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Benefits and Wellness

Use Personal Observance Leave on a Day Significant to You

A photo of Ursula Hairston.
Ursula Hairston is assistant vice chancellor for HR strategy.  

The opportunity to commemorate religious and cultural holidays is important to many of us. The observation of those holidays can be quiet and simple or boisterous and grand. What matters is you have the opportunity to observe the day significant to you.

Personal observance leave provides that opportunity. Since 2022, NC State employees have used personal observance leave over 12,400 times. I encourage employees who are eligible for personal observance leave to take advantage of it. Those employees can use eight hours of paid leave to observe any day that is significant to them, including cultural and religious holidays such as Ash Wednesday, Diwali and the Chinese New Year. 

The state of North Carolina grants state employees 12 paid holidays annually. In June 2022, Gov. Roy Cooper recognized Juneteenth, a federally recognized holiday that commemorates the legal emancipation of enslaved people in America, as a day of cultural significance when he established personal observance leave for state employees who work in cabinet-level agencies. Cooper called for other state entities to establish personal observance leave for their workers. UNC System President Peter Hans authorized all UNC System institutions to offer personal observance leave for eligible leave-earning employees.

“The State of North Carolina strives to be an employer of choice, including recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce and creating an inclusive environment,” according to the Personal Observance Leave Policy in the State Human Resources Manual. “The State employs a robust and diverse workforce, reflecting the multiple cultural and religious communities of our State.”

Whether or not Juneteenth is a holiday you celebrate, we can acknowledge that the recognition of it led to something that benefits numerous employees. I can certainly celebrate that!