When winter commencement exercises are over each December, I breathe a sigh of relief that we have traversed another successful semester and I turn my attention to other pressing matters . . . such as finishing my Christmas shopping!
It surely is a wonderful time of year. I savor the opportunity to spend time with my family and friends and to reflect about the closing of the Advent season and the impending birth of our Savior. I hear the same from colleagues anxious to “close shop” and head home for the holidays.
This year, Christmas falls on a Thursday, meaning that our official paid holidays are Wednesday (Christmas Eve) and Thursday. When we set the holiday schedule a year ago, we chose to move our New Year’s Eve holiday to Friday, Dec. 26, allowing staff members to be off three weekdays in a row and have a five-day weekend. That also would mean they would be scheduled to work Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 22 and 23.
So . . . how would you like to have that whole week off – Monday, Dec. 22, through Friday, Dec. 26 – without having to take any vacation days?
I rather like the idea myself. In fact, I like it so much that I am in full agreement with a suggestion that we should give staff members two extra days off. Consider it a done deal!
I am grateful for your hard work and extra effort, especially in these more challenging financial times when inflation is running higher than we anticipated, the value of your retirement accounts has declined because of a bear stock market, and we are tightening our belts on institutional expenses. Given those circumstances, a couple of extra days off are indeed in order.
Some employees, including Public Safety officers, Physical Plant workers, IRT server administrators and Food Service workers, will have to work those days because they are classified as “essential” employees and are needed on campus. They will get two extra days off as well, and will need to use them by the end of the fiscal year (June 30).
Department heads must notify Human Resources by Dec. 8 if they have essential employees who must work on Dec. 22 and 23. Over the subsequent six months, department heads should notify Human Resources when those employees will take their alternative days off. I want to assure all staff members that they will get two days off, including any part-time or temporary employees whose normal days off are Monday and Tuesday.
During the long holiday break, we will turn down the thermostats in most of our buildings to conserve energy and save a few dollars. Anyone who has to work during Christmas Week may want to wear an extra sweater, but I think the situation will be tolerable.
I know we are a long way from Dec. 25 – actually, we’re still more than a week away from Thanksgiving! – but let me take advantage of this occasion to wish you an early – and a very – Merry Christmas!