is a special holiday calendar for the police and power house employees, so if you work in one of these areas, be certain to consult the right schedule.

As you can see, during the 2012-2013 fiscal year as well as the next two fiscal years, there are three floating holidays available for use each year.

The Skinny On Floating Holidays

So, what exactly is a “floating” holiday? Is it a day to drift on a raft with a refreshing tropical beverage?

If you spend yours in a pool, it can be. But a floating holiday is actually a day that can be used to cover a wide variety of time-off needs.

In HR, our standard advice is that employees should use their floating holidays at the start of the fiscal year, before starting to use vacation days. This is because floating holidays don’t carry over, so if you don’t use them by the end of the fiscal year, you will lose them.

There is an important “however” when it comes to using your floating holidays first. Here it is:

Floating holidays may be scheduled by a supervisor to coincide with dates that staffing is not required in the department. 

In some departments, the supervisor and his or her employees may wish to close the office for a holiday such as Good Friday or Yom Kippur. Others have used floating holidays to close the office during the non-holiday period between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

In any of these cases, it’s important for a supervisor to give employees plenty of advance notice, so that employees will reserve theirs for that specific time.

If your floating holidays were not scheduled by your supervisor, you may take them at a time that is mutually agreeable to you both. Just remember that they are “use or lose” paid days off.

Paid Holiday Eligibility

For full time employees, in order to qualify for a paid holiday, you must work as scheduled the day before and the day after the holiday. That requirement is waived if you are on vacation or another form of excused absence. Part time employees are only eligible for paid holidays for days on which they are scheduled to work.

For More Information

There are, of course, more ins and outs to the Holiday Policy. And we understand that different employees have different circumstances. Here are the best resources for finding the answers to your additional questions:

HR News

Workplace Learning & Wellness Programs

View Full Calendar

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

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