4.04 Extended Leave of Absence

Origination date: 10/1/93
Revised: 1/1/2000
Applicability: Academic Professionals, Administrators, Classified Staff, Faculty, Service Professionals

Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to recognize that employees may need to take time away from work that is not covered under the Family Medical Leave policy. This time away from work may be with pay, as in the case where accrued compensatory time, vacation or sick leave time is used by the employee to continue on a paid status, or the leave may be
without pay.

Eligibility

Regular employees working 50% time (20 hours per week) or more for a continuous period of six months or more are eligible to request an extended 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 and the time will not be used for the purpose of obtaining employment outside the university. Fraudulent use of this benefit may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination.

Duration of Qualifying Reasons

In no instance will combined sick leave, family medical leave of absence, extended leave of absence or any combination of paid or unpaid leaves be for more than 12 months.

Eligible employees can be granted leave in a 12-month period as long as the time away from work does not exceed the number of days actively at work the prior year (e.g., an eligible employee has worked only nine months, then the employee is eligible for a maximum of nine months of leave).

If the employee requests an extended leave of absence for medical reasons, he/she must provide a physician’s statement specifying the purpose and duration of the extended leave. If the employee has exhausted available Family Medical Leave of Absence under policy 4.05, the leave will be approved for up to an additional three-month period. Further requests may be made in increments of up to three months with the same medical certification up to the one-year limit. An employee may be required to submit subsequent certifications after a leave is approved but not more frequently than every 30 calendar days.

If the employee requests an extended leave of absence for personal reasons, he/she must provide an adequate explanation of the reason. Personal reasons include, but are not limited to, enrollment in educational coursework related to the employee’s position, temporary relocation of spouse/partner, or family emergency. The approval of such leave shall largely depend upon the circumstances, specialization or critical nature of the employee’s position as well as the practicality of replacing the employee.

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.

Documentation Requirements

Based on the reason for the leave, the employee will be responsible for providing adequate documentation to support the leave request. The leave request should be made at least 30 days prior to the beginning of the leave or as soon as practical. The leave request is first submitted to the immediate supervisor, then to the department head and area vice president/provost for approval. The approval will not exceed three levels of approval. It is then sent to the Human Resources Department for tracking and final review.

Effect on Benefits

If the employee is on paid status, the university will continue paying the employer portions of the premiums and deducting the employee portion.

If the employee is taking the leave without pay, then he/she will have to make personal payments for the full premium for those benefits he/she wants to remain in force. Participation in health, dental, automobile insurance, life insurance, long and short-term disability insurance may only be continued if the employee pays the required premiums on the established due date. Arrangements for personal payments must be made with the Human Resources Department prior to the beginning of the leave. Failure to make such arrangement prior to the beginning of the leave could result in termination of the employee's benefits.

Leave Accruals: Vacation and sick leave hours will only 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 employee will be returned to his/her former or essentially equal position upon returning from leave. If the leave is based on medical needs, the employee is responsible for providing adequate documentation to support return to work and/or fitness for duty.

If a department head has reason to question the capacity of an employee to perform duties and responsibilities, the department head 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 he/she:

  • fails to return to work upon the expiration of the Extended Leave of Absence or date agreed upon; or
  • fails to contact his/her department head two weeks prior to the end of the Extended Leave of Absence to request an extension (if applicable); or
  • advises the university of his/her intention not to return to work; or
  • refuses comparable reemployment.