Guidebook for City of Houston Municipal Employees


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Section V - Time Off


In addition to the benefits outlined in Section IV, the City of Houston also provides paid time off. Paid time off is subject to management approval.




Permanent, full-time employees accumulate vacation hours each pay period. The following chart summarizes the amount of vacation hours earned per year:


Years of completed service Vacation hours earned per year
Year 1-4
Year 5
Year 6 and 7
Year 8 and 9
Year 10 and 11
Year 12
Year 13
Year 14
Year 15
Year 16
Year 17
Year 18+


You may use earned vacation after six months of employment. You may take up to 90 days of vacation in a calendar year. Upon termination, you are eligible to be paid for unused accrued vacation leave, as follows: (1) If you were hired prior to Jan. 1, 2000, you may accrue and carry forward from year to year a maximum of 720 vacation hours (90 days); (2) If you were hired on or after Jan. 1, 2000, you may accumulate and carry forward a maximum of 360 hours (45 days).


Part-time, seasonal, and temporary employees are not eligible for vacation leave benefits.




The city observes 11 paid holidays (New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King’s birthday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Veterans’ Day, two days at Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and a floating holiday). The specific dates are subject to City Council approval each year.


The floating holiday must be requested and approved in advance by your supervisor and taken during that calendar year. Floating holidays are not accrued.


If you are hired on or before June 30 of the year, you will be eligible to take the floating holiday that year. If you are hired on or after July 1, you will be eligible for the floating holiday in the next calendar year.


A calendar showing all approved city holidays is available on the HR Web site .


Sick Leave


The city provides paid sick leave. Sick leave is to be taken only in cases when your medical or health condition renders you unable to work, or for personal appointments with your health care provider. Sick leave is not available for the illness of family members.


Employees hired after 1985 belong to the Compensable Sick Leave (CSL) plan.


Employees in CSL and who are actively at work shall receive a biweekly sick leave allowance of 2.50 hours per pay period, up to a maximum of 65 hours per benefit year (Sept. 1 – Aug. 31). To encourage good attendance and help you build up security for the future, at the end of a full benefit year the City of Houston will match any sick leave hours that you have accrued but not used during the year. These hours will be added to your accruals to a maximum of 1,040 hours. At this point, you will continue to accrue any unused sick hours up to 65 hours for each benefit year, but the city will no longer match unused hours. The 1,040-hour period is designed to provide you with enough leave for six months of illness until long-term disability benefits may begin (see Section IV).


If your sick leave balance is greater than 1,040 hours at the time of your termination, you will be paid for all unused sick hours in excess of 1,040 at your current rate of pay.


The city also rewards good attendance. The benefit year for sick leave is Sept. 1 – Aug. 31. On Sept. 1, you will receive an award of personal leave days (8 hours) if you have good attendance in the previous benefits year, as follows:


Sick Days Used (Eight-Hour Days) Personal Leave Days Earned


Personal leave days must be used during the benefit year in which they were awarded and may not be carried over.


Sick leave absences exceeding 64 hours in one benefit year will require a health care provider’s certificate to qualify for payment of accrued leave benefits if authorized. You should give the certificate to your supervisor immediately upon returning to work attached to your CSC Form 206.


Additionally, employees in the CSL plan who have completed a full benefit year of service are entitled to use up to eight hours of wellness leave during the next benefit year. Wellness leave is to be used for physical examinations and other preventive medical appointments and requires advance notice and documentation from the health provider.


For more information regarding sick leave, consult the Understanding Your Benefits brochure or contact your human resources liaison.


Family and Medical Leave


The city observes the requirements of the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993. You may be entitled to up to 12 weeks of approved family/medical leave for the following:


1. Your own serious health condition
2. The serious health condition of your parent, spouse, or child
3. The birth of your child and/or to care for such child within 12 months of birth
4. The placement of a child with you for adoption or foster care, and/or to care for the newly placed child within 12 months of the placement


For additional information about FMLA, check with your supervisor or contact your department’s FMLA coordinator. Refer to Executive Order 1 – 34, “Family and Medical Leave.”


Lunch and Rest Breaks


You will generally be allowed time for lunch and up to two rest breaks in accordance with your department’s operational needs. Time and frequency of the breaks may vary from one area to another. During such breaks you must not disrupt other employees who are working. Refer to Mayor’s Policy No. 606, “Lunch and Rest Breaks.”


Death In Family


You may be allowed up to three paid days off after a death in your immediate family. Immediate family includes your father or father-in-law, mother or mother-in-law, sister, brother, spouse, child or stepchild, grandparent or grandchild. Other relations by blood or marriage may also be included if, in the opinion of your management, your presence would be appropriate given the nature of the individual relationship. Additional time off, if needed, can be allowed by your department, but must be from other paid leave balances, or taken as unpaid leave. Refer to Mayor’s Policy No. 601, “Funeral Leave.”


Military Leave


You may be granted up to 15 working days of paid leave each federal fiscal year, Oct. 1 – Sept. 30, to meet your military obligations, according to Texas statute. Present the proper military orders to your supervisor for approval in advance of your leave request, or as soon as possible. If you are called to duty due to a national emergency, the City Council may grant pay differential for the time that you are on duty in excess of your 15 paid days of military leave. Pay differential provides extra compensation if your military pay is less than your city pay.


Leave of Absence Without Pay


In certain situations, your department director may grant a leave of absence for up to 14 calendar days without pay. You must request the leave in writing as soon as possible. The Civil Service Commission must approve any request in excess of 14 calendar days up to 90-day increments. Leaves of absence without pay may not exceed 180 calendar days during a 12-month period unless authorized by City Council.


Table of Contents // Intro // Section I // Section II // Section III // Section IV // Section VSection VI // Section VII // Section VIII