Policies & Contracts

508 - Personal Leave of Absence

Subject: Personal Leave of Absence

Section: U508

Date: January, 2022


The purpose of this policy is to provide unpaid leave to staff employees who need a leave of absence for personal reasons. Employees are not entitled to personal leave, and approval of this leave is solely at the University’s discretion.

Who is governed by this policy:

All full-time and part-time employees.


Before Your Personal Leave

Reasons for Leave

Reasons that may be approved include educational opportunities, research, care for the employee’s newborn, for the placement of a child with the employee for adoption, or to care for a family member. A personal leave may not be used as an alternative to a resignation or other termination of employment nor if eligible for leave under University Policy 522 Family and Medical Leave (FMLA).

Intermittent Leave

Intermittent leave is not permitted under a personal leave.

Requests for Leave

When the need for the leave is foreseeable, the employee must provide the University with at least 30 days’ advanced notice. When the employee becomes aware of a need for a personal leave less than 30 days in advance, the employee must provide notice of the need for the leave as soon as is practicable. When the need for personal leave is not foreseeable, the employee must comply with both their unit’s customary call-in procedures and the process for requesting leave.

Employees requesting a personal leave need to do so with their unit HR Partner and Supervisor.  If the unit agrees that a personal leave may be appropriate, the HR Partner will submit a request for the employee in Workday. Following this submission, Workday will send a notification of the request to Leave Administration.

Leave Administration will respond in Workday to inform employees of additional obligations including whether additional documentation is required to determine approval.

Leave requests that are not submitted according to policy and as soon as practicable may be delayed or denied based on individual facts and circumstances at the discretion of the department and Leave Administration. 

Approval/Denial Notice

Approval or denial of a personal leave is at the joint discretion of the employee’s department and Leave Administration. This notification will be provided in Workday and through other means such as mail or email.  In determining approval, the following will be among the considerations: operational and staffing needs, the reason for the employee’s request, the employee's job performance, and the employee’s attendance record.

Once Leave Administration receives a completed request, the employee will be notified within 5 business days whether the leave is approved or denied.

During Your Leave

Duration of Leave

The employee may receive between 2 weeks and 6 months of unpaid leave with the ability to extend to a total of one year. An employee will be approved for no more than a maximum of 12 months of personal leave in any 24-month period.

Extension of Leave

If the employee needs to be absent from work beyond the dates outlined on the approval notice, the employee must contact Leave Administration and their supervisor immediately. To request additional leave, the employee will be required to request an extension by contacting their HR Partner and Supervisor no later than 7 days before their scheduled return to work date.  If the extension may be approved the HR Partner must submit a new request for a personal leave for the employee in Workday.

Failure to comply may result in delay or denial of additional leave, potentially subjecting the employee to corrective action for their unexcused absence(s) up to and including termination.

Attendance and Personal Leave

Absences covered by personal leave will not be counted as an unscheduled absence under University Policy 502 Attendance (Absenteeism, Tardiness and Job Abandonment). During personal leave, employees must continue to comply with Policy 502 and departmental call-in procedures. Employees may be subject to corrective action if, during their leave, they engage in activities inconsistent with the stated purpose for the leave. 

Pay Status While on Leave

A personal leave is unpaid unless the paid parental benefit applies.

An employee on an approved personal leave for more than half of the workdays in a month will not accrue sick, vacation, or personal holidays.

Sick Leave: The employee’s accrued sick leave will remain intact during a personal leave.

Vacation and Personal Holidays: The employee can elect to freeze their unused but accrued vacation and personal holidays or to have them paid out.  If an employee elects to have their accruals paid out, the payout will occur as soon as practicable after the personal leave begins.  If no election is made, the accruals will be frozen.

University Holiday Pay: An employee is not awarded holiday pay while on a personal leave.

Paid Parental Benefit: An employee who is eligible for the paid parental benefit may receive up to 6 weeks of pay to be completed within 12 months of when the employee’s child is born or adopted. Pay is determined by the employee’s primary position’s regular base rate of pay at the time of the benefit, minus normal deductions.

Employee Benefits While on Leave

Health Insurance (Medical, Dental, and Vision): The University will maintain health insurance and other group benefits on the same conditions as if the employee was working, subject to applicable plan documents and law. An employee must pay the same contribution rate as if they were an active employee to continue benefits during a personal leave.

During the paid parental benefit, the employee's share of the benefit premiums will be paid through automatic payroll deductions.

During unpaid personal leave, the employee will be billed by a third-party administrator and must make payments for their share of the premiums monthly.  The University's obligation to maintain health benefits ceases if an employee fails to pay their share of the premiums.  A personal leave will not be considered a break in service.

Flexible Spending Account (FSA) and Health Savings Account (HSA): During the paid parental benefit, the employee's contributions towards an FSA or HSA will be paid through automatic payroll deductions. 

During an unpaid personal leave, the contributions will cease.  Funds already contributed remain available for use. Please note, the FSA plan year remains the same for both the medical and dependent care flexible spending accounts regardless of leave status.

Retirement Plans: Personal leave will be treated as continuous service (i.e., no break in service) for purposes of vesting and eligibility to participate in the University's retirement plans

During the paid parental benefit, the employee's contributions toward retirement will be paid through automatic payroll deductions. 

During an unpaid personal leave, an employee participating in the retirement plans will not continue to contribute, but contributions that the employee has already made will not be affected.

Tuition Benefits: Please refer to the Educational Assistance Plan Summary of Benefits.

After Your Leave

Job Restoration

An employee who takes a personal leave does not have job restoration rights. However, the University will generally reinstate the employee to the same position or a position with equivalent status, pay, benefits and other employment terms upon the employee's return before or at the end of the approved leave period.  In the event the University will not be able to restore the employee, the employee will receive written notice.

Employee Benefits Upon Return from Leave

Upon returning from leave, premiums for health insurance and other group benefits will resume through payroll deductions.  If applicable, FSA and HSA deductions will resume.

Failure to Return after Personal Leave

Any employee who exceeds their approved personal leave without extension or fails to return to work as scheduled after their personal leave may be subject to termination of employment.


Employees represented by a union may be governed by the provisions of the appropriate collective bargaining agreement.

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 U222 Compensable Time, Record-Keeping and Tracking Absences

Policy U509 Vacation

Policy U511 Personal Holidays

Policy U512 Sick Leave

Policy U703 Progressive Corrective Action

Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act

Illinois Occupational Diseases Act

FMLA Employee Guide

FMLA Employee Rights And Responsibilities Poster 

Key Contacts:

Name Email Extension
Center of Expertise – Benefits: Leave Administration leaveadministration@uchicago.edu 2-9634