Policies & Contracts

508 - Personal Leave of Absence

Subject: Personal Leave of Absence

Section: U508

Date: December, 2017


To provide a means for the University of Chicago to offer employees an approved leave without pay when circumstances (such as education, research, or family needs) necessitate.

Who is governed by this policy:

This policy applies to all regular staff employees.


After one year of continuous active employment with the University regular employees may apply for an unpaid Personal Leave of Absence for one to twelve consecutive months. The decision whether to grant a personal leave of absence is at the discretion of Leave Administration.

Administration of a Personal Leave of Absence

1. An employee must submit a Leave Request form to the employee’s supervisor and the department’s Human Resource Partner (HRP). The form must specify the reason for the request and its expected duration, and must be submitted at least three months in advance unless an emergency situation arises. The HRP should submit the completed form and supporting documentation to Leave Administration at leaveadministration@uchicago.edu. Leave Administration will review the request and will provide final approval based on consultation with the appropriate individuals.

2. Approval of the leave request does not guarantee job reinstatement and indeed the employee's position may be filled, modified or eliminated during Personal Leave of Absence. If the employee is not reinstated, he or she may apply for vacant positions. (See Policy U202 Talent Acquisition.)

3. In deciding whether to grant a Personal Leave of Absence request, the department’s and the University's operational and staffing needs, the availability of replacements, the reason for the employee’s request, and the employee's job performance and attendance should be considered.

4. Vacation and personal holiday accrual will be paid in a lump sum as soon as practical after the commencement of the Personal Leave of Absence.

5. During a Personal Leave of Absence, employees are expected to be reasonably responsive and communicative with their supervisor and department.

6. Reinstatement after a leave is at the discretion of the department.

7. Prior to reinstatement, an employee may be subject to a reference or background check based upon the department's policies and procedures or another legitimate reason. (See Policy U204 Reference and Background Checks.)

8. If the employee is reinstated, the employee's service will be bridged to the original hire date.

9. An employee on an approved personal leave of less than 12 consecutive months may request an extension of the leave for up to a total of 12 consecutive months by submitting a completed Leave Request form detailing the reason for the extension request.

10. If an employee is not reinstated or does not return to work when the Personal Leave of Absence ends, and has not been approved for other reasonable accommodation as required by law, employment will be terminated as of the last day of the approved leave of absence. A Personal Leave of Absence should not be used as an alternative to a resignation or other termination of employment.

11. Some University departments may reduce or suspend operations at the end of an academic term or year. Employees in these departments may be placed on a Personal Leave of Absence during the period of reduced or suspended operations. Affected employees may use their vacation and personal holiday accrual balances until they have been exhausted.  Individuals in this situation may elect to continue medical, vision and dental insurance as follows: the first three months will be at the employee’s current rate, and the remaining 15 months will be at the full COBRA rate.

Benefits While on a Personal Leave of Absence

1. An employee on a Personal Leave of Absence may elect to continue medical and dental insurance at COBRA rates for up to 18 months.

2. Life and personal accident insurances may be maintained at the employee's option.

3. During an approved Personal Leave of Absence, an employee participating in the Retirement Income Plan for Employees (ERIP) will not continue to contribute, but the previously credited income will not be affected.

4. Employees cannot participate in a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), Health Savings Account (HSA), or the University's Educational Assistance Plan while on a Personal Leave of Absence.

5. Paid time-off accruals cease while on a Personal Leave of Absence; accrued sick leave remains intact.

roles and responsibilities:

Governed Party Roles and Responsibilities
Employee The Employee is responsible for requesting the Personal Leave of Absence using the required form, and maintaining communication with the unit and Leave Administration, including providing additional information, as necessary. 
HR Partner The HRP is responsible for submitting any received requests for a Personal Leave of Absence, and other relevant information, to Leave Administration and working with the unit to determine whether reinstatement is possible when the employee’s leave will be ending. 
Leave Administration Leave Administration is responsible for determining whether a Personal Leave of Absence is approved and monitoring the Leave through communication with the employee and the unit representatives, such as the HRP and Supervisor.  

Related Information:

Policy U202 Talent Acquisition

Policy U204 Reference and Background Checks

Policy U509 Vacation

Policy U511 Personal Holidays

Leave Request Form

Key Contacts:

Name Email Extension
Center of Expertise – Benefits: Leave Administration leaveadministration@uchicago.edu