Policies and Procedures Manual Section 13
This unpaid professional development leave is designed to encourage professional growth and thereby increase an employee's contribution to the overall performance of Western Michigan University in meeting institutional objectives. The proposed professional growth activity for which the leave is requested must be of a nature that requires release from assigned position responsibilities.
- Exempt administrative personnel shall be eligible for professional development leaves.
- Completion of two (2) full-time years of service, or the equivalent, in an exempt position is required.
- An unpaid professional development leave is not an automatic benefit, and must have the approval of the appropriate vice president.
- An unpaid professional development leave application must include a written proposal describing in detail the activity proposed.
Unpaid professional development leave shall be granted for a maximum initial period of one year, with possible extension for a maximum of one additional year. Extension requests shall follow the same procedures as initial applications for leave.
An approved unpaid professional development leave of absence will not result in any loss of seniority, or benefits that are related to seniority, provided that the employee returns to work within the leave of absence provisions. Certain benefits can be retained while on leave of absence. Human Resources should be contacted for details. In general:
- Health insurance may be continued under the provisions of COBRA. See also health insurance and COBRA.
- Life insurance may be continued at the employee's expense, at group rates. See also life insurance.
- Long-term disability insurance may not be continued while off the payroll. See also long-term disability insurance.
Upon return, an exempt employee who was on approved unpaid professional development leave will be placed in the salary schedule at the same level that would have been attained had he/she been on duty at the University continuously.
- A person granted an unpaid professional development leave is normally expected to return to University service for a reasonable period of time, as determined by the appropriate vice president, following such a leave.
- Within thirty (30) days after returning from the professional development leave, the staff member will submit a concise written report of his/her leave activities to his/her supervisor and the appropriate vice president.
- The employee must first discuss the proposed professional development leave with his/her immediate supervisor.
- The employee, the immediate supervisor, and others directly affected shall jointly determine whether granting the leave would seriously impair the department's effectiveness.
- The employee must complete the appropriate sections of a leave of absence application (P-320) and attach any necessary supporting documents, including a written proposal describing in detail the activity proposed during the leave. The leave of absence application (P-320) is available at Forms: Leaves of Absence.
The employee may withdraw his/her application for professional development leave at any point in these procedures.
- The completed application and proposal are forwarded to the employee's department manager/head.
The department manager/head will act within thirty (30) days of receiving a leave of absence application to either approve, deny, or forward without recommendation applications for professional development leave. If approved or denied, the department manager/head will indicate such and sign the application.
- The application and proposal are then forwarded to the appropriate vice president.
- The leave application shall be submitted to the appropriate vice president at least six (6) months in advance of the beginning date of the proposed leave, to provide time to plan for adequate coverage during the staff member's absence. If such coverage cannot be satisfactorily arranged, the leave request will not be granted.
- If approved by the department manager/head, the application and proposal forwarded to the vice president must include a specific written explanation of how the work load of the employee will be met during the period of the leave.
- If denied by the department manager/head, the application and proposal forwarded to the vice president must include a written reason for denial (a copy shall also be provided to the applicant). The applicant may seek review and reconsideration of the denial through the appropriate vice president by filing a written request for review of the denied application. This request for review must contain the specific basis for the appeal with reference to the denial rationale of the department manager/head.
- In a case where a department manager/head has no recommendation or cannot reach a decision, the application and proposal forwarded to the vice president must include a written statement explaining the basis for the indecision (a copy shall also be provided to the applicant). The applicant may seek further review of the professional leave request by filing a written request for review with the appropriate vice president.
- Final action on the request for professional development leave shall be taken by the vice president under whose jurisdiction the employee falls.
- If the leave is approved by the vice president, Human Resources verifies that the employee meets eligibility requirements for the requested leave and places him/her on a professional development leave of absence without pay.
- The consent to release leave of absence information is an optional form and is available at Forms: Leaves of Absence. This form, when completed and returned to Human Resources, allows the Human Resources staff to release leave of absence information on the employee's behalf to specific, relevant parties (e.g., the employee's personal spokesperson, bargaining unit, etc.).