Policies & Contracts

515 - Medical Leave of Absence

Subject: Medical Leave of Absence

Section: U515

Date: December, 2017



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 STD and Long Term Disability (LTD).

Who is governed by this policy:

This policy applies to all regular staff employees.


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 a determination 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 may result in corrective action up to, and including, termination of employment. (See Policy 502 Attendance (Absenteeism, Tardiness and Job Abandonment).)

To request a leave, an employee must submit a completed Leave Request Form to the employee's supervisor and the unit’s Human Resources Professional (HRP). When an employee has advance notice of the need for a leave, the employee must submit a completed Leave Request Form to the employee's supervisor and the HRP for their signatures. After the employee's supervisor and HRP sign the request form, the employee must submit the form to Leave Administration. The employee also must submit a fully completed Health Care Provider's Certification demonstrating the need for the leave directly to Leave Administration. Both forms should be submitted 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 is practicable. Failure to provide a complete and timely medical certification may result in the denial of medical leave, absences being deemed unexcused or unscheduled, and termination of employment.

The decision whether to grant a medical leave is at the discretion of the University. Considerations should include, but are not limited to:  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.

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.

Accrued sick leave, vacation, and personal holidays 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.

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.

Employees on a medical leave are expected to be reasonably responsive to, and communicate with, their supervisor and unit during the leave.

Before returning from medical leave, the employee must provide the employee's supervisor or HRP 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 HRP must 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 may be deemed unexcused or unscheduled, which may result in termination of employment.

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. (See Policy U202 Talent Acquisition.)

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.

Roles and Responsibilities:

Word/Phrase Definition
Employee The Employee is responsible for requesting the Medical 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 Medical Leave of Absence, return to work slips, and other relevant information to Leave Administration, as well as 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 Medical 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 U502 Attendance (Absenteeism, Tardiness and Job Abandonment)

Policy U509 Vacation

Policy U511 Personal Holidays

Policy U512 Sick Leave

Policy U513 Short Term Disability

Policy U514 Long Term Disability

Leave Request Form

Key Contacts:

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