Personal Observance Leave

Governor Roy Cooper signed Executive Order 262 on June 6, 2022, to provide up to eight hours of paid Personal Observance Leave to employees of Cabinet Agencies. Other state agencies, commissions, boards or offices may choose to adopt the policy for their personnel.

The leave may be used by eligible employees for any single shift or calendar day of personal significance, including but not limited to days of cultural or religious importance. This is another step to help ensure that North Carolina can continue to attract, retain and support top talent in its workforce.

“North Carolina is at its best when we celebrate our diversity and show respect for the cultural and faith traditions of all North Carolinians,” Governor Cooper said. “We’re proud of our diverse, talented state government workforce and encourage employees to use this leave to observe a date that’s important to them, their family or their community.”

Read the full news release

Frequently Asked Questions

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Who is eligible for the leave?

Personal Observance Leave is available to employees of a Participating Agency who are permanent, probationary, or time-limited, and either full-time or part-time with a schedule that is at least half-time. Temporary employees, interns, and contractors are not eligible for Personal Observance Leave. Part-time employees are not eligible for Personal Observance Leave if they work less than half-time.

What agencies are participating?

All Cabinet Agency are participating as well as any state agencies, commissions, boards, or offices that choose to adopt the policy related to the Personal Observance Leave. Employees of a Non-Cabinet Agency should watch for communications from their employer related to this policy.

How much leave time will I receive?

Full-time employees will receive up to eight hours of Personal Observance Leave each calendar year.  Part-time employees will receive a prorated amount based on their number of hours compared to a full-time schedule.

When can employees begin using this leave?

Employees may begin using Personal Observance Leave on June 16, 2022. Use of this leave may be allowed sooner if a time code is able to be developed prior to that date. If that happens, this FAQ will be updated, and notification will be provided to Agency Human Resources Offices for dissemination to its employees. Employees may begin requesting use of the leave immediately.

On what days may employees use this leave?

Personal Observance Leave may be used for any single work shift that falls on a day of personal significance; it is not for use across multiple shifts. This includes, but is not limited to, days of cultural or religious importance. Regardless of the employee’s religious or cultural background, any day that the employee identifies as significant for cultural, religious, or personal reasons qualifies under the Executive Order and the Policy.

Can employees use this leave to observe or learn about someone else’s culture or religion?

Yes. Employees are encouraged to recognize, learn about, or observe cultures and religions outside of their own while utilizing this leave.

Must I request use of this leave from my supervisor?

Yes. Supervisor approval is required in advance of using this leave, but employees do not need to provide a reason for using this leave. As with other forms of leave, employees should request use of leave at least two weeks before the leave is needed unless such notice is impractical.

Do employees have to tell their supervisor/manager why they want to use this leave?

No. Employees do not need to explain or justify use of this leave.

Do employees have to use their allotment of the leave in one work shift?

Yes. The total amount of Personal Observance Leave allotted to an employee must be used on a single work shift. 

What should employees do if their shift is longer than eight hours?

The employee can take part of the shift off, or combine Personal Observance Leave with comp time or another form of leave to get the entire shift off.

Can employees use this leave instead of sick leave?

No. This leave should not be used as a substitute for sick leave.

Can employees use this leave if they have comp time available?

Employees may use Personal Observance Leave prior to exhausting any accumulated compensatory time.

How do employees request this leave?

Employees should follow the established agency procedure for requesting leave. Generally, employees should request Personal Observance Leave at least two weeks before the leave is needed unless such notice is impractical.

What code do I use when recording Personal Observance Leave on my timesheet?

This FAQ will be updated when the time code is confirmed. Direct any questions about recording time and leave to your Agency Human Resources Office.

Does this leave expire?

Yes. This leave expires if not used by the end of the calendar year. It will not be carried into the next calendar year, has no cash value, and cannot be converted into retirement credit.

Does this leave renew each year?

Yes. Employees will receive up to eight hours of Personal Observance Leave each calendar year.

Will employees still get to use the leave if they transfer between agencies during the calendar year?

It depends. If an employee moves from one Participating Agency to another Participating Agency within the calendar year, unused Personal Observance Leave will transfer to the employee’s new agency. If an employee moves from a Participating Agency to a Non-participating Agency, unused Personal Observance Leave will not transfer to the Non-participating Agency. If an employee moves from a Non-participating Agency to a Participating Agency, the employee will receive the Personal Observance Leave. 

As a manager/supervisor, should I ask my employee to explain why they want to use this leave?

No. An employee’s request to use Personal Observance Leave should be treated as sincere and legitimate. Employees do not have to pick a day from their own religious or cultural background, nor do they have to identify with a particular religion or culture to use the leave.

Do managers need to verify that employees use this leave for a cultural or religious reason?

Any request to use Personal Observance Leave should be treated as sincere and legitimate. This leave may be used by employees to observe or learn about days of significance to themselves or others, including days of cultural, religious, or personal importance. Managers and supervisors should not ask why an employee wants to use the leave or ask an employee to justify use of the leave.

What should agencies do if multiple employees request to use the Personal Observance Leave on the same day?

Agencies should, to the greatest extent possible, allow employees to use the leave at the time requested. As such, supervisors are encouraged to accommodate employees who may want to recognize the same day for Personal Observance Leave. However, when necessary to avoid impact to agency services, supervisors may ask employees to take their leave on different days.

Is an employee able to use this leave if they do not request use at least two weeks in advance?

The Leave will be available to employees for use beginning no later than June 16, 2022. Given the timing of the announcement and its proximity to Juneteenth and PRIDE celebrations, agencies should, to the greatest extent possible, allow employees to use the leave at the time requested, even if at the initial announcement of this leave, an employee is not able to request use of leave two weeks in advance. However, agencies may require that the Personal Observance Leave be taken at a time other than the one requested, based on the needs of the agency.

Is this leave going to be loaded in employees’ BEACON profile?

Initially, agency time administrators will need to monitor use of leave and ensure employees limit use to their allotted amount on a single shift. This should be temporary, and a time code will be provided that provides employees a quota of their allotted Personal Observance Leave.