Leave without pay is defined as temporary non-pay status and absence from duty. Extended leave without pay must be approved by the supervisor, unit administrator, and senior administrator.
Leave without pay normally falls into one of the following categories:
- Voluntary: An employee requests time off without pay.
Initial requests for leave without pay may be approved for a maximum of six calendar months (staff) or one semester (Clerc Center teachers). Extensions may be granted; however, except in unusual circumstances, leave without pay should not exceed 12 calendar months (staff) or one academic year (Clerc Center teachers). Decisions regarding the approval of leave without pay and its duration take into consideration the reason for which the leave is being requested, applicable laws and regulations (e.g., the Family and Medical Leave Acts -- see below), the employee's work history, and impact on program operations and objectives. Leave without pay is not approved beyond the term of the appointment or in instances when an employee accepts employment elsewhere.
Unless otherwise prescribed by law, the granting of leave without pay does not preclude the University from realigning or reassigning its resources as necessary, and it is not a guarantee that conditions of employment will remain unchanged.
In most cases, requests for voluntary leave without pay should be approved only after appropriate paid leaves have been exhausted.
- Scheduled: An employee's appointment schedule includes a period of leave without pay.
Certain staff appointments may include a period of time off, e.g., appointments which follow the academic calendar. This period is taken as leave without pay.
- Involuntary: An employee exhausts all appropriate paid leaves and is unable to return to work.
An employee who exhausts all approved paid leave and cannot return to work may be placed on leave without pay status. The employee must provide acceptable documentation evidencing that he/she is not able to work. Leave is usually approved for a maximum of six calendar months (staff) or one semester (Clerc Center teachers). Extensions may be granted; however, except in unusual circumstances, leave without pay should not exceed 12 calendar months (staff) or one academic year (Clerc Center teachers). Leave without pay is not approved beyond the term of the appointment. Unless otherwise prescribed by law, the granting of leave without pay does not preclude the University from realigning or reassigning its resources as necessary, and it is not a guarantee that conditions of employment will remain unchanged. Supervisors may require regular documentation for involuntary leave without pay.
- Disciplinary: An employee's request for paid leave is not approved, or other instances occur that require the absence of the employee by administrative disciplinary directive.
A supervisor may place an employee on disciplinary leave without pay if leave taking is not approved or when the employee's absence is directed as a disciplinary action. Actions of disciplinary leave without pay must be approved by the unit administrator and by the Director of Human Resources or Director of Equal Opportunity Programs.
- Other: Any other instance which necessitates the use of leave without pay.
Any other instance which necessitates the use of leave without pay normally follows the guidelines defined in this policy.
An employee who fails to return to work immediately following the expiration of approved leave without pay and who has not obtained an approved extension or provided required documentation will be considered to have voluntarily terminated his/her employment.
Absence from duty without any type of leave approval constitutes an "unauthorized absence" and may be grounds for termination.
FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE ACTS (FMLA)
The District of Columbia and Federal Family and Medical Leave Acts provide eligible employees with job-protected, unpaid leave (although appropriate paid leaves are substituted and run concurrently with FMLA qualifying leave) for any of the following reasons:
- The birth of a child (but only during the first 12 months after the birth) in order to care for the son or daughter.
- The adoption of a child or placement of a foster child (but only during the first 12 months after the adoption or placement).
- The care of a family member with a serious health condition.
- A serious health condition of the employee which makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his/her job.
Employees who have been employed, at the time the leave commences, for at least 12 months and who have worked at least 1,000 hours during the previous 12 months are eligible for the provisions of the FMLA. The Federal FMLA allows 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a 12-month period; the DC law allows employees 16 weeks over a two-year period. Accordingly, an employee may be entitled to take 16 weeks one year under the DC Act and 12 weeks the next year under the Federal Act (but not vice versa). An employee is not eligible for 28 weeks in a single year. A year is defined as a calendar year.
Employees are required to request leave from their supervisor in advance if possible and to provide medical certification for a serious health condition when requested. Second or third opinions at the University's expense may be required. Leave may be denied if these requirements are not met.
Upon return to work from approved FMLA leave, employees are restored to the position held when the leave commenced or to an equivalent position. Employees who are absent on FMLA leave for more than 30 days are expected to provide a fitness-for-duty report. The Acts do not provide for the accrual or enhancement of seniority or employment benefits during the period of leave.