Leave Plans

Employee Handbook Section 11

Annual leave

Annual leave allows eligible Western Michigan University employees to take vacations and conduct personal business without losing pay. It may be used in blocks of hours or days, and you must obtain your supervisor's approval before using annual leave. Benefits-eligible employees receive annual leave in a lump sum allotment each July 1 according to the following schedules and provisions. Prior to this, on June 30, employee balances are zeroed out, save carryover hours of up to 24 maximum.

Annual leave lump sum allotments per fiscal year (based on 1.0 FTE)

  • Non-exempt (hourly paid) non-bargaining employees
    • Upon hire: 96 hours
    • After one year (12 months) of service: 120 hours
    • After five years (60 months) of service: 144 hours
    • After eight years (96 months) of service: 160 hours
    • After 10 years (120 months) of service: 176 hours
    • After 15 years (180 months) of service: 192 hours
    • After 20 years (240 months) of service: 200 hours
    Note: Lump sum allotments of annual leave are prorated based upon FTE. For example, the full fiscal year amount for a newly hired non-exempt employee at .75 FTE is 72 annual leave hours (96 x .75 = 72).
  • Exempt (salaried) non-bargaining employees
    • Upon hire: 160 hours
    • After five years (60 months) of service: 176 hours
    • After 10 years (120 months) of service: 192 hours
    • After 20 years (240 months) of service: 200 hours
    Note: Lump sum allotments of annual leave are prorated based upon FTE. For example, the full fiscal year amount for a newly hired exempt employee at .75 FTE is 120 annual leave hours (160 x .75 = 120).

Annual leave provisions:

  • On the payroll. An employee must be on the payroll on July 1 to receive the lump sum allotment of annual leave. An employee on unpaid leave on July 1 receives a prorated lump sum allotment upon return to the payroll, if applicable. Proration is based on portion of the year remaining.
  • Proration. For fiscal year appointment periods, proration of the annual leave lump sum allotment is on a fiscal year basis as of the effective date of the event, taking into account existing annual leave balance and annual leave hours used, if applicable. Proration for less than fiscal year appointment periods is proportional.
  • New hires. A new hire midyear receives a prorated lump sum allotment of annual leave based on the portion of the year remaining as of the date of hire.
  • Service anniversary milestones. Credit for service anniversary milestones within a fiscal year are included in the lump sum allotment of annual leave for that fiscal year.
  • FTE changes and job transfers. Changes in FTE result in a proportionate increase or reduction, as applicable, to the lump sum allotment of annual leave on a prorated basis as of the effective date of change. Portion of the year remaining, existing annual leave balance and annual leave hours used to date are taken into account. Similarly, an employee who transfers between benefits-eligible jobs receives an adjustment to the lump sum allotment of annual leave in the event different lump sum allotment schedules apply. Proration is based on portion of the year remaining, existing annual leave balance and annual leave hours used to date.
  • Usage. Usage of annual leave counts first against carryover hours, if any, and then against the lump sum allotment.
  • Emergency usage. Employees may be granted annual leave pay without the normal prior supervisory approval, provided the supervisor agrees that the absence was due to a bona fide emergency.
  • Separation and retirement. Upon discharge, termination, resignation or retirement, unused carryover hours of annual leave, if any, are paid off in full as a contribution by the University to a 403(b) special pay plan account established on the employee’s behalf, to the extent allowable by plan provisions. In these events, the maximum number of lump sum allotment annual leave hours available for payoff, as a contribution to the 403(b) special pay plan as allowable, is based on the portion of the year completed on the date of separation or retirement less hours used (see Leave Plans, Employee Handbook Section 11). In no case shall the total number of annual leave hours paid off between the two sources combined exceed 240. Management reserves the right to schedule the employee to use annual leave prior to the effective date of separation or retirement, depending on operational needs and departmental budget restrictions. See Retirement Programs, Employee Handbook Section 14.
  • Rehire. Prior service credit may be given to employees who have separated from University employment and are later rehired. Those prior years of service are included to determine the employee's total "years of service" on the annual leave lump sum allotment schedule. The employee's lump sum allotment of annual leave will be determined by the schedule in effect at date of rehire.
  • Death. In the event of employee death, unused annual leave, if any, is paid to the stated beneficiary if living, or otherwise to the estate, in accordance with the annual leave payoff provisions for separation and retirement (see above).

Sick leave (paid)

Paid sick leave allows you to take time off from work due to illness without losing pay. The sick leave accrual rate for benefits-eligible employees is four hours per pay period, based on 1.0 FTE or 80 hours per pay period, up to a maximum accrual of 104 hours per year.

Sick leave provisions:

  • Prorated accruals. Sick leave accruals are prorated based on straight-time hours paid for non-exempt (hourly paid) employees and FTE for exempt (salaried) employees.
  • Approved uses.
    1. You may use sick leave for illness and doctor or dentist appointments for you or for an immediate family member, provided that family member lives in your household. "Immediate family member" is defined as the:
    • Employee's current spouse
    • Employee's or employee's current spouse's:
      • Children (including foster children and children under legal guardianship)
      • Grandchildren
      • Parents (including stepmothers and stepfathers)
      • Grandparents
      • Siblings (including stepsisters and stepbrothers)
  • You may use up to five days of your accrued sick leave per calendar year to care for immediate family members, as defined above, not residing in your household. The five days is based on 80 hours paid per pay period and will be prorated for employees working fewer than 80 hours per pay period.
  • You may use sick leave for up to 35 days in a rolling year for the following FMLA qualifying events, in addition to the FMLA leave entitlement of up to 12 work weeks of unpaid leave:
    • For the birth of a son or daughter and the care of such newborn child.
    • For the placement of a child for adoption or foster care.
  • Reporting absences. See Work Schedules, Employee Handbook Section 7
  • Documentation. The University reserves the right to request a physician's statement, or placement paperwork in the case of adoption or foster care, certifying any absence for which sick leave pay is requested. The physician's statement must include date and time the employee/family member was examined and length of time it is expected that the employee/family member will be unable to work.
  • Maximum accrual. Employees can accrue up to 260 days (2,080 hours) of paid sick leave.
  • Overtime. Sick leave does not accrue on overtime hours worked. Sick leave accrues only on straight-time (non-overtime) hours worked.
  • Exceeding accrual balance prohibited. Sick leave usage can, at no time, exceed an employee's accrual balance. Employees who have used all their accrued sick leave during an absence should contact Human Resources regarding other leave options.
  • Return from extended sick leave. Upon return from an extended sick leave (a leave lasting one full pay period or longer), the employee must present to his/her supervisor a physician's release to return to work. Under no circumstances is an employee allowed to return to work without providing this statement.
  • Physical exam. The University reserves the right to require that an employee have a physical examination at the University's Sindecuse Health Center upon return from an illness which may have affected the individual's ability to perform job duties. In such cases, the employee's supervisor is to contact Human Resources to schedule the physical examination.
  • Resignation or termination. There is no payoff of unused accrued sick leave upon resignation or termination. Any such remaining sick leave balance is forfeited.
  • Death. The University provides term life insurance in lieu of sick leave payoff should an employee die while in active payroll or approved leave status, or if the employee has been paying total group premium while on non-pay status. See Insurance Plans, Employee Handbook Section 12.
  • Retirement. Employees with a date of hire prior to Sept. 1, 2010, who qualify as a WMU retiree are eligible upon retirement for a lump-sum payment of 100 percent of unused accrued sick leave, up to a maximum of 1,040 hours, at the employee's final rate of pay. This payment is made as a contribution by the University to a 403(b) special pay plan account established on the employee’s behalf, to the extent allowable by plan provisions. Employees with a date of hire on or after Sept. 1, 2010, are not eligible for sick leave payoff. See Retirement Programs, Employee Handbook Section 14.
  • Rehire. The University does not restore any unused/unpaid sick leave hours to employees who separate from University employment and are later rehired.

Family and medical leave of absence

The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 provides opportunities for employees to take an unpaid leave of absence from work under certain conditions. Employees facing a situation where a family medical leave may be applicable are urged to contact Human Resources. A Human Resources representative will be happy to speak with you to explain how family medical leave may affect your situation; all such conversations are confidential.

A family and medical leave of absence is an unpaid leave of absence. However, employees may elect (but are not required) to use any portion of their accrued paid annual leave or sick leave, as appropriate, during the family and medical leave of absence; any remaining weeks will be unpaid.

When both spouses are employed by the University, they are limited to a combined total of 12 weeks of family and medical leave during any rolling 12-month period for the birth/care of their child or placement of a child for adoption or foster care.

An employee wishing to apply for a family and medical leave, or the employee's supervisor, should contact Human Resources to be advised of appropriate procedures.

When an employee is granted an approved family and medical leave and returns to work within leave provisions, the University will continue to pay its portion of the group health coverage charges during the leave. Employees will be billed for their share of any dependent's health coverage charges. Employees not returning to work for 30 calendar days from an approved family and medical leave are required to reimburse the University for health benefits paid during the leave, unless the employee fails to return because of continued illness or other circumstances beyond the employee's control. Life insurance may be continued at the employee's expense during any unpaid portion of the leave. The employee will be restored to the same job or an equivalent position upon return to work at the expiration of the leave.

For details, see Leaves and Absences from Work: Family and Medical Leave of Absence, Policies and Procedures Manual Section 13.

Sick leave (unpaid)

Employees who have completed their first 120 days of employment may request an unpaid leave of absence for their own illness. Any sick leave of absence request must have a supporting doctor's statement attached. This must include the date you became unable to work and the expected date of return, if known. Leave for illness will not be approved for more than 12 months from the last day an employee was paid.

Employees should contact Human Resources regarding continuation of benefits during an unpaid sick leave and to obtain a leave application. An unpaid sick leave must be approved by the appropriate vice president.

An employee granted an unpaid sick leave of absence is not guaranteed a job at the end of the leave. However, Human Resources will make every effort possible to help the employee find a job comparable to the one held prior to the leave. Two weeks before a leave of absence expires, the employee must contact Human Resources. Employees who do obtain a position with WMU at the end of an unpaid sick leave will retain their seniority and benefits related to seniority. If the employee cannot find a new job within 90 days after the leave expires, he/she may continue to seek a University position as an external applicant.

For details, see Leaves and Absences from Work: Sick Leave of Absence (Unpaid), Policies and Procedures Manual Section 13.

Personal leave of absence (unpaid)

Regular employees who have completed two consecutive years of employment may request unpaid leave for personal reasons. This leave cannot be granted for less than one month or more than one year. Employees should contact Human Resources regarding continuation of benefits during an unpaid personal leave and to obtain a leave application. A personal leave must be approved by the appropriate vice president.

An employee granted an unpaid personal leave of absence is not guaranteed a job at the end of the leave. However, Human Resources will make every effort possible to help the employee find a job comparable to the one held prior to the leave. The employee must contact Human Resources two weeks before a leave of absence expires. Employees who do obtain a position with WMU at the end of personal leave will retain their seniority and benefits related to seniority. If the employee cannot find a new job within 90 days after the leave expires, he/she may continue to seek a University position as an external applicant.

For details, see Leaves and Absences from Work: Personal Leave of Absence (Unpaid), Policies and Procedures Manual Section 13.

Professional development leave (paid)

Paid professional development leave allows exempt staff members to improve their performance by providing time for research or other developmental activities. The employee must have completed four years of service in the current position in order to apply. This leave may last no more than three months. One full year of service is required after the leave is over. A paid professional development leave must be approved by the appropriate vice president. Contact Human Resources for details on insurance coverage during a paid professional leave and for leave applications.

For details, see Leaves of Absence from Work: Professional Development Leave (Paid), Policies and Procedures Manual Section 13.

Professional development leave (unpaid)

Unpaid professional development leave is designed to encourage professional growth that will help employees make greater contributions in their jobs. Exempt employees who have completed two years of full-time (or equivalent) service may apply. This leave may be granted for up to one year. An extension of one additional year is possible upon request. Employees are expected to return for a reasonable amount of time after the leave ends.

Employees should contact Human Resources regarding continuation of benefits during an unpaid professional leave and to obtain a leave application. A professional leave must be approved by the appropriate vice president.

Employees returning to work from an approved unpaid professional leave of absence will be placed in the pay structure at the same level that would have been attained had they been on duty at the University continuously.

For details, see Leaves of Absence from Work: Professional Development Leave (Unpaid), Policies and Procedures Manual Section 13.

University convenience leave

University convenience leave is a special leave of absence, designed to avoid laying off employees at those times when their services are temporarily not needed. This leave is voluntary and must be mutually agreed to by the employee and WMU. A common arrangement is to take leave during the summer break between academic years. A University convenience leave must be approved by the appropriate vice president. Leave applications may be obtained from Human Resources.

During University convenience leave, Western continues to pay the employer portion of group insurances. WMU also continues all other benefits that are not payroll-driven (e.g., tuition discount).

For details, see Leaves and Absences from Work: University Convenience Leave of Absence, Policies and Procedures Manual Section 13.

Jury duty and court-required service

Please see Leaves and Absences from Work: Jury Duty and Court Required Service, Policies and Procedures Manual Section 13.

Bereavement leave

Up to five days of paid bereavement leave is available to regular employees (including probationary employees) upon the death of an immediate family member.

Immediate family member is defined as the:

  • Employee's current spouse
  • Employee's or employee's current spouse's:
    • Children (including foster children and children under legal guardianship)
    • Grandchildren
    • Parents (including stepmothers and stepfathers)
    • Grandparents
    • Siblings (including stepsisters and stepbrothers)

Military leave

An unpaid leave of absence is available to regular employees for service in the United States Armed Services, whether the performance of duty is voluntary or involuntary. Upon termination of a military leave, an employee is entitled to reinstatement privileges, provided the employee meets reinstatement requirements. Questions should be directed to Human Resources.

For details, see Leaves and Absences from Work: Military Leave, Polices and Procedures Manual Section 13.

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