Published: June 1, 2021

Buffalo statue in the snowDear Staff,

Human Resources and Staff Council have received inquiries and comments about the recently announced winter break.  Some have expressed gratitude and others have expressed concern about the intention and implications of offering a weeklong break at the end of the year.  For those who expressed concern, we want you to know we heard you and we want to offer a response with the hope of providing clarity and easing those concerns.

It is always difficult in a community as diverse and expansive as ours to launch an initiative that satisfies everyone’s wishes and needs but it was in the spirit of providing a well-deserved break to employees that the winter break decision was made.  We learned this past year that designating a break, between semesters when the campus is quiet, to give people a collective time away contributed to the well-being of CU Boulder employees.  We heard this past January from many employees who were grateful for the break and who said they felt rejuvenated and who suggested we should continue to offer winter break. 

In response to the success of winter break last year, campus leadership announced it would continue to offer the break going forward.  The break allows for departments and units to remain open and employees to work if necessary.  It also allows supervisor discretion to allow alternate days of leave for employees who work during the break.  If you do not wish to take off during this week, it would be appropriate for you to ask your supervisor whether you can work during the non-holiday day(s).  If you are required to work during this week, you can request alternate days off.

It also allows for personal leave to cover up to two days off during the week if holidays do not cover any of these days.  The concerns we have heard relate to this usage of personal leave.  While it is possible that employees will be required to take personal leave, there are measures in place that limit the likelihood that personal leave will be needed.

We have already discussed the discretion that supervisors have to require or allow work during the break, meaning some employees’ personal leave will not be impacted at all.  We also anticipate that, as has happened pretty consistently in the past, the governor will grant a holiday, meaning there would be one less day of personal leave required.  Campus leadership also has the ability to grant administrative leave if they feel it is fiscally responsible to do so.  This occurred last year and remains an option going forward.

In sum, while many of us may need to use a small amount of personal leave during winter break, there is flexibility in the administration of the week and factors that will likely limit or eliminate the need to use personal leave.  Based upon where the days fall on the calendar, each year will likely be slightly different from the year before.

We hope this response clarifies the intent of the winter break decision and highlights that the flexibility we have built in hopefully allows you to benefit from it.


Staff Council - Chris Muldrow, Hannah Simonson, Dylan West
Human Resources - Lisa Landis, Katherine Erwin

If you have additional questions, be sure to check out our other article in this newsletter, HR Answers Your Winter Break Questions