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Cleveland updates vacation policies, giving employees faster access to time off

The exterior of Cleveland City Hall.
Annie Wu
Ideastream Public Media
"I can’t imagine in today’s environment someone applying for a job at the city of Cleveland with no vacation," Ward 3 Councilmember Kerry McCormack said. "Who would take that job?"

Cleveland City Council voted Monday to approve changes to the city’s vacation policy, giving new employees two weeks of vacation after their first month on the job.

Under the previous policy, city employees waited at least a year after being hired to receive their vacation time, which was given at the start of each calendar year.

This change makes Cleveland, which has vacancies across departments, a more desirable workplace, said Ward 3 Councilmember Kerry McCormack, whose ward includes parts of Downtown, The Flats and Ohio City neighborhoods.

"I can’t imagine in today’s environment someone applying for a job at the city of Cleveland with no vacation," McCormack said. "Who would take that job?"

The change comes under the stewardship of Human Resources Director Matthew J. Cole, who assumed the role in August after Paul Patton left in March.

This will be the first of “many” policies Cole said he plans to bring forward to make Cleveland more competitive with the private sector.

"I've had people actually decline positions because we cannot compete," Cole told members of Cleveland City Council in the Finance, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee meeting on Oct. 16. "Vacation time is big, especially coming from the private sector."

The policy also amends the time it takes to earn an additional week of vacation. Workers will now get the third week of vacation after five years on the job instead of eight. Employees can accrue up to five weeks after 22 years of employment.

"We have incredible public servants here who love their city and are here because they love their city, but at the end of the day, reasonable people would look at our current policy and choose elsewhere because of it," McCormack said.

Cole said he could not yet estimate costs when asked by council, but said comparative to the costs associated with losing employees, recruiting and training new ones, it's a "better decision to make these changes for recruitment."

Other recent efforts to retain and recruit workers include a 12-week paid parental leave policy for city employees and increased pay for police officers.

Abbey Marshall covers Cleveland-area government and politics for Ideastream Public Media.