CPS Proposes Changes to Decades-Old Employee Vacation Policy to Rein in Payouts 

New Policy Cuts Number of Maximum Vacation Days Employees Can Accrue by More Than Half


February 15, 2012


As part of an ongoing effort to revise decades-old sick and vacation day policies for non-union employees, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) officials today released the details of a revised vacation day policy that will reduce by more than half the maximum number of vacation days that can be accrued and will realize an estimated $2.5 million in future annual savings while preserving key benefits for employees. CPS is expected to present the plan as part of a resolution to the Board of Education at its monthly meeting next week. 


Over the last five years, CPS has spent more than $41 million in vacation day payouts to all departing employees, with approximately $5 million being paid to non-union employees annually.


Vacation days are both a benefit and a right earned by our employees for the important work they do on behalf of Chicago Public School children, said CPS CEO Jean Claude Brizard. However, we can no longer afford policies of the past that drain critical dollars from our system. This new policy is both fair and reasonable, and will prevent excessive payouts that take dollars out of our classrooms and away from our children.


CPS employees currently earn three to five weeks of vacation time per year, dependent upon their role within the organization. All unused vacation days earned and accrued are eligible for carry-over from year to year up to a maximum of 66 days for employees with 21 or more years of service, 53 days for employees with more than ten years of service, and 40 days for employees with less than ten years of service. Cash  payouts are currently offered for departing employees.


“In these tight economic times, when CPS is focused on keeping as many dollars in the classroom as possible, these large one-time payouts, must be scaled back,” Brizard added.


The revised policy that CPS will propose to the Board will significantly reduce large payouts by capping the maximum accrual for unused vacation days by more than half, leading to an estimated future savings of at least $2.5 million per year. 


Under this new proposal:

  • Employees will be able to only carry over five days from one year to the next and the maximum number of days an employee can accrue will be capped at 30 days (compared to up to 66 which is the current policy.) 
  • The proposed vacation policy ensures that benefits earned by employees in the form of unused vacation days will not be taken away. Current employees will continue to have the option of using those days as paid vacation days off work or receiving payment in full for those unused days upon their departure.
  • No change is proposed for how employees earn vacation days.  The only change is in the number of days allowed for carry over.
  • Upon approval by the board, the proposed policy will be effective immediately for new hires. 
  • The policy will be effective for current Central Office non-union employees beginning 7/1/2013.  Current Principals and APs, school-based, non-union staff will transition to this new policy in phases; effective 7/1/2013, the maximum accrual for vacation days will be no more than 50 days.
  • Effective 7/1/2014 the proposed policy will apply to all employees.


The proposed policy change would impact all non-represented employees which include Central Office staff, Principals, Assistant Principals, network staff, Military Instructors, School Business Managers and School Operations Managers.  There are currently more than 3,100 non-union employees in CPS. 


About CPS

Chicago Public Schools serves 405,000 students in 675 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.


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