Leaves of Absence Procedures/Guidelines
These procedures and guidelines apply to eligible staff and management employees, both represented and non-represented. They also apply to eligible faculty (Unit 3) employees requesting leave due to the faculty member's own illness/injury, or to care for a family member with a disabling illness/injury, or to care for a child following birth or placement with the faculty member for adoption or foster care. Other faculty leaves should be requested through Faculty Affairs.*
These procedures are intended to confirm current practice. State and federal laws, CSU policy, and applicable collective bargaining agreements shall take precedence should any inconsistency arise. The President may deviate from this guideline when not in conflict with applicable law or contractual obligations.
Some leaves of absence may be an entitlement for an eligible employee and/or be mandated by federal and state laws, collective bargaining agreements, and CSU policy. The processing and response timeframes of these leaves may also be mandated. Due to the complexity surrounding leaves, managers, supervisors, department chairs, and employees are encouraged to contact the HR Leave Coordinator with any leave related questions.
For purposes of this procedure, a leave of absence form needs to be completed to request approval for any absence (paid or unpaid) of more than 15 working days (including intermittent leaves that total more than 15 working days), unless the absence is due to the following:
- Vacation requests that are not for Family Medical Leave (FML) purposes;
- Faculty personal leaves without pay that are not for FML purposes;
- Faculty Professional Leave, Difference-In-Pay (DIP) Leave, and Sabbatical Leave.
A leave of absence form does not need to be completed if the leave (paid or unpaid) is for 15 working days or less. However, a Family Medical Leave (FML) Authorization and Notification Form may be required for absences of more then three (3) or five (5) workdays in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement, when the absence is due to the employee's own serious health condition and/or to provide care for a seriously ill/injured family member in accordance with Family Medical Leave.
An informal leave is an authorized absence, with or without pay, of 15 working days or less. An informal leave is to be documented in Absence Management through normal department/attendance accounting procedures and not on the Leave of Absence Request.
It is the responsibility of every employee absent from work, under the conditions described herein, to comply with this procedure. Failure to comply with the procedure may result in an employee's absence being treated as Absent Without Official Leave (AWOL), which may lead to automatic termination, corrective action, and/or disciplinary action.
For represented employees, the respective collective bargaining agreement may supersede some provisions of this procedure.
A. Types of Leave
Represented employees should refer to the applicable collective bargaining agreement for eligibility criteria and information regarding the various types of leaves, with or without pay, and consult with the Leave Coordinator. Following is a list of some of the more commonly requested leaves. The listing is not intended to be comprehensive.
- Family Medical Leave (includes Family Medical Leave Act-FMLA and California Family Rights Act--CFRA)
- Temporary Incapacity/Medical Leave for the Employee
(includes Pregnancy Disability Leave)
- Maternity/Paternity/Adoption (Parental) Leave
- Military Leave
- Funeral/Bereavement Leave
- Jury Duty Leave
- Organ Donor Leave
B. Length of Leave
Each leave of absence must be for a definite period with specific starting and ending dates.
C. Full, Partial, and Intermittent Leaves
A leave of absence may be full or partial (reduced work schedule), depending on medical necessity, leave entitlement, the requestor's circumstances, and operational needs of the University. A partial or intermittent leave of absence may consist of a temporary reduction in the usual number of hours per workweek, or hours per workday, of an employee, or an episodic rather than continuing period of leave that may be intermittent as well as ongoing.
For partial leaves, a leave request form is required if the anticipated duration of the reduced schedule requested exceeds 15 working days, regardless of whether leave credits are to be utilized or not.
Note: For Family Medical Leaves, there is a special exception to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) rules. FLSA allows for partial day docks or use of leave credits for FML-covered absences. In order to standardize CSU attendance reporting procedures, partial day absences while on FML are to be charged against an exempt employee's accrued leave credits. There is no change in CSU attendance policy for exempt employees not on FML.
For intermittent leaves, typically approved only in cases of medical necessity for the employee or for family care leave, a leave request form is required when the absence has or will occur on more than fifteen workdays.
When an employee realizes the need to take a leave of absence, he/she should speak with his/her manager/department chair about the need for the leave. Thirty days advance notice is required for planned leaves.
- The manager/department chair refers the employee to the Leaves Coordinator for leave counseling (eligibility, leave options, procedures, etc.) and to obtain eligibility information and instructions.
- The employee obtains a medical off work order/Healcare Provider Certification Form from his/her physician and submits the original to the Leave Coordinator. Upon request, a review is completed to determine if the medical certification is complete and if a leave entitlement exists. If the employee is eligible for a leave, the Leave Coordinator prepares the required documentation, meets with the employee to review the documents. The employee signs the documents and is reponsible for taking the documents to their direct manager/department chair for signature. Employees are responsible for submitting the forms for planned leaves at least thirty days prior to the start of the leave, emergency medical leaves/situations being the exception.
For medical and family care leaves, an original Healthcare Provider Certification Form must be submitted to the Leave Coordinator. Because of concerns over employees' right to privacy, this document is considered highly confidential and is not filed in the Personnel File. The original is retained in the employee's confidential leave file. Department managers/department chairs are advised to forward any medical certifications to the Leave Coordinator and are not to keep copies of medical certifications in their deparments.
- If the manager/department chair has any questions or concerns about the leave, he/she should contact the Leaves Coordinator. The manager/department chair should refer tro the appropriate collective bargaining agreement for response timeframes to an employee's leave request. In all cases, the routing of leave forms should be given high priority and be processed in an expedient manner.
The manager/department chair's response to the leave:
- If the Leaves Administrator indicates the leave is mandated and/or an employee entitlement, the manager/department chair signs the form to confirm knowledge of the leave, and forwards the form through the appropriate line organization, and then to the Leave Coordinator for final review and processing. Any questions regarding employee eligibility, or questions about leave entitlements should be directed to the Leave Coordinator.
- If the manager/department chair recommends approval for a non-mandated leave, he/she signs the form indicating approval at the departmental level. The manager/department chair forwards the leave request through the respective management line, and then to the Leave Coordinator for final review and processing. Note: Before recommending approval or denial of a leave request, the manager/department chair considers the department's operational needs, the staff member's needs, and reviews the applicable collective bargaining agreement for leave eligibility.
- If the manager/department chair is denying a non-mandated leave, he/she documents the decision on the Leave of Absence Application (LOA) Form, and returns the form to the employee. The manager/department chair forwards a copy of the form to the Leave Coordinator.
If the Leave Coordinator confirms approval of the leave, the package is completed, processed, and distributed.
If the Leave Coordinator determines that the leave does not qualify for approval, the package is returned to the manager/department chair. The manager/department chair then follows the procedure for notifying the employee of the denial as indicated above. The manager/department chair then notifies any other management line employees who reviewed the leave.
- When an employee is 'disabled from work' by their doctor, he/she is not to perform University work at home and is not to return to campus to work. However, when appropriate, the department may contact the employee and ask for information that is needed such as a computer password or the location of a document or a key, etc.
- The manager/department chair is responsible for tracking the employee's leave and return date. The manager/department chair should call the employee the week before the expected return to verify the employee's return date. If a change in return date is anticipated, the manager/department chair should notify the Leave Coordinator and advise the employee of the proper procedure for extending the leave (below).
An employee who requests to extend his/her leave must submit an original medical note/Healthcare Provider Certification Form to the Leave Coordinator prior to the end of the original leave. The same procedure is followed as outlined above to extend the leave. For medical or family care leaves, the extension requires a certification from the employee's or family member's health care provider.
It is the employee's responsibility to notify the manager/department chair of all medical leave extensions.
The employee must provide the Leave Coordinator with an original written medical release from his/her health care provider prior to returning to work. The medical release needs to address any work restrictions, even if there are none. Faxes directly from the doctor's office to the Leave Coordinator, with cover sheets and/or fax machine stamps from the doctor's office, will be accepted in lieu of an original document..
- If the medical release states that the employee is fully capable of returning to his/her regular job without restrictions, then the employee reports to his/her regular job on the return date. The Leave Coordinator notifies the manager/department chair that the employee is cleared to return to full duty.
- If the medical release indicates that the employee is not fully capable of returning to his/her regular job without restrictions, the Leave Coordinator consults with the manager/department chair prior to authorizing the employee's return. Please refer to the procedure below regarding written restrictions.
- Returning to work before the end of a leave for an employee's own illness or injury: An employee who wishes to return to work on an earlier date than is specified on the original LOA form, must obtain a health care provider's certification releasing the employee to return. The employee notifies the Leave Coordinator with a minimum notice of three (3) working days prior to the return date. The Leave Coordinator prepares a new LOA form to document the new return date, following the procedure outlined above. If the health care provider's certification includes restrictions please refer to the procedure below.
- Returning to work before the end of a family medical leave: The employee contacts the Leave Coordinator and a new LOA form is prepared to document the new return date, following the procedure outlined above.
- It is the employee's responsibility to notify the manager/department chair of the early return to work date with a minimum notice of three (3) working days prior to the return date.
- An employee who is released to return to work, but has written restrictions from his/her health care provider, must submit the release to the Leave Coordinator for evaluation, prior to the employee's return.
- Due to the complexity of State and Federal laws involving leaves of absence and disabilities, the Leave Coordinator works with the manager/department chair to determine the appropriate response to the employee's request..
- The Leave coordinator and the department manager/department chair compare restrictions to the employee's current job description. In some instances, the Diversity & Compliance Officer may review the restrictions in compliance with the 'Americans with Disabilities Act' and addresses the need to have discssions with employees about reasonable accommodations for employees with qualified disabilities. The Diversity Office and Leave Coordinator discuss the restrictions with the manager/department chair to determine if an accommodation can be made.
- In the event a reasonable accommodation can be made, the manager/department chair (with advisement from Diversity and the Leave Coordinator) and the employee discuss the reasonable accommodation and the details of the return. Diversity and the Leave Coordinator will advise of the appropriate procedure to document the employee's return to work.
The manager/department chair tracks the date the restriction ends. The employee is required to obtain an updated health care provider's certification prior to the end date. The original certification is submitted to the Leave Coordinator for evaluation. If the restriction extends beyond what the manager/department chair can reasonably accommodate, Diversity, Leave Coordinator and the manager/department chair discuss the status.
- Although the manager/department chair has the primary responsibility for tracking restriction end dates, the Leave Coordinator may contact the employee to request the employee's new health care provider's certification, as necessary.
- In the event an accommodation cannot be made, the employee is notified in writing. If appropriate, the employee files for a leave extension.
Returning to work with permanent restrictions:
- An employee who is released to return to work, but has written permanent restrictions from his/her health care provider, must submit the release to the Leave Coordinator for evaluation, prior to the employee's return. Before approving or denying a request, the Leave Coordinator must work withe the manager/department chair to determine the appropriate response to the employee's request..
- The Leave Coordinator, Diversity & Compliance Officer and the manager/department chair compare restrictions to the employee's current job description and will discuss the restrictions and determine if an accommodation can be made. The 'Americans with Disabilities Act' addresses the need to have discussions with employees about reasonable accommodations for employees with qualified disabilities.
- In the event a reasonable accommodation can be made, the manager/department chair (with advisement from as indicated above) and the employee discuss the reasonable accommodation and the details of the return. The manager/department chair will be advised of the appropriate procedure to document the employee's return to work.
- In the event an accommodation cannot be made, the employee is notified and a review occurs to determine possible options.
- Check with the Leave Coordinator extension 5097, regarding any additional leave paperwork to document the return-to-work.
- Parking fees paid via payroll deduction may be reimbursed for the period an employee was on leave. Payroll Services will make the request to the Cashier's Office on the employee's behalf after he/she returns to work.
- To determine when health benefits will be reinstated following an unpaid leave (if coverage is not maintained through Family Medical Leave), contact the Benefits Office of Human Resources, extension 3734 or 3735.
- Contact the Benefits Office of Human Resources should any changes have occurred during a leave that would affect benefit enrollments. Under certain circumstances, plan changes may be initiated immediately upon return from a leave of absence without pay following an open enrollment period.
- If necessary, please update payroll deductions, tax withholdings, mailing address, and emergency contact information upon returning from leave.
- If direct deposit was cancelled during the leave, and reinstatement of direct deposit is desired, contact Payroll. See the Direct Deposit information on the Payroll Services website.