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OFM Defines "Undue Hardship" for Newly Required Unpaid Holidays


June 4, 2014 by Paul Sullivan
Category: Leave Policies

Chapter 168, Laws of 2014, which goes into effect on June 12, entitles state and local government employees "to two unpaid holidays per calendar year for a reason of faith or conscience or an organized activity conducted under the auspices of a religious denomination, church, or religious organization." See Two New (Unpaid) Holidays for Government Employees. The statute permits the denial of a holiday request if "the employee’s absence would impose an undue hardship on the employer or the employee is necessary to maintain public safety." The Office of Financial Management (OFM) was given the task to define what constitutes an "undue hardship."

OFM has now issued an emergency rule (WAC 82-56-010) defining "undue hardship" and addressing the process to use when a request is made by an employee covered by a collective bargaining agreement. Local governments should review and include or reference the OFM emergency rule in developing their local policies for granting the new unpaid holidays.  Also, MRSC has prepared a model policy which can be used to assist in the preparation of a local policy.

MRSC is a private nonprofit organization serving local governments in Washington State. Eligible government agencies in Washington State may use our free, one-on-one Ask MRSC service to get answers to legal, policy, or financial questions.

About Paul Sullivan

Paul has worked with local governments since 1974 and has authored MRSC publications on local elections, ordinances, and general local government operations. He also provides training on the Open Public Meetings Act.

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