I had to do some interesting math this week. According to the union agreement, there is a cap on the number of vacation hours you can carry over at the end of the fiscal year. If you have hours over the cap after June 30th, you lose those hours. No, you don’t get paid out for them. I presume it’s to prevent you saving up hours and then taking a huge amount of vacation at once, making you unavailable when you’re needed.
There’s a double issue for me as well. Instructors are not supposed to take vacation in between September and the end of April. This is reasonably sensible, since you really can’t go anywhere during the terms when you’re supposed to be teaching. I say, “reasonably sensible” because it’s been reasonably applied here as well. If, for example, there are days of the week when you don’t teach, there has been quite a bit of leniency on behalf of the college to ignore the rule when you apply for vacation that would only include those days. And, when your courses are online and there isn’t a huge requirement for your presence in a specific location, instructors have been permitted to take vacation during the term so long as they have access to the internet to deliver lessons while away.
Having spent most of the last six months on sick leave, I’m facing being substantially over the cap come the end of the fiscal year. The alternative is to basically force the end of the term and being gone after the last exam date. This isn’t a good choice as, sometimes, students have issues that make writing the final during the exam period impossible. Please note here that I do differentiate between the concept of “reason” and “excuse” and that not all of the cirucmstances are as pressing as they could be. But, often, there are really good reasons why a student needs to write a final or submit assignments late. Therefore, I was officially “in a pickle.”
After a chat with the department chair, the pickle has ended. I don’t have classes on Fridays. Therefore, starting this week, I have every second Friday, at least, off. This makes it easier to manage vacation time in the spring without losing vacation.
Now, there is another option. Another clause in the CBA does allow for reinstate of hours over the cap if you took time off for sick, bereavement, or special leave. This is not a given and requires approval of both the college and the employee. My chair and I both decided not to go this route. After all, who wants to do the paperwork when every second weekend is a long weekend….