Policies & Contracts

515 - Non-FMLA Medical Leave of Absence

Subject: Non-FMLA Medical Leave of Absence

Section: U515

Date: January, 2022



The purpose of this policy is to provide unpaid leave to employees who are not eligible for or have exhausted FMLA leave.  Non-FMLA Medical Leave is not an entitlement, and approval of this leave is solely at the University’s discretion.

Who is governed by this policy:

This policy applies to all regular full-time and regular part-time staff employees.


Before Your Non-FMLA Medical Leave

Reasons for Non-FMLA Medical Leave

To take a Non-FMLA Medical leave, the leave must be for one of the following reasons:

  • an employee's own serious health condition when they are not eligible for leave under the FMLA leave policy and such leave has been approved by the University;
  • the employee has been granted leave as a reasonable accommodation by the unit after the completion of the interactive process under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and they are not eligible for FMLA leave; or
  • the employee has applied for LTD, is awaiting determination of eligibility from the LTD provider, and is not eligible for FMLA leave.

Intermittent Leave

Intermittent leave is not permitted under Non-FMLA Medical leave.  If the employee requests intermittent time off or a reduced schedule and does not qualify for FMLA, the unit should complete the ADA interactive process to determine if a reasonable accommodation is appropriate. 

Request 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 Non-FMLA Medical leave less than 30 days in advance, the employee must provide notice of the need for the leave as soon as practicable. When the need for Non-FMLA Medical 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 Non-FMLA Medical leave are required to submit a leave request through Workday. Following this submission, Workday will send a notification of the request to Leave Administration.

Leave Administration will respond in Workday to inform the employee of additional obligations, including medical certification supporting the need for Non-FMLA Medical leave, if applicable.

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.

Certifications for Non-FMLA Medical Leave

The University requires medical certification for leaves due to the employee's serious health condition. All certifications and supporting documentation are to be submitted directly to Leave Administration. If applicable, the Notice of Eligibility will outline what documentation is required. The employee must respond with the required documentation within 15 calendar days of the notice from Leave Administration. Failure to comply may result in delay or denial of leave, potentially subjecting the employee to corrective action up to and including termination.

Incomplete Certifications

If the medical certification is incomplete, Leave Administration will provide the employee with the opportunity to have the healthcare provider correct or complete the certification. The employee will have 7 calendar days to resolve any deficiencies, or the Non-FMLA Medical leave request may be denied. 

2nd and 3rd Opinions

The University may request recertification and/or a second opinion for the serious health condition of the employee.  If a second opinion is required, the University will choose a healthcare provider to give the second opinion and will pay the cost. If the first and second opinions differ, the University may require a third opinion. The healthcare provider giving the third opinion will be jointly approved by the University and the employee. The third opinion will be binding. The University will pay the cost of the third opinion.

Approval/Denial Notice

Once Leave Administration receives a completed medical certification the employee will be notified within 5 business days whether the leave is approved or denied and if the leave will be designated as Non-FMLA Medical leave.  This notification will be provided in Workday and through another means such as mail or email. In determining approval, the following may 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. 

If an employee is absent from work for a serious health condition or a condition that progresses into a serious health condition, the University may designate all, or some portion, of the absence as Non-FMLA Medical leave, to the extent that the absence meets the necessary qualifications.

During Your Leave

Duration of Leave

Employees may receive up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during any rolling 12-month period, measured backward from the first day of the Non-FMLA Medical leave. Employees experiencing another qualifying occurrence may request additional time not to exceed a maximum of 26 weeks within the same rolling year. 

Extension of Leave

If the employee’s healthcare provider believes the employee will need additional leave 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 submit an extension request such as a Leave Extension Request form no later than 7 days before their scheduled return to work date. 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.

Call-In Procedures

Unless the employee is on an approved leave, they must comply with their unit’s customary call-in procedures when they are absent from work for reasons covered by Non-FMLA Medical leave. During the call in, the employee must indicate that the absence is for a Non-FMLA Medical leave-covered reason.  The department is responsible for entering the employee’s time into the University’s time-tracking system. 

Communications While on Leave

The employee must keep their department apprised of any changes to their leave. Failure to keep the department appropriately updated may result in delay or denial of leave, potentially subjecting the employee to corrective action for their unexcused absence(s) up to and including termination.

While on leave, an employee is to be fully relieved of their work. However, the department may make brief, sporadic contact to the employee with reasonable requests, such as straightforward questions to obtain vital or institutional knowledge.

The department must contact the employee to obtain a status update prior to the end of their leave. 

Attendance and Non-FMLA Medical Leave

Absences covered by Non-FMLA Medical leave will not be counted as an unscheduled absence under University Policy 502 Attendance (Absenteeism, Tardiness and Job Abandonment). During Non-FMLA Medical leave, employees must continue to comply with Policy 502 and departmental call-in procedures, if applicable. 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

All Non-FMLA Medical leave time taken regardless of whether it is paid or unpaid will count against the employee's approved leave time. Non-FMLA Medical leave is generally unpaid. However, the University has made provisions for employees to receive pay during Non-FMLA Medical leave under certain circumstances, described below:

Accruals: Non-exempt (biweekly) employees must use available time off accruals, as described below, on an hour-for-hour basis in increments of at least 30 minutes before taking unpaid time.

Exempt (monthly) employees taking Non-FMLA Medical leave will be paid for workweeks that include any Non-FMLA Medical leave. However, whole days not worked due to Non-FMLA Medical leave will be charged against the employee's accrued time off unless there are insufficient accruals. Accruals must be used in full day increments.  If the employee does not have a full day of accruals that day will be unpaid. 

An employee on an approved Non-FMLA Medical leave for more than half of the workdays in a month will not accrue sick or vacation time.

Accruals will be used in the following order:

  • Sick Leave: An employee is required to use any available accrued sick time concurrently with Non-FMLA Medical leave.
  • Personal Holiday: An employee is required to use any available personal holiday Short-term disability may affect this requirement. The employee must be at work or use accruals (sick, personal holiday, or vacation) on the award date, to be awarded a personal holiday.
  • Vacation: An employee is required to use any available vacation Short-term disability may affect this requirement.

University Holiday Pay: The employee must use accruals (sick, personal holiday, or vacation) or work on the day before and the day following the University holiday, to be paid for a University holiday.

Short-Term Disability: An employee who is eligible for Short-term disability will receive 60% of the employee’s primary position’s regular base rate of pay at the time of the benefit, minus normal deductions. Payment begins once an employee is totally disabled for a continuous period of 14 days or when an employee’s accrued sick leave is exhausted, whichever is longer.  This benefit is available for 13 weeks maximum.

Paid Parental Benefit: An employee who is eligible for the Paid Parental Benefit may elect to use the benefit to cover the STD waiting period or in lieu of the STD benefit for up to six weeks. Pay is determined by the employee’s primary position’s regular base rate of pay at the time of the benefits, minus normal deductions.

Workers’ Compensation: If applicable, Non-FMLA Medical leave and Workers’ Compensation run concurrently.

Employee Benefits While on Leave

Health Insurance: During an employee's Non-FMLA Medical leave, 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 Non-FMLA Medical leave. If any portion of the leave is paid, the employee's share of the benefit premiums will be paid through automatic payroll deductions. During unpaid Non-FMLA Medical 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 premiums. Any Non-FMLA Medical leave will not be considered a break in service.

Retirement Plans: Non-FMLA Medical 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. If the leave is unpaid for a full calendar month 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.

Notice Requirements for Returning from Non-FMLA Medical Leave

Employees are expected to return to work at the end of their approved leave. Prior to returning from leave, the employee must secure a medical release, such as the Return to Work Notice, from their healthcare provider confirming their ability to return to work with or without restrictions. The release should be completed and submitted to Leave Administration no later than 3 business days before the scheduled return to work date.

If an employee on Non-FMLA Medical leave is released to return to work sooner than the expected return date listed on the approval notice, the employee must notify their supervisor and provide the release to Leave Administration as soon as received and before the updated return to work date.

If the employee is released to return to work with restrictions, the department, in consultation with Employee and Labor Relations, will determine whether the restrictions can be met.

After Your Leave

Job Restoration

An employee who takes a Non-FMLA Medical 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.

Long-Term Disability

Employees who anticipate being on leave longer than 90 continuous days, may be eligible to receive the LTD  benefit and should contact Leave Administration for more information.

Failure to Return after Non-FMLA Medical Leave

Any employee who exceeds their approved Non-FMLA Medical leave without extension or fails to return to work as scheduled after their Non-FMLA Medical 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.

Key Definitions:

Word/Phrase Definition

Serious Health Condition

A serious health condition is an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves either an oversight stay in a medical care facility, or continuing treatment by a health care provider for a condition that either prevents the employee from performing the functions of the employee's job, or prevents the qualified family member from participating in school or other daily activities. Subject to certain conditions, the continuing treatment requirement may be met by a period of incapacity (inability to work) of more than 3 consecutive calendar days combined with at least two visits to a health care provider or one visit and a regiment of continuing treatment, or incapacity due to pregnancy, or incapacity due to a chronic condition. Other conditions may meet the definition of continuing treatment.

Roles and Responsibilities:

Governed Party Roles and Responsibilities
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 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