Vacation Time Off

Effective: Moved to Policy Library from UPM 3.5(5)
Updated/Revised: July 1, 2019
Contact: University Human Resources (UHR) Employee/Labor Relations Office


This policy provides information regarding accrual and usage of vacation time off.

Policy Statement


Full-time, non-temporary faculty, professional and scientific (P&S), and pre/post-doctoral research associates with appointments exceeding three months, accrue vacation time off on a monthly basis at the rate of two days for each full month of employment. This accrual rate includes two personal holidays per year. Vacation time off for full-time employees may accrue to twice the annual entitlement. Employees employed less than full-time accrue pro-rated vacation time off based on their fractional appointment. Maximum accrual is also pro-rated. Nine-month faculty are not eligible to accrue vacation time off.

Merit employees in non-temporary positions accrue vacation based on years of continuous employment.

  • 1 - 4 years: 10 days per year (plus 2 personal holidays)
  • 5 - 11 years: 15 days per year (plus 2 personal holidays)
  • 12 - 19 years: 20 days per year (plus 2 personal holidays)
  • 20 - 24 years: 22 days per year (plus 2 personal holidays)
  • 25+ years: 25 days per year (plus 2 personal holidays)

Employment history with other State of Iowa agencies, including Board of Regents institutions, prior to employment with Iowa State University, will be credited to the employee's service record in calculating vacation time off. The history must be consecutive and continuous. Evidence of former state employment must be furnished by the employee to his or her department and to University Human Resources.

Employees who have an interruption of their employment with the university due to military service and return to university employment immediately upon receiving their discharge will be entitled to include the duration of such military service in computing the years of employment by the university. Special permission must be granted for credit that might be earned under a voluntary re-enlistment after the initial tour of duty.

Non-temporary and probationary part-time employees will accrue vacation in an amount equivalent to their fractional employment. Employees on fractional employment will be considered to have completed one year of service on the anniversary date of their employment for the purpose of determining their annual vacation accrual rate.

Vacation time off does not accrue during unpaid times off, unpaid leaves of absence, or when receiving donated catastrophic leave donations. Vacation time off continues to accrue during paid medically-related disability leave.


Vacation time off may be granted to the tenth of an hour by the employee’s manager or delegate. In no case may an employee be granted vacation in excess of the amount earned by the employee. There is no minimum employment duration that employees must pass in order to request accrued vacation time off. Employees may not use vacation until it is available in their vacation time off balance.

Excluding the break times outlined in the Staffing Guidance for University Breaks (see Resources below), an employing department may require employees to take vacation time off whenever, in its judgment, such action will be in the interests of the department. The employing department shall consult with Employee and Labor Relations or their respective senior vice president or dean prior to requiring the use of vacation time off.

Officially designated holidays falling within a period of vacation time off shall not be counted against vacation time off.

Employees are expected to utilize all accrued vacation prior to separation from the university, if at all possible. If the employee and the supervisor determine it is not possible for the employee to utilize all of the vacation to which he or she is entitled prior to termination, payment will be made for the unused accrued vacation at the time of separation.

Employees on term appointments funded entirely by grants or contracts will be required to take all of their accrued vacation during the period of the appointment and will forfeit any vacation not taken, unless prior arrangements to do otherwise are made with their supervisor and the chair or director of the department. In these cases, personnel should be informed at the beginning of their appointments that "all accrued vacation must be taken during the term of appointment."

Upon Separation from Employment

Upon separation from employment, an employee shall be paid for any accrued vacation. The ending date of employment cannot be extended by using vacation. Exceptions to this policy must be approved by University Human Resources. 

For death of an employee, the university will pay to the estate the salary of the deceased to the end of the month in which the death occurred or amount of accrued vacation, whichever is greater. 

Graduate Assistant Leave 

Arrangements for a leave of absence are made between the graduate assistant and that assistant's supervisor. When a graduate student employee needs to be absent either for personal reasons or illness, the supervisor should be understanding and accommodating to that need. At the same time, the graduate assistant should attempt to plan personal leave so that it does not interfere with or cause neglect of the duties associated with his or her appointment. Supervisors of graduate assistants are responsible for ensuring that their assistants do not exceed reasonable limits for leave.