What are blackout days?
The reference to “black-out” days is part of the Personal Leave language found in 10.1.2 of the UFEA contract. While personal leave may be taken for any reason, historically the district has desired to have certain days — days which they deemed to be more important for instructional reasons or more difficult to staff with substitutes — during which bargaining unit members could not use personal leave without special approval. UFEA has successfully bargained a reduction in the number of blackout days over time. Originally, there were far more of these blackout days than currently exist.
When are blackout days?
Currently, the only days during which personal leave may not be taken (without approval of the Superintendent or designee in consultation with the UFEA president) are the first five days of the school year, the last five days of the school year, the day before or after an extended break (Thanksgiving, Winter, Spring Break), and parent/teacher conference day. Additionally, in the months of April, May and June, no more than 3 bargaining unit members or 5% of the homebased staff per building may be absent on any given day due to personal leave.
How do I request off on a black out day?
An exception to the blackout days may be granted by the Superintendent (or designee) in consultation with the UFEA president. In order to request approval to use personal leave on a blackout day, it is recommended that the bargaining unit member seeking the exception reach out to Human Resources and the UFEA President to begin the process. An email is sufficient. HR will provide a response to the request, and the decision is final and not subject to the grievance process. However, if members have questions they should reach out to the UFEA president. Exceptions will be granted on rare occasions based on the guidelines we’ve bargained with the district:
- the request must be submitted in writing to the Director of HR at least ten (10) calendar days before the date the bargaining unit member wants to use a personal day and the request must provide the reason for the exception
- the request must be for a significant once-in-life time event for which the bargaining unit member has no control over the scheduling, and it can’t be for vacation, travel or recreational purposes
Can I call in sick on a blackout day?
If a bargaining unit member is sick, they should be using sick leave (10.1.1 Sick Leave). There are no “blackout” days for sick leave, only for personal leave.
For what reasons or events may I request a blackout exception?
No request will be approved for vacation, travel or recreational purposes. Requests are commonly made for reasons such as moving a child to college, attending a wedding for a family member (for which the bargaining unit member had no control over the scheduling) and graduations.
How much notification do I need to give to ask for a blackout exception?
It is the bargaining unit member’s responsibility to submit the written request at least ten (10) calendar days prior to the absence.
I have to move my child into college on the first attendance day of the year. Can I take off work?
Possibly. The bargaining unit member will need to follow the process and procedures for requesting a blackout exception if they desire to use a personal day for such a purpose.
I have to travel to a wedding out of state the day before Thanksgiving break. Can I take off work?
Possibly. The bargaining unit member will need to follow the process and procedures for requesting a blackout exception if they desire to use a personal day for such a purpose. It’s likely the request would not be approved for travel to the wedding, but it may be approved if the wedding itself is on the blackout day and the bargaining unit member had no control over the scheduling of the event.
I’m wanting to go on vacation and leave the day before Winter Break. Can I take off work?
Possibly, however this request may be denied due to it being for recreational purposes and travel. Bargaining unit members do then have the option to request an unpaid day to take this day off.
I’m wanting to go on vacation and take the day after Labor Day off as a personal day. Can I ask for a blackout exception?
Labor Day is not one of the listed holidays that require a blackout exception. The bargaining unit member is able to take off the day after Labor Day so long as they have personal leave available and follow the normal process and procedures for taking a personal day.