4.04 Extended Medical Leave of Absence

Origination date: 10/01/93

Revised: 01/01/2000, 04/01/2018

Applicability: Academic Professionals, Administrators, Classified Staff, Faculty, and Service Professionals

Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to recognize that employees may need to take continuous time away from work that is not covered under the Family Medical Leave policy.

Regular employees working for a continuous period of six months or more are eligible to request an Extended Medical Leave of Absence from the university. This request must include an assurance the employee intends to return to work at the end of the leave of absence. 

Qualifying Reasons

An Extended Medical Leave of Absence may be requested to care for the spouse, child, or parent of an employee if such spouse, child, or parent has a serious health condition or because an employee’s own serious health condition prevents them from performing the essential job functions of their position.  Leave of absence for the birth or adoption of a child is not covered under this policy.  Please see Family Medical Leave of Absence Policy #4.05 and Parental Leave of Absence Policy # 4.16.

Unauthorized or fraudulent use of this benefit may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination.

Duration

Eligible employees can be granted leave in a 6-month period as long as the time away from work does not exceed the number of days actively at work in the preceding 6 months (e.g., if an employee has worked only three months, then the employee is eligible for a maximum of three months of leave).

Extended Medical Leave of Absence is for continuous time away from work and is not permitted on an intermittent basis.

Extended Medical Leave of Absence will run concurrently with Family Medical Leave of Absence (FMLA) and Industrial Leave of Absence, as applicable.

With the exception of Extended Military Leave of Absence (see policy # 4.15 , in no instance will combined paid or unpaid leaves of absence, for which the employee is eligible, be for more than 6 months (calculated as 183 full or partial days).

An employee will not be required to remain on leave for any minimum period and should return when able to resume the performance of duties.

Pay Status

To remain in a paid status, employees are required to report all time away from work following Human Resources Department procedures.  The university will require the employee to use accrued sick and/or vacation time, as defined by those policies, for all or any part of the Extended Medical Leave of Absence period necessary to maintain a fully paid status.  Use of paid time off will occur in the order of all available sick time and then vacation time.  Non-exempt employees may also use accumulated compensatory time balances after sick and vacation time are depleted.

The employee will be on an unpaid status when accrued sick and vacation time balances are depleted.

Employee Responsibilities

Requests for Extended Medical Leave of Absence must be submitted following Human Resources Department procedures and made at least thirty days in advance of the need for leave when the need for such leave is foreseeable. Failure to follow procedures or timelines may result in the denial or delay of Extended Medical Leave of Absence.

An employee must provide a certificate of health care provider specifying the purpose and duration of the Extended Medical Leave of Absence. An employee may be required to submit subsequent certifications after a leave is approved but not more frequently than every 30 calendar days.  Failure to provide medical certification may delay commencement of the leave or may result in denial of the request.

Employees who have requested an Extended Medical Leave of Absence must provide Human Resources and their department up to date contact information (e-mail, phone and home address) for the duration of their leave of absence.  In addition, they must respond to inquiries from Human Resources and their department in a timely manner.

It is the employee’s responsibility to notify Human Resources and their supervisor of the intent to return to work at least two weeks prior to reporting back to work to facilitate planning and completion of paperwork.  A physician’s release will be required if the Extended Leave of Absence is based on the employee’s own medical condition.

If an employee’s expected return to work date changes due to their medical condition, the employee must provide Human Resources an updated certificate of health care provider indicating a new estimated return to work date as soon as the information becomes available, but no later than the original return to work date.  If an employee does not return to work on the expected return date, any additional time away may be considered an unauthorized absence.

Effect on Benefits

Voluntary Benefits: The university will continue to pay the employer’s portion of voluntary benefits premiums including medical and dental insurances for the duration of the Extended Medical Leave of Absence whether the employee is in a paid or unpaid status.  While in a paid status, premiums will continue to be collected through payroll deductions.  If the employee is in an unpaid status, premiums will be collected through personal payments.  However, if the employee’s portion of the premium payment is more than 30 days late, the university may discontinue coverage.

Leave Accruals: Vacation and sick hours will accrue while an employee is on a paid status.

Retirement: No refund of any retirement contribution is made upon the commencement of the leave, since the return of the employee is anticipated. Service credits do not accrue during any period of unpaid leave, but will commence upon the employee's return to work.

Other Benefits: The educational aid benefit remains in effect for employees during the leave period as does the use of university facilities.

Continuous Service: Computation of service dates for continuous service, vacation accrual rates, seniority, and general pay adjustments will include this leave as creditable service providing the employee returns to work on the first workday following the termination of the authorized leave.

Return to Work

The granting of Extended Medical Leave of Absence will in most circumstances be followed by the employee’s return to their former or essentially equal position.  The practical effect of this is that the department head should hold the employee's regular position anticipating the employee's return from Extended Medical Leave of Absence.  However, the department head can hire a temporary replacement for the duration of the leave. 

If the leave is based on the employee’s own medical condition, the employee is responsible for providing adequate documentation to support a return to work.

An employee who is unable to return to the full duties and schedule of their position upon expiration of the maximum leave of absence time allowed by university policy is not guaranteed continued employment.

Employees with disabilities are encouraged to consult with the Disability Resources Office regarding possible reasonable accommodation which may provide additional leave options and/or assist them to return to work.

If the university has reason to question the capacity of an employee to perform duties and responsibilities, the university may choose to require the employee to be examined by a physician of the university’s choosing for a “fitness for duty” examination.

Failure to Return or Accept Employment

An employee will be considered to have voluntarily terminated employment if they:

  • fail to return to work upon the expiration of the approved Extended Medical Leave of Absence or date agreed upon or any extension thereof; or
  • fail to contact their department head at least two weeks prior to the end of the Extended Medical Leave of Absence to request an extension (if applicable); or
  • advise the university of their intention not to return to work; or
  • refuse comparable reemployment.

An employee who voluntarily terminates at the end of the Extended Medical Leave of Absence for reasons listed above will be required to return to the university the full insurance premiums paid by the university on behalf of that employee during the period of the Extended Medical Leave of Absence.