Penn employees get a holiday break? Please, tell me more

Dear Benny:
I’m trying to plan ahead for the holidays. The Human Resources website lists Christmas Day and New Year’s Day as holidays observed by the Penn, but I was told the University is also closed between the two holidays. What should I know about winter break this year?
—Decking the halls

Dear Holiday Planner,
This year, Penn is closed on Dec. 25 through Jan. 1, 2014. The University reopens on Jan. 2, 2014. Christmas Day and New Year’s Day are University-recognized holidays, for which official holiday pay practices apply.

The weekdays between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day are lumped into Penn’s Special Winter Vacation, created to allow regular staff members time off with pay between the fall and spring semesters. Each year during the spring, Vice President for Human Resources Jack Heuer announces the days that will be counted toward the Special Winter Vacation. These days are not University-recognized holidays for pay computation purposes. The Special Winter Vacation days are not cumulative and are not counted in computing terminal vacation pay.

Jeffrey Rowland, manager of staff and labor relations in Human Resources, says certain University staff members may be required to work Christmas Day or during the Special Winter Vacation. Any University staff members who are required to work during this period receive equivalent time off with pay, which must be taken within 90 days.

Rowland says by offering the break, the University hopes to underscore the importance of a work-life balance and offer an opportunity for staff to refresh for the spring semester.

Other holidays recognized by the University are Martin Luther King Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, and the Friday following Thanksgiving.

For more information on holiday practices, visit the HR website.

Originally published on December 12, 2013