Frequently Asked Questions


Leaves of Absence: General Questions

Q. What is a Leave of Absence?

A Leave of absence is approved time off work.  Leaves of absence can be granted for the following reasons: care for a newborn or newly adopted child, care for a seriously ill family member, employees’ personal medical condition, employees’ military service, employees’ education, employees’ government service, employees’ child, spouse or parent is called to active duty, employees’ care for covered service member with serious injury or illness incurred in active duty or employees’ personal reasons.  Employees hired into Seasonal Appointments are eligible for Seasonal Leaves of Absence.

Q. Will I get paid while I am on a leave of absence?

Leaves of absence are without compensation with the exception of Long-Term Disability Leave. 

Q. What if I have to care for a seriously ill family member?

Employees can request a Family Care Leave to care for a seriously ill family member

Q. I have been ill and have exhausted all of my sick time or PTO time and my extended sick time.  What do I do now?

Employees can request a Medical Leave of Absence if paid-time has been exhausted and the employee is still medically unable to work.

Q. I'm having a baby, what steps do I need to take to obtain time off work?

 If you have been employed at U-M for at least two years, extended sick time pay may be used as soon as your pregnancy is known to cover prenatal care doctor’s appointments.   Extended sick time pay also provides for pay during six to eight weeks of recovery time after delivery. Short-term sick time and vacation days, or PTO, can be used to extend paid time off after extended sick time pay ends.  If an employee is still medically unable to work, the employee will need to request a Medical Leave.  Employees determined to be medically able to work can return to work or request a Child Care Leave of Absence. 

If you are not eligible for extended sick time pay, you may use short-term sick-time pay, or PTO, to cover any time you are medically unable to work related to your pregnancy or delivery.  You may also use your available vacation time to supplement this time off from work.  If once your paid time off is exhausted, and you are still medically unable to work, you will need to request a Medical Leave.  Once you are medically able to work, you can either return to work or request a Child Care Leave of Absence. 

Arrangements for a gradual return to work can be discussed with the employee’s unit supervisor to ease the transition back to work.  The Office of Business and Finance has developed guidance for their employees.  Other units are welcome to visit their website for ideas and best practices on supporting a gradual return to work at http://www.bf.umich.edu/policies.html

Q. Where do I find the SPG on Leaves?

The location of the SPG for Leaves of Absence is http://spg.umich.edu/pdf/201.30-0.pdf.

Q. How do I find out if I'm eligible for a Leave of Absence?

Use the Time-Off Navigator found on this Website to determine if an employee is eligible for a leave of absence based on job title and length of service at the university.

Q. How do I request a Leave of Absence?

A Leave of Absence Request form is used to request a leave of absence.  See the checklists on this website specific to each type of leave for step-by-step instructions for requesting a leave of absence. 

Q. Who can I contact with questions about my Leave of Absence?

See the Contacts page on this website for the phone numbers of departments that can answer questions regarding leaves of absence. 

Q. When will my Leave of Absence begin?

Most Leaves of Absences begin after paid-time (such as sick-time or PTO) has been exhausted.  See the Time-Off Navigator on this website to determine if paid-time needs to be exhausted prior to going on a specific type of Leave of Absence.  If paid-time does need to be exhausted, work closely with the timekeeper (either within the department or in Payroll) to determine last day of pay; most Leaves of Absence will begin the day following last day of pay.

Q. When will my Leave of Absence end?

On the last day of the approved leave (unless an extension has been requested two weeks prior to end of leave).

Q. What information regarding my leave will I receive in the mail?

Depending on the type of leave, an employee may receive the following three mailings:

  1. If any time-off is covered under the provisions of the Family and Medical Leave Act, employees will receive a letter advising of the start and end dates of FMLA entitlement.
  2. If a request for a Leave of Absence is approved, employees will receive a letter documenting the begin and end dates of the leave.
  3. If an employee is enrolled in benefits, a “Leave of Absence Election Form” and information regarding benefit continuation will be mailed to their home address after the request for leave has been processed.  Employees will receive a separate “Leave of Absence Election Form” for periods of Leave covered by FMLA and those not covered by FMLA.
Q. Is my job protected while I'm out on a leave?

Staff members returning from child care, medical, family care or military service leaves of absence will be assigned to their former or equivalent position. Positions are not held for Educational Leaves or Long-Term Disability Leaves.

Q. How will a Leave of Absence affect my years of service?

Years of service are not affected by the Leaves of Absence.

Q. Do I need to stay in contact with my department during my leave?

It is recommended that employees stay in contact with their department or with WorkConnections, if applicable.

Q. What do I do if I need an extension on my Leave of Absence?

Employees need to contact their supervisor or WorkConnections at least two weeks prior to the end of their current leave in order to request an extension.

Q. I am still on Leave of Absence status but have returned to work.  I have not received my paycheck.  How do I become active again? 

Employees should contact their supervisor.  Supervisors need to contact their HR representative to confirm that return from leave paperwork has been processed.

Q. What if I don't return from my leave?

Failure to report for work at the conclusion of a leave without requesting and receiving an extension of the leave will be cause for termination of the staff member’s employment with the university. 

Q.  How can I tell if my Leave of Absence has been processed?

Employees can check their appointment online via Wolverine Access by selecting “Employee Business” and logging in with their Uniqname and Kerberos Password, then selecting “View Appointment” under “Employment Information”. 

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Benefits While On Leave

Q. I'm on or going on a Leave of Absence — what happens to my benefits?

Depending on the type of leave an employee takes, and whether any portion of the leave is also covered by FMLA, different rules apply to benefits during a leave of absence.  See the Benefits Office website for information on benefits while on Leave of Absence. 
http://benefits.umich.edu/events/leaves.html

Q. What are the costs of my benefits when I am on a Leave of Absence?

Depending on the type of leave an employee takes, and whether any portion of the leave is also covered by FMLA, different rules apply to benefits during a leave of absence.  See the Benefits Office website for information on benefits costs while on different types of Leave of Absence. http://benefits.umich.edu/plans/medical/LOArates.html

Q. Is there a Website to make a payment to while on Leave of Absence?

Payments can be made to the Payroll Office in the form of check or money order.
http://benefits.umich.edu/events/cobrarilpay.html

Q. I have been out on a Leave of Absence for 3 months and have returned to work and would like to enroll in benefits again.  How do I do that?

If benefits were waived while on Leave of Absence, they will be reinstated upon return from leave.  Employees who waived benefits while on Leave must report any changes (such as adding new dependents) within 30 days of returning from leave.

If benefits were continued while on Leave of Absence, employees must report any changes (such as adding new dependents) within 30 days of the event (such as childbirth).

Q.  I continued my benefits while on leave, but I am not returning to work. What will happen to my benefits? 

If employees continue their benefits through the university during a leave, and the employee does not return to the university at the end of the leave, the employee will be offered COBRA for the medical/prescription drug  insurance, dental plan, vision and health care flexible spending account. Under COBRA, the employee may continue these benefits at the employees’ own expense for up to 18 months.

Q.  I did not continue my benefits while on leave, and am not returning to work. What will happen to my benefits?

If an employee does not elect and pay to continue benefits while on leave, benefits end the first of the month following the leave, or if the leave begins on the first day of the month, benefits end of the first day of the leave.  Employees are not eligible to continue benefit through COBRA because they are not enrolled in any benefits to continue.

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FMLA

Q. What does “FMLA” mean?

“FMLA” stands for the Family and Medical Leave Act.  The university’s FMLA policy does not affect an employee’s use of paid or unpaid time away from work.  The university’s FMLA policy provides for additional rights, responsibilities and obligations that augment other university policy and practice.  These rights include university contributions to benefits for any time covered by FMLA and rights protecting return to work. 

Q.  Where can I learn about FMLA?

A complete online course is available at http://hr.umich.edu/tutorials/FMLA/.

Q. What is an FMLA Qualifying Event?

The circumstances listed below are events for which an employee qualifies for the use of FMLA:

  • Birth of the employee's child, or to care for a newborn child.
  • Placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care,
  • Care for the employee's spouse, other qualified adult, child, sibling, parent, grandparent, or other relative whose care is the responsibility of the employee, spouse, or other qualified adult with a serious health condition,
  • Serious health condition of employee, and
  • Call to Active Duty of child, spouse or parent.
Q. How much time am I entitled to under FMLA?

Eligible employees are entitled to up to 12 weeks of FMLA rights for qualifying family and medical reasons during a 12-month period. Employees taking a leave to care for covered service member with serious injury or illness are eligible for 26 weeks of leave.

Q. What form is required when requesting FMLA for my own serious health condition?

http://hr.umich.edu/hrris/forms/pdfs/requestleaveabsence.pdf

Q. What form is required when requesting FMLA for the care of a family member?

http://webapps.dol.gov/libraryforms/go-us-dol-form.asp?FormNumber=412

Q. What is the definition of a serious health condition?

A serious health condition means an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves one of the following:

  • Inpatient care (overnight stay) in a hospital, hospice, or residential medical care facility, including any period of incapacity or subsequent treatment in connection with or consequent to such inpatient care.
  • A period of incapacity of more than three (3) consecutive calendar days, that also involves:
  • Treatment two (2) or more times by a health care provider, by a nurse or physician's assistant under direct supervision of a health care provider, or by a provider of health care services (e.g. physical therapist) under orders of, or on referral by, a health care provider; or
  • Treatment by a health care provider on at least one occasion which results in a regimen of continuing treatment under the supervision of the health care provider. (e.g., prescription medication or therapy requiring special equipment)
  • Any period of incapacity due to pregnancy, or for prenatal care.
  • Chronic condition which:
    • requires periodic visits for treatment by a health care provider, or by a nurse or physician's assistant under direct supervision of a health care provider;
    • continues over an extended period of time, including recurring episodes of a single underlying condition; and
    • may cause episodic rather than a continuing period of incapacity (e.g., asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, etc.)
  • A period of incapacity which is permanent or long-term due to a condition for which treatment may not be effective. Must be under the continuing supervision of, but need not be receiving active treatment by, a health care provider. Examples: Alzheimer's, severe stroke, or terminal stages of a disease.
  • Any period of absence to receive multiple treatments (including recovery from) by a health care provider, either for restorative surgery after an accident or other injury, or for a condition that would likely result in a period of incapacity of more than three (3) consecutive calendar days in the absence of medical intervention or treatment, such as cancer (chemotherapy, radiation therapy, etc.), severe arthritis (physical therapy), and kidney disease (dialysis).
Q. Can I take time off intermittently to care for a seriously ill family member or due to my own serious illness?

Yes, use of FMLA time can be intermittent.

Q. Do I have to use my PTO or Sick and Vacation time before using FMLA time?

Employees use FMLA time concurrent with paid time or unpaid time.

Q. When does my FMLA begin?

FMLA begins with the first day of a qualified event and runs concurrently with paid and unpaid time. (except for AFSCME employees)

Q. Does a department have to hold the employee’s  job open while they are out on FMLA?

Yes.  The law states that the employee is guaranteed “the same, or an equivalent position for the duration of the FMLA, unless the appointment would have ended prior to the time the staff or faculty returns.  The regulations spelling out what constitutes “same or equivalent position” are quite stringent, and managers are advised to hold the position open. 

Q. Does the U-M contribute towards health insurance during an unpaid leave that is also covered by FMLA?

university contributions to medical, prescription, and dental benefits continue for any period of time covered by FMLA.  Once 12 weeks of FMLA are exhausted, the employee is responsible for the full cost of benefits (if in an unpaid status).

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Questions and Answers for Department Administrators

Q. What do I need to do to process Leave of Absence?

Refer to the Checklist section on this website.  Choose the appropriate checklist based on the type of leave and whether or not the employee is covered under a bargaining agreement (union member).

Q. Where can I find Leave of Absence forms?

The Forms section of this Website lists all the forms necessary to process a leave of absence.

Q. Who can I go to with questions about Leave of Absence process?

The Contacts page of this Website has phone numbers for many departments that can assist with Leave of Absence questions. 

Q. Do I need to contact the employee while on a Leave of Absence?

It is recommended that the supervisor stay in contact with the employee on an on-going basis.

Q. If a leave is put on the system retroactively, when are the employees charged for the benefits?
  • If the effective date of the leave is less than 90 days in the past, the employee is charged the premiums. 
  • If the effective date of a leave of absence is more than 90 days retroactive, benefit premiums will be charged to the department.  For leaves that are more than 90 days retroactive, the employee is responsible for premiums effective the first of the month following the date the leave of absence is processed.
Q. What if an employee needs an extension of a Leave of Absence?

Staff members may be eligible for extensions to Leaves of Absence according to the regulations provided under specific types of leaves. A staff member’s request for an extension must be submitted to the appropriate Human Resources Office at least two weeks before the initial leave expires.  A leave extension must be requested by the employee to their department who will submit the Leave of Absence extension request to the appropriate Human Resources Office for processing.

Q. How do I return an employee from a Leave of Absence?

Complete a Job Data Change Worksheet submittal form with the return to work date making sure to also include any appointment changes and submit to the appropriate Human Resources representative or HR Process Coordinator.

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