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Personal Floating Holidays

Personal floating holidays are available to staff members for personal business, family sickness, and religious observance, and may also be used as an extension of bereavement time or vacation time. Northwestern University annually provides up to three personal floating holidays as paid time away from work each fiscal year (September 1 – August 31).

Personal floating holiday time

Staff members are granted three personal floating holidays on September 1 of each fiscal year (September 1 – August 31). New staff members hired on or after September 1 are granted personal floating holidays as follows: 

Hire Date

Personal Floating Holidays Granted Upon Hire

September 1 – November 30

3 days

December 1 – February 29

2 days

March 1 – May 31

1 day 

June 1 – August 31

0 days

The hire date is a staff member’s first day of employment.

Three personal floating holidays will be granted on each subsequent September 1 following the date of hire. Personal floating holiday time is not available for use during an unpaid leave of absence. Part-time staff members receive the percentage of personal floating holiday time proportionate to the percentage of full-time that they are scheduled to work.

Using personal floating holiday time

Personal floating holiday time must be scheduled in advance and in accordance with department/unit rules. Scheduling personal floating holidays on short notice for emergency purposes is at the discretion of the supervisor, who may request documentation of the reason for the emergency.

The department/unit may limit the amount of personal floating holiday time taken at one time in consideration of departmental/unit needs.

The following conditions apply to the use of personal floating holiday time:

  • No advance: Personal floating holiday time may not be taken before it is granted.
  • Not cashable: No payment is made to a staff member in lieu of personal floating holiday time, except at termination of employment or upon change to a faculty appointment, or as otherwise referenced in the Staff Handbook.
  • Portability: Staff members who transfer from one department/unit to another staff position retain their accrued personal floating holiday time.
  • Coinciding holiday: When a University holiday falls during a staff member’s approved paid time off, the day is paid as holiday time rather than as personal floating holiday time. 

Personal floating holiday balances are maintained in the University-approved time entry system. Staff members should report personal floating holiday usage as they take the time off. For staff members in:

  • Non-exempt positions: The staff member and supervisor must sign off on personal floating holiday usage on each biweekly timesheet.
Exempt positions: The staff member and supervisor must sign off on personal floating holiday usage on a monthly basis.


Personal floating holidays that are unused at the end of the fiscal year (August 31) are forfeited.  

Transfer and separation 

When a staff member transfers to another staff position at Northwestern University, the staff member and supervisor should ensure that the University-approved time entry system is up to date and accruals are approved by the supervisor. Staff members who transfer from one department/unit to another retain their personal floating holiday time. 

When a staff member’s primary role is changed from staff to faculty, all of the staff member’s personal floating holiday time will be paid out upon transfer to the faculty status. 

On separation from the University, the staff member and supervisor must approve all vacation and personal floating holiday time balances in the University-approved time entry system to ensure the staff member receives the correct accrual payout.

For more information about the Personal Floating Holiday Time policy, refer to Page 6.2 in the Staff Handbook.