Policies & Contracts

515 - Medical Leave of Absence

515 - Medical Leave of Absence

Subject: Medical Leave of Absence

Section: U515

Date: January 15, 2013



To provide a means for departments to offer employees medical leave when they are unable to work due to a serious health condition and are not eligible for leave under Short Term Disability (STD) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or have exhausted STD and FMLA and need a bridge between Short Term and Long Term Disability (LTD).


Employees may apply for an unpaid medical leave for up to three (3) months; however, employees are only eligible for medical leave under this policy as follows:

  • They are ineligible for STD or FMLA (e.g., they have worked for the University for fewer than 6 continuous months or work less than 19.5 hours per week); or
  • They have exhausted STD or FMLA, have applied for LTD, and have not received an approval or denial from the LTD insurance carrier.

The decision whether to grant a medical leave is at the discretion of the University. Any leave or absences without an approved medical or other leave may be considered unexcused or unscheduled as provided under University and department policy and result in corrective action up to and including termination of employment.

  1. To request a leave, an employee must submit a completed Medical Leave Request Form to the employee's supervisor and the department/unit's Human Resource Administrator (HRA). When an employee has advance notice of the need for a leave, the employee must submit a completed Medical Leave Request Form to the employee's supervisor and the HRA thirty (30) days before the leave is requested to begin. If an employee cannot provide thirty (30) days notice, the employee must submit the completed request form as soon as feasible under the circumstances. After the employee's supervisor and HRA signs the request form, the employee must submit it to the Benefits Analyst - Leave Programs.
  2. An employee also must submit a fully completed health care provider's certification demonstrating the need for the leave directly to Leave Administration. The certification should be submitted at least thirty (30) days before the commencement of the medical leave or as soon as feasible. In the case of an emergency situation, the medical certification must be submitted within five (5) days of the start of the leave. Failure to provide a complete and timely medical certification may result in the denial of medical leave, absences deemed unexcused or unscheduled, and termination of employment.
  3. The decision whether to grant a medical leave is at the discretion of the University. Thus, among other things, the department'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. If an employee applies for LTD before the end of STD or other approved leave, the employee may apply for a medical leave so the employee can remain employed in an unpaid leave status pending a determination on the LTD application.
  5. Accrued sick leave, vacation, and personal holidays also must be used during any medical leave before the leave becomes unpaid. Employees do not accrue sick leave, vacation, and personal holidays during medical leave.
  6. During medical leave, the University will maintain benefits on the same conditions as if the employee is working subject to applicable plan documents and law. An employee must continue to pay the employee's portion of insurance benefit premiums if the employee wishes coverage to continue during the leave.
  7. Employees on a medical leave are expected to be reasonably responsive to and communicate with their supervisor and department during the leave.
  8. Before returning from medical leave, the employee must provide the employee's supervisor and HRA a health care provider's release to return to work indicating that he/she is able to perform the essential functions of the job with or without reasonable accommodation. The HRA will provide Leave Administration with the release to return to work. If an employee fails to provide a release to return to work as of the first scheduled workday after a medical or other approved leave, he/she will not be allowed to return to work and absences will be deemed unexcused or unscheduled, which may result in termination of employment.
  9. Approval of the leave request does not guarantee job reinstatement. Reinstatement after a leave is at the discretion of the department; however, the University may make an effort to reinstate the employee to the same or a comparable job if available.  If the employee is not reinstated, he or she may apply for vacant positions on the University's online employment site, UChicago Jobs.
  10. If an employee does not return to work when the medical leave ends and has not been approved for an additional leave of absence or other reasonable accommodation as required by law, employment will be terminated as of the last day of the approved leave of absence.

Employees represented by a bargaining unit may be governed by the appropriate bargaining unit agreement.