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Boulder County adds vacation bank for new employees

County hopes change from accrual-only system will help with recruitment and retention
Boulder County Commissioners Ashley Stolzmann, Marta Loachamin and Claire Levy on Jan. 10, 2023.

Boulder County is changing its vacation policy to give new employees a bank of days to take off instead of having to accrue hours.

Director of Human Resources Julia Larsen explained to county commissioners on Tuesday that the change was due to the significant challenges the county is facing in recruiting and retaining employees. Previously, new employees had to accrue vacation time at a rate of eight hours per month.

“Hiring managers have observed a substantial rise in the number of applicants declining job offers or engaging in extensive negotiations concerning compensation and benefits,” Larsen said in a memo to commissioners. “Multiple experienced applicants specifically mention the drawback of starting over with only eight hours of vacation accrual per month as a factor in rejecting an employment offer.”

With the change approved by commissioners on Tuesday, full time employees will now begin employment with 80 hours of vacation leave. This is in addition to the monthly accruals, which were increased with this policy change to improve employee retention as well.

Commissioners also approved end the county’s unique vacation cash out policy, which paid employees 50 cents on the dollar for up to 80 hours of vacation. Larsen said the change is meant to encourage employees to take time off to rest, and only about 2.5% of county employees took advantage of this benefit historically.

Commissioners expressed their hopes that this change would help build a culture in the county government of taking care of everyone’s health and wellbeing by using all the benefits and resources available to them.

“The point of vacation isn’t just to accrue it, it’s to use it,” Commissioner Ashley Stolzmann said.