Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory masthead A-Z Index Berkeley Lab masthead U.S. Department of Energy logo Phone Book Careers Search

Limited Floating Holiday Q&A

How are the Laboratory's holidays determined?
Our holidays are specified in Appendix A to the DOE/UC contract for the management of the Laboratory.  The current holidays are New Year's Day, third Monday in January (Martin Luther King Day), third Monday in February (Presidents' Day), last Monday in May (Memorial Day), Fourth of July, Thanksgiving day, Friday following Thanksgiving day, December 24, Christmas Day, December 31, and one additional holiday to be selected by the President of the University (delegated to chancellors and laboratory directors).

Are these the same holidays as the rest of the University has?
The campuses have the same list and an additional holiday on Veterans Day.

Do all the University locations have the same administrative holiday?
No.  Each location sets the holiday that meets their particular needs.  For instance, many of the campuses used a holiday in the Spring.  Some, mainly the medical centers, use it as a floating holiday.  Berkeley Lab has used it during the winter holiday shutdown so that employees need only use two days of vacation or leave without pay during that time.

What is happening now with the holidays?  Why?
In 2000, the California Legislature established the fourth Friday in March as a paid holiday for state employees and honors Cesar Chavez.  As a State institution, the University Office of the President (UCOP) proposed observance of this holiday by renaming the "additional holiday" Cesar Chavez Day and observing it as established by the Legislature.  All UC locations would have to observe this as the official holiday, including those that use the administrative holiday as a floating holiday.  This change would take place over a period of time in order to make any necessary adjustments to the academic calendars.

What happened next?
In January 2002, the proposal was sent to all University locations with the request that employees be asked for comment with feedback to UCOP.  On February 6, 2002 Berkeley lab issued a level-1 memo on the proposed change, and asked employees to comment on the proposal as put forward by UCOP.

How did employees respond?
The Human Resources Department received 158 employee comments.  This is the largest number of comments received to propose policy change in recent memory.  Of the 158, 148 were against the proposal and 10 were in favor.

While the majority of the negative responses dealt with the issue of being forced to use a third vacation or leave without pay day during the winter holiday shutdown, a number of other reasons are also cited.  Included in the list were family reasons, displeasure that the Lab already has fewer holidays than the campuses (Veterans Day), sentiments that we should honor our veterans before a local personage, and unhappiness that UCOP is forcing employees to pay with a vacation day for its desire to be politically correct.  (It must be noted that none of those who express negative opinions were against honoring Cesar Chavez with a holiday; the feelings were against giving up a vacation day to do so.)

How did the Laboratory respond to UCOP as a result of the employee comments?
Then Lab Director Shank wrote a letter to then Assistant Vice President Levin with the results of the comments and his concerned that imposing this change on the Laboratory would have negative consequences on morale.  A cross-section sampling of the comments (both for and against) were included as an attachment.  He noted that several employees that suggested a floating holiday that could be used on either Cesar Chavez day or during the shutdown and that he supported the suggestion.

What was the result?
The Lab requested an exception to allow employees to use a floating holiday that could be used on Cesar Chavez Day, Veterans Day, or during the winter holiday shutdown.  The choice would be up to the individual employee.  UCOP approved this exception and the proposed policy change was then disseminated from play comments and implementation.

Do all Lab employees get this limited floating holiday?
No, the policy change in the rpm is for nonrepresented employees only.  Nonrepresented employees should refer to their respective bargaining agreements.

Why did the Lab ask for limited floating holiday and not one that could be used at any time?
Lab management felt that Laboratory had a good case for an exception based on the employee comment.  Since the policy enacted systemwide would force those locations with a floating holiday that could be used at any time to give it up, it was felt that the Lab would have a better chance to get the exception if it's used was limited.

Why didn't the Lab just keep the administrative holiday during the winter holiday shutdown and let those people who wanted to take Cesar Chavez or Veterans Day is a holiday use their vacation?
Management felt the limited floating holiday proposal was the most likely exception to receive UCOP approval while providing employees with the ability to manage the use of their vacation in the way most meaningful to them as individuals.