Leaves of Absence

 

Category: TIME AWAY FROM WORK
Issued: January 1, 1993
Revised: April 1, 2008
Responsible Office: Employment and HR Client Services (212) 851-7008

 

The University has established leave of absence policies for its employees to use as needed and when appropriate. Some policies are paid and include full benefits, others are unpaid; however, employees may choose to continue their benefits by paying their premiums directly to the University. A summary of each type of leave is detailed below.

Medical Leave of Absence (Full-Time Officers of Administration)

Full-time Officers of Administration shall be entitled to a paid medical leave for up to six months during any rolling 12-month period when extended absence is caused by illness or accident.

  • The officer must provide proof of illness or accident, (e.g., a physician’s note, New York State disability form DB-450) within one week of disability onset.
  • The officer must be under a doctor’s care consistent with the medical condition in order to be approved for a medical leave of absence.
  • Additionally, if not already submitted, the officer must complete the NY State Disability Form DB 450 (PDF) (for non-occupational illness) and, if applicable, the Department of Labor FMLA form WH-380 (PDF).
  • For non-occupational illness consistent with New York State disability guidelines, the disability form must be completed within 30 days of claiming disability.
  • The University, at any time during the leave of absence, may at its own expense require an examination by a University-designated physician and may place salary on hold pending such evaluation.
  • Officers taking leave for a serious health condition will be required to obtain medical clearance from their health care provider prior to returning to work. The University may require additional clearance by a University-designated physician.
  • While on medical leave the officer is expected to remain at his or her primary residence. Any plans to relocate or extended travel may result in ineligibility for a medical leave of absence.
  • If an officer is on vacation, paid medical leave cannot be declared unless the officer provides proof that he or she has been hospitalized on other than an outpatient basis and with the approval of the University.

Important Notes:

  • While on paid medical leave by Columbia University, officers who receive New York State Disability payments or Workers Compensation payments must immediately remit these payments to the University. Benefits under FMLA, if applicable, run concurrently while receiving paid medical leave.
  • Pregnancy-related disability is treated like any other non-occupational disability circumstance. The disability period commences on the date the employee's physician certifies on New York State Disability form DB-450/FMLA WH380/physicians’ note that the employee is unable to work for medical reasons due to pregnancy. The disability period ends on the date the officer's physician certifies that she is medically able to return to work. At the cessation of the disability period, the officer may request an unpaid parental care leave.
  • Only when returning to work from a paid medical leave of absence, prior to exhausting six months of paid medical leave, full-time officers will be returned to a comparable position. Officers who exhaust the six-month period allowed under the medical leave and who are unable to return to work should apply for Long-Term Disability. Officers must be back at work at least twelve months before being eligible for additional paid medical leave.
  • Employees injured on the job must complete an accident report as soon as possible after the accident and submit the form to their supervisor. The Department Accident Report (PDF) form can be found on the HR website in the Working at Columbia Guide.
  • There is no accrual of vacation, personal or holiday time while on such leave.

Medical Leave of Absence (Non-Union Support Staff)

The policy below describes paid medical leave for Non-Union Support Staff. Those employees covered by a Collective Bargaining Agreement shall follow the schedule as stipulated in their union contract.

Regular Non-Union Support Staff hired prior to October 21, 1994
Regular Non-Union Support Staff hired on or after October 21, 1994

For complete information on the University attendance policy, please refer to the section called Time and Attendance on the HR Manager Toolkit website.

Regular Non-Union Support Staff hired prior to October 21, 1994 will be paid sick leave in accordance with the following schedule:

 

 

Length of Service
(Non-Union Support Staff hired prior to October 21, 1994)

Number of Days Per Year

One day but less than 60 calendar days

None

60 calendar days but less than one full year

7

One year but less than three completed years

10

Three years but less than five completed years

15

Five years but less than ten completed years

20

Ten years but less than 15 completed years

25

Fifteen years or more

30

 

For related policy, please see Regular Non-Union Support Staff hired on or after October 21, 1994.

The above is modified as follows:

  • Effective October 1, 2001, employees shall be entitled to accumulate up to 60 working days of paid medical leave during any one year, including the days earned or to be earned in the current sick leave year.
  • Paid medical leave will be pro-rated for part-time Non-Union Support Staff by the number of days and hours they work per week.
  • Should the anniversary date occur while an employee is on a medical leave of absence, the employee will not be eligible for new paid medial leave allotment until he or she returns to work.
  • Accumulated paid medical leave is not paid upon termination.
  • The employee must provide proof of illness or accident (a physician’s note, New York State disability form DB-450) within one week of disability onset.
  • The employee must be under a doctor’s care consistent with the medical condition in order to be approved for a medical leave of absence.
  • Additionally, if not already submitted, the employee must complete the New York State Disability Form DB-450 (for non-occupational illness) and if applicable the Department of Labor FMLA form (WH-380).
  • For non-occupational illness consistent with New York State disability guidelines, the disability form must be completed within 30 days of claiming disability.
  • The University, at any time during the leave of absence, may at its own expense require an examination by a University-designated physician, and may place salary on hold pending such evaluation.
  • Employees taking leave for a serious health condition will be required to obtain medical clearance from their health care provider prior to returning to work. The University may require additional clearance by a University-designated physician.
  • While on medical leave the employee is expected to remain at the primary residence; any plans to relocate or extended travel may result in ineligibility for a medical leave of absence.
  • If an employee is on vacation, paid medical leave cannot be declared unless the employee provides proof that he or she has been hospitalized on other than an outpatient basis and with the approval of the University.

 

 

Non-Union Support Staff employees hired on or after October 21, 1994, will be paid medical leave as follows:

  • After 30 days of employment, employees shall be entitled to paid medical leave earned at the rate of one day for each month of employment, retroactive to date of hire, up to a maximum of 12 days per year.
  • After one or more years of employment, employees shall be entitled to a total of 12 additional days of paid medical leave as of the beginning of his or her second and each subsequent year of employment, provided that at no time will an employee be entitled to accumulate more than 60 working days of sick leave during any one year, including the days earned or to be earned in the current sick leave year.
  • Paid medical leave will be pro-rated for regular part-time employees by the number of days and hours they work per week.
  • Should the anniversary date occur while an employee is on a medical leave of absence, the employee will not be eligible for new paid medical leave allotment until he or she returns to work.
  • Accumulated paid medical leave is not paid upon termination.
  • The employee must be able to provide proof of illness or accident, (a physician’s note, New York State disability form DB-450) within one week of disability onset.
  • The employee must be under a doctor’s care consistent with the medical condition in order to be approved for a medical leave of absence.
  • Additionally, if not already submitted, the employee must complete the New York State Disability Form DB-450 (for non-occupational illness) and, if applicable, the Department of Labor FMLA form (WH-380)
  • For non-occupational illnesses consistent with New York State disability guidelines, the disability form must be completed within 30 days of claiming disability.
  • The University, at any time during the leave of absence, may at its own expense require an examination by a University-designated physician, and may place salary on hold pending such evaluation.
  • Employees taking leave for a serious health condition will be required to obtain medical clearance from their health care provider prior to returning to work. The University may require additional clearance by a University-designated physician.
  • While on medical leave the employee is expected to remain at the primary residence. Any plans to relocate or extended travel may result in ineligibility for a medical leave of absence.
  • If an employee is on vacation, paid medical leave cannot be declared unless the employee provides proof that he or she has been hospitalized on other than an outpatient basis and with the approval of the University.

All Non-Union Support Staff members may use accrued paid medical leave for their own medical or dental appointments or for appointments for family members, as defined below:

  • Employees must schedule the appointment with and communicate the time to their supervisor at least one week in advance (except in case of emergency treatment).
  • Paid medical leave must be taken in one hour increments.
  • The supervisor may require documentation of the appointment.
  • Approval for use of paid medical leave will not be unreasonably denied (under this section, use of sick leave may be denied if operational needs require the employee's presence or if the position must be covered on an overtime basis by another employee).
  • Employees who have been given a written warning or who have been suspended for excessive absenteeism or tardiness within the previous year may be denied the use of paid medical leave for medical or dental appointments.
  • All Non-Union Support Staff employees shall be entitled to use up to four days of paid medical leave each year for family illness (spouse, child or family member residing in the employee’s household).

Note: Pregnancy-related disability is treated like any other non-occupational disability circumstance. The disability period commences on the date the employee's physician certifies on New York State Disability form DB-450/FMLA WH380, that the employee is unable to work for medical reasons due to pregnancy. The disability period ends on the date the employee's physician certifies that she is medically able to return to work. At the cessation of the disability period, the employee may request an unpaid parental care leave.

Parental Care Leave

This leave is applicable to all full-time Officers of Administration, benefits-eligible part-time Officers of Administration and Non-Union Support Staff.

An unpaid parental care leave of up to six months is available to full-time Officers of Administration who have been employed by the University for three months or longer. This parental leave applies to both biological parents and the parents of a legally adopted child or foster child. Employees may use this benefit once within a 12-month rolling year. In cases where both parents work in the same department at Columbia University, any leave beyond the FMLA period will require approval by the departmental administrator to schedule the time appropriately.

An employee who intends to request a parental leave must give written notice to their department as far in advance as possible and must indicate an anticipated return to work date. If eligible for benefits under FMLA, this parental leave will run concurrently.

Employees who decide that they will not be returning to active employ ment must notify their department in writing at least four weeks prior to the scheduled return date. Notice of continuation of healthcare rights for coverage will be sent to employees who decide not to return.

As with other unpaid leaves, an employee is not entitled to holiday pay or to the accrual of vacation or sick day benefits while on an unpaid parental leave. Health and other insurance benefits coverage may continue during the unpaid leave by the employee directly paying premiums by contacting HR Benefits.

Upon return to active status, an employee who has been on a parental leave is to be reinstated in the same position or a comparable position.

Special Note: For those eligible for payment under a pregnancy-related disability, the parental leave begins after the medical disability period ends.

Personal Leave of Absence

This leave is applicable to all full-time Officers of Administration, benefits-eligible part-time Officers of Administration and Non-Union Support Staff.

A full-time employee who has completed twelve months of service maybe granted a leave of absence for personal reasons, without pay, not to exceed six months. These leaves are granted only in cases not covered by any other University policy for leaves of absence and require the approval of both the employee’s department head and the office of the Vice President for Human Resources.

Some typical reasons for granting such leaves include: illness in the family; education; or compelling personal needs. The University reserves the right to require written substantiation of the conditions prompting the need for such a leave of absence. Although not guaranteed, the department will make every effort to return an employee who has been granted a leave of absence for personal reasons to the same position upon completion of the leave, or a comparable position within the same department.

As with other unpaid leaves, an employee is not entitled to holiday pay or to the accrual of vacation or sick day benefits while on an unpaid personal leave. Health and other insurance benefits coverage may continue during the unpaid leave by the employee directly paying premiums by contacting HR Benefits.

FMLA

See The Family and Medical Leave Act for information.

Uniformed Service Leave of Absence

Columbia University supports its employees who serve in the United States military. We realize that employees who serve in the military may need time off from work for military service. Employees who participate in military service that meets the conditions outlined in the policy text are guaranteed reemployment in a position of equal pay, status and service credit at the end of military service.

Eligibility:

  • All regular full-time and part-time Columbia employees who serve in the Armed Forces
  • All regular full-time and part-time Columbia employees who serve in the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps
  • All regular full-time and part-time Columbia employees serving in any position designated by the President of the United States during a time of war or emergency

Employees requesting uniformed service leave must present a copy of the military orders to the appropriate department head at least two weeks prior to leave. This documentation should contain the reason for the leave and the expected duration.

The following table describes the types of Uniform Service leave the University recognizes and the policy details of each one:

Reason

Compensation

Reporting for service for 15 days or less in a calendar year

Full salary/full benefits

Reporting for service for up to six months in a calendar year

Salary equal to the difference between military and University pay/full benefits

Reporting for service for up to one calendar year

Unpaid leave after six month period/full benefits.

Reporting for service for more than one year but less than five years

Unpaid leave after six months/partial benefits

Important Note about Compensation:

Employees must provide documentation regarding the amount of military pay as soon as possible in order to receive the University pay differential.

* Failure to provide such documentation in a timely manner may result in a delay of the University pay differential.

* An employee is eligible for pay differential if the military salary is less than the University salary. In these cases, the University will pay the salary difference not to exceed the University salary at the time of deployment.

Employees participating in military service must report back to work according to the following timetable:

Length of Service

Return to Work Date

Less than 31 days

The next business day after returning home

More than 31 days
but less than 180 days

Within 14 days of returning home

More than 180 days

Within 90 days of returning home

When recovering from a war injury

Immediately after injury recovery period of two years (more in some cases) or less

Employees who have been reinstated after a period of active service are protected from termination of employment, except for cause or changed business circumstances (including, but not limited to, job elimination, lack of funding, reorganization etc.), according to the following table:

Length of Service

Period of Protection from Termination

Less than 31 days of service

No protection period

31 to 180 days of service

Six-month protection period

More than 180 days of service

One-year protection period

  • Employees will return from leave in a position of equal pay, academic status or salary grade and service credit at the end of military service.
  • If an employee becomes disabled during active service and cannot resume his or her prior job, the employee will be offered reemployment in a position of equal pay, status and service credit grade for which the employee is qualified with reasonable accommodations.
  • The University maintains a cumulative limit of five years for employees participating in uniformed service subject to limited exceptions. (For example, periods of active service during a war, a declared national emergency or in support of a critical mission do not count towards the five-year limit.)
  • All time spent during uniformed service will count toward the employee’s calculation of compensation, benefits, retirement eligibility and length of employment for the University.
  • Departments should consult their HR Client Manager/HR Manager for guidance on processing transactions related to this leave or employment decisions subsequent to such leaves.
  • Any questions about Uniformed Services Leave and its application should be directed to Columbia University Human Resources before any discussions with the employee.

Leaves of Absence (Support Staff in Collective Bargaining Units)

Support staff covered by a collective bargaining agreement shall follow the leaves of absence options as stipulated in their union contract.

Collective bargaining agreements may be found here.

Last Updated: 
Monday, January 19, 2015 - 11:32pm