Q: Can an employee use state leave at the beginning of the school year?
A: State personal leave must be made available for use at the beginning of the school year. Employees cannot be required to earn state leave or work a specific number of days before they can use it. This means that state leave should be available beginning on the first day the employee is required to work for the school year even if the start date is before the first day of the fiscal year.
In Jaworski v. South San Antonio the commissioner held that eligibility for state leave is based solely on status as a district employee, even if an employee is on unpaid leave and that South San Antonio ISD’s practice of requiring an employee to show up to work in order to accrue state leave violated state law. Rather, employees are entitled to five days of state leave if they are employed by the district for the entire school year (Tex. Comm’r of Educ. Decision No. 019-R10-1209 (July 2, 2012)).
However, if the individual is employed after the year begins or leaves the district before it ends, his or her state leave is prorated based on the number of days employed.
A detailed discussion of Jaworski v. South San Antonio is available in the Texas School Law eSource.
Districts may choose whether to advance local leave in the same manner as state leave or allow it to be used only as it’s earned. The rate at which employees earn local leave is an administrative issue that should be addressed in procedures or regulations and aligned with local pay practices. Local leave accrual can be based on the payroll schedule, a monthly basis (e.g., one day or set number of hours per month), or on the number of days worked (e.g., one-half day for each 18 days worked). Some districts further clarify in policy that local leave is only earned while in paid status.
Additional information on leave accrual, recording, and use is available in the HR Library and The Administrator’s Guide to Managing Leaves and Absence (available in the TASB Store). Please contact HR Services if you have any questions.