Cherry Blossoms

Discretionary Leave

Definitions and Restrictions

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Discretionary Leave is paid time off work that a department chair or dean may award to a professional staff employee, or to a SAG-AFTRA contract-covered employee, over and above the employee’s earned annual leave totals.  No more than six days of discretionary leave may be awarded per calendar year to any individual employee.  Discretionary Leave may NOT be awarded to employees who have more than 280 hours of annual leave “banked” in their vacation leave accounts.

When Should Discretionary Leave be Awarded?

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Discretionary Leave is a way to recognize special achievements and extraordinary work efforts by a professional staff member that have significantly contributed to the unit’s mission, goals and/or objectives.  It is not intended as a substitute for merit pay increases, or for circumstances covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act.  Discretionary Leave is particularly appropriate when a professional staff member has taken on temporary additional duties or when, temporarily, the press of their normal work duties becomes especially heavy and so requires exceptional effort to complete.  If a professional staff member’s duties regularly require excessively long hours to complete, then their job duties should be audited and adjustments made to those duties.  Discretionary Leave should not be used as a substitute for overtime pay or compensatory time accrual.

Discretionary Leave recognizes and rewards high achievement in exceptional circumstances.  It should not be regarded as a regular part of an employee’s compensation, no matter how meritorious that employee might be. 

How Much Discretionary Leave Should I Award?

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This is up to the department chair or dean.  Most awards of Discretionary Leave are for two to four days.  It is very rare that as much as six days of Discretionary Leave would be approved.  

Discretionary leave may be taken in partial or full days of time off work. 

What are the Limits on Discretionary Leave?

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Discretionary Leave must be used by March 31st of the calendar year following the calendar year in which it is awarded.  It must be used before vacation leave.  This deadline cannot be extended. Unused discretionary leave has no cash value and cannot be paid, nor does it transfer to a new organizational unit if the professional staff member changes jobs.  Discretionary Leave may not be donated as shared leave.

How Do I Award Discretionary Leave?

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The professional staff member’s supervisor prepares a written request to the department chair or dean that explains the nature and duration of the assignment for which Discretionary Leave is to be awarded and the number of days of Discretionary Leave that are recommended.  The department chair or dean reviews the request and approves, denies, or modifies the Discretionary Leave award.

If approved, a copy of the approval should be retained in the employee’s department file to support entries made in Workday.