314. Sick Leave
Policy No. 314
Responsible Department: Office of Human Resources
Responsible Administrator: Chief Human Resources Officer
Reviewed/Updated Date: January 2023
Date of Scheduled Review: January 2027
To provide income protection for employees who, because of illness or accident of the employee or the employee’s spouse, children or parents, are absent from work for limited periods.
This policy applies to all full-time, reduced full-time and half-time employees.
A. Sick leave may be granted and pay received for an absence within the following limits.
- Illness of employee
- Illness of employee’s spouse
- Illness of employee’s children
- Illness of employee’s parents
- Illness of spouse’s parents
- Birth of employee’s child
- Doctor’s appointments for the above mentioned
- Deaths that occur in the immediate family of the employee or the employee’s spouse (mother, father, mother-in-law, father-in-law, husband, wife, son, son-in-law, daughter, daughter-in-law, brother, sister, grandfather, grandmother, grandchildren).
B. Full-time employees accrue sick leave at the rate of 8 hours/month. Reduced and half-time employees accrue sick leave on the same basis as full-time except it is prorated according to the number of hours worked.
Sick leave may accrue to a total of 1,040 hours, and sick leave pay may be drawn up to a maximum of 40 hours per week.
The university may require an employee to support a request for sick leave benefits with medical certification. Failure to provide a statement from a physician may lead to a denial of benefits.
Serious health conditions or maternity leave may qualify an employee for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. For more details, refer to Policy No. 321.
When an employee has exhausted all sick leave and vacation, he/she may apply to receive leave from the Shared Leave Bank, if eligible under the Shared Leave Bank policy. (See Policy No. 314.1)
When an employee is absent as a result of injury or sickness, the employee may qualify for benefits compensable under the Workers’ Compensation Act, as well as for ACU sick leave pay. When the employee qualifies for both, sick leave pay will be adjusted to ensure the employee does not receive more than 100 percent of base salary. Further, available sick leave may end earlier or later than Workers’ Compensation benefits, based on university sick leave policy.
Time paid for sick leave does not count as time worked in calculating overtime for the week.
IV. PROCEDURE (OR PROCESS)
A. These guidelines should be followed by supervisors in administering sick leave:
1. Approval of Sick Leave Department supervisors are expected to approve only those requests for sick leave pay that are within the allowable limits for each employee. Vacation time will be charged if more sick leave is requested than has been accumulated.
2. Maintenance of Contact During sick leave, an employee must maintain daily contact (before 8:30 a.m. or make other suitable arrangements) with the supervisor in order for the supervisor to know the employee’s estimated date of return to work. Sick leave benefits are contingent upon maintenance of regular contact with the supervisor.
3. Physician’s Release Upon Return Depending on the length and circumstances of an employee’s illness, the supervisor may require a physician’s written release before the employee may return to work.
B. Termination of Benefits
If an employee’s absence due to illness continues beyond the period covered by sick leave, the employee will be placed on medical leave of absence status without pay. At the employee’s option, unused vacation may be used before transferring to medical leave of absence status.
Accumulated sick leave will not be paid upon termination. However, upon separation from the university, an employee may donate up to 350 hours to the Shared Leave Bank. (See Policy No. 314.1)
314.1 Shared Leave Bank
320. Paid Parental Leave
Policy No. 320
Responsible Department: Human Resources
Responsible Administrator: Chief Human Resources Officer
Effective Date: January 1, 2023
Date of Scheduled Review: January 1, 2027
ACU seeks to support faculty and staff whose families experience the birth or adoption of a child.
This policy applies to full and reduced-time faculty and staff.
ACU will provide up to six weeks of paid parental leave to employees following the birth of an employee’s child (live or still) or placement of a child with an employee in connection with adoption. The purpose of paid parental leave is to enable the employee time for physical healing and to care for and bond with a newborn or newly adopted child. As applicable, this policy will run concurrently with Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave. This policy will be in effect for births or adoptions occurring on or after January 1, 2023.
C. Eligible employees must meet the following criteria:
- Be a full- or reduced-full-time faculty or staff member
- In addition, employees must meet one of the following criteria:
- Have given birth to a child.
- Be a spouse of a woman who has given birth to a child.
- Have adopted a child (the child must be 17 or younger). The adoption of a new spouse’s child is excluded from this policy.
D. Amount, Time Frame and Duration of Paid Parental Leave
Eligible employees will receive a maximum of six weeks of paid parental leave per birth or adoption of a child/children. The fact that a multiple birth, adoption or placement occurs (e.g., the birth of twins or adoption of siblings) does not increase the six-week total amount of paid parental leave granted for that event. In addition, in no case will an employee receive more than six weeks of paid parental leave in a rolling 12-month period, regardless of whether more than one birth or adoption event occurs within that 12-month time frame.
Each week of paid parental leave will be compensated at 100 percent of the employee’s regular, straight-time weekly pay. Paid parental leave will be paid biweekly on regularly scheduled pay dates.
Approved paid parental leave may be taken at any time during the 12 months immediately following the birth or adoption of a child with the employee. Paid parental leave may not be used or extended beyond this 12-month time frame.
In the event of a female employee who has given birth, the six weeks of paid parental leave will commence after any short-term disability leave/benefit provided to the employee for the employee’s medical recovery following childbirth.
Employees must use all paid parental leave during the 12-month time frame indicated above. Any unused paid parental leave will be forfeited at the end of the 12 months.
Upon termination of the individual’s employment at ACU, they will not be paid for any unused paid parental leave for which they were eligible.
E. Coordination with Other Policies
Paid parental leave taken under this policy will run concurrently with leave under the FMLA; thus, any leave taken under this policy that falls under the definition of circumstances qualifying for leave due to the birth or placement of a child due to adoption will be counted toward the 12 weeks of available FMLA leave per a 12-month period. All other requirements and provisions under the FMLA will apply. In no case will the total amount of leave—whether paid or unpaid—granted to the employee under the FMLA exceed 12 weeks during the 12-month FMLA period. Please refer to the Family and Medical Leave Policy for further guidance on the FMLA.
After the paid parental leave (and any short-term disability leave for employees giving birth) is exhausted, the balance of FMLA leave (if applicable) will be compensated through employees’ accrued sick and vacation time. Upon exhaustion of accrued sick and vacation time, any remaining leave will be unpaid leave. Please refer to the Family and Medical Leave Policy for further guidance on the FMLA.
ACU will maintain all employee benefits during the paid parental leave period just as if they were taking any other paid leave, such as paid vacation or sick leave.
If a holiday occurs while the employee is on paid parental leave, such day will be charged to holiday pay; however, such holiday pay will not extend the total paid parental leave entitlement.
An employee who takes paid parental leave that does not qualify for FMLA leave will be afforded the same level of job protection for the period of time that the employee is on paid parental leave as if the employee was on FMLA-qualifying leave.
F. Requests for Paid Parental Leave
The employee will notify their supervisor and the human resource department by completing an application for parental leave as soon as is practical but at least 30 days prior to the proposed leave date (or if the leave was not foreseeable, as soon as possible). The employee must complete the necessary HR forms and provide all documentation required by the HR department to substantiate the request.
For faculty on a 9, 10, or 11-month contract, leave may be sought from the beginning (usually mid-August) through the end of the contract period.
Faculty on a 12-month contract leave may be sought at any point during the contract period.
2. Tenure and Promotion
The university allows tenure-track faculty members to “stop the tenure clock” in some cases, effectively extending the final date by which the faculty member must apply for tenure. Reasons for such an action may include pregnancy or family leave; personal trauma or illness; care for a parent, child, or spouse; unusual personal, academic, or administrative responsibilities; or extraordinary events beyond the faculty member’s control that affect personal performance.
Assuming the faculty member meets one of the above-stated reasons for stopping the clock, a written request must be submitted by the faculty member to the chair and the dean. The faculty member, chair, and dean will then negotiate to stop the clock, and in appropriate cases, the faculty member’s request will be granted. Each “stop the clock” request that is approved will extend the tenure clock for twelve months. In most cases, the option to stop the clock will be limited to two instances for a maximum of two years.
See the Faculty Handbook for more information on Tenure and Promotion.
As is the case with all employee policies, ACU has the exclusive right to interpret this policy.
321. Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
Policy No. 321
Effective Date: January 1, 1994
Reviewed/Updated Date: January 2015
Date of Scheduled Review: January 2019
FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE ACT (FMLA)
To enable eligible employees to receive time away from work, with or without pay, for limited periods to attend to specified medical or family needs with job protection and no loss of accumulated service.
This policy applies to all full-time and half-time employees who have been employed by Abilene Christian University for at least 12 months as of the date the leave begins, and have completed 1,250 hours of service during the 12 month period immediately preceding the leave.
“Covered Service Member”: A member of the U.S. Armed Forces, including a member of the National Guard or Reserves, who is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy, is otherwise in outpatient status, or is otherwise on the temporary disability retired list, for a serious injury or illness that was incurred while the service member was serving on active duty and in the line of duty and could render the service member unfit to perform the duties of his or her office, grade, rank or rating
“Employee’s child, son or daughter”: the employee’s biological, adopted, or foster child, stepchild, legal ward, or child for whom the employee stood in loco parentis. A child must be 18 years or younger, or a child over age 18 with a physical or mental disability that renders them incapable of self-care.
“In Loco Parentis”: The status of a person who holds day-to-day responsibilities to care for and/or financially supports a child, or who had such responsibility for a person when the person was a child. The status does not require a biological or legal relationship.
“Intermittent Leave”: FMLA leave taken in separate blocks of time due to a single qualifying reason.
“Reduced Leave Schedule”: FMLA leave that reduces an employee’s usual number of working hours per workweek or hours per workday.
“Serious Health Condition”: An illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves either inpatient care or continuing treatment by a health care provider, lasting more than three consecutive full calendar days plus either (a) an in-person treatment by a health care provider at least once within seven days of the first day of incapacity followed by a regimen of continuing treatment or (b) two or more treatments with 30 days of the first day of incapacity.
“Veteran”: A person who served in the active military, naval, or air service of the United States, and who was discharged or released from that service under conditions other than dishonorable.
- Events That May Entitle an Employee to FMLA Leave – Eligible employees are entitled to take FLMA leave for one or more of the following reasons:
- Employee’s own serious health condition which makes the employee unable to perform the functions of the employee’s job;
- To care for the employee’s child, spouse, or parent with serious health condition;
- For the birth of a child or placement of a child for foster care or adoption;
- To provide care for a covered service member or veteran with a serious illness or injury if the service member is the employee’s spouse, child, parent, or next of kin (“military caregiver leave”); or
- For a qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, child, or parent is a member of the regular U.S. Armed Forces, National Guard or Reserves who is deployed to a foreign country on active duty; or has been notified of an impending call or order to active duty in a foreign country (“qualifying exigency leave”). This does not apply to members of the state military unless they are called into federal service.Qualifying exigencies include the following:
- Any issue relating to a short-notice deployment;
- Attendance at military events and related activities, such as pre-deployment briefings and family support sessions;
- Time needed to provide or arrange for childcare or participate in school-related activities with respect to a child or ward of the covered family member;
- Time needed to make or update financial and legal arrangements relating to the covered family member or act as the covered family member’s representative with respect to military service benefits;
- Time needed to participate in counseling, where the need for counseling arises from the covered member’s active duty or call to active duty;
- Up to five days spent with a covered family member on short-term rest and recuperation leave from a deployment;
- Post-deployment activities, including any official ceremony sponsored by the military, as well as exigencies arising from the death of a covered family member while on active duty status;
- Other activities provided that the University and the employee agree that such leave shall qualify as an exigency and agree to both the timing and duration of the leave.
- Amount of Leave That May Be Taken
- Except for military caregiver leave, employees are entitled to take up to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave during a rolling 12 month period for an approved FMLA-qualifying reason. The 12-month period to take up to 12 workweeks of FMLA begins on the day the employee first takes leave for an FMLA-qualifying reason. The university will measure backward 12 months from the date that an employee seeks FMLA leave to determine whether that employee has exhausted his or her entitlement to leave in the 12 month period. For example, assuming an employee takes no military caregiver leave, if an employee used 4 weeks of FMLA leave beginning February 1, 2011, 4 weeks beginning June 1, 2011, and 4 weeks beginning December 1, 2011, the employee would not be entitled to any additional leave until February 1, 2011. However, beginning on February 1, 2011, the employee would be entitled to 4 weeks of leave; on June 1, 2011, the employee would be entitled to an additional 4 weeks, etc.
- Employees taking military caregiver leave are entitled to take up to 26 work weeks of leave during a rolling 12 month period. During this period the employee may not take more than a combined maximum of 26 work weeks of FMLA leave for all types of FMLA leave. For employees taking military caregiver leave, the single 12-month period to take up to 26 workweeks of FMLA begins on the day the employee first takes leave to care for the covered service member.
- Employees may take intermittent or reduced schedule FMLA leave for their own serious health condition, for a family member’s health condition, to care for an injured service member, or for recovery from a serious health condition or from treatment. Leave taken for qualifying exigencies may also be taken on an intermittent basis. Intermittent or reduced-schedule leave should be scheduled to the extent possible to minimally disrupt business operations. When an employee takes intermittent or reduced-schedule leave, the University may temporarily transfer the employee to an alternative position with equivalent pay and benefits for which the employee is qualified and which better accommodates a reduced-schedule or intermittent leave schedule.
- Limits to Amount of Leave Taken
- Leave taken to care for a newborn or newly placed child must conclude within 12 months after the birth or placement of the child.
- A husband and wife who are both employed by the University and are eligible for FMLA leave are entitled to a combined 12 workweeks of FMLA, unless taking military caregiver leave, in which case they may take up to a combined 26 workweeks of FMLA leave.
- For exigency leave taken due to short-notice deployment, employees may take up to seven calendar days of FMLA leave beginning on the date the covered military member receives call or order to covered active duty.
- For exigency leave taken due to rest and recuperation for the covered service member, employees may take up to five days of leave for each instance.
- Use of Accrued/Paid Leave While on FMLA
- An employee must use all accrued leave concurrently with FMLA hours while on FMLA leave. This includes sick, holiday, and vacation leave. Once accrued leave is exhausted, the balance of the FMLA leave will be without pay. However, once accrued leave is exhausted, employees may apply for and receive (if approved) hours from ACU’s shared leave bank to apply towards the FMLA leave.
- Employees receiving workers’ compensation or temporary disability benefits are not required to use all paid leave while receiving those particular benefits.
PROCEDURE FOR APPLYING FOR LEAVE
- Notice by Employee/Notice to Employee
- Whenever reasonable and practicable, the employee must give at least thirty (30) days advance notice of the need to take FMLA leave.
- If the need for FMLA leave is not foreseeable, the employee should notify Human Resources and his or her supervisor as soon as possible. Supervisors should consult with Human Resources immediately upon learning of the employee’s request (verbally or in writing) for FMLA leave or of an absence that may qualify for FMLA leave.
- Failure to give proper notice, without a reasonable excuse, may delay the commencement of the employee’s leave or withdraw any designation of FMLA leave, in which case the employee’s leave of absence would be unauthorized, subjecting the employee to discipline up to and including dismissal.
- If the employee meets the FMLA eligibility requirements, and after Human resources receives proper documentation (see section IV. F. “Certification” below), the employee will be notified in writing within five business days whether the leave is approved, not approved, or if additional information is needed. When additional information is needed, employees will have seven calendar days to provide the requested information.
- For an employee’s own serious health condition or that of a family member, or for military caregiver leave, the employee must provide a health provider’s signed medical certification to Human Resources. Second or third medical opinions and periodic re-certifications may be required, but will not be required for military caregiver leave.
- For exigency leave, the employee must provide Human Resources with a copy of the covered active duty orders or other military documentation indicating the covered military member is on covered active duty or call to covered active duty status, per each call to covered active duty.
- The University requires that the serious medical condition be recertified every 30 days except for leave related to pregnancy or childbirth or where the minimum duration of the serious health condition at issue is more than 30 days. For employees requesting intermittent or reduced leave for periods in excess of six months, the University requires recertification every six months. In addition, employees are required to report periodically on their status and intent to return to work. If the circumstances of an employee’s leave change, and the employee is able to return to work earlier than originally indicated, the employee should notify the University at least two days prior to the date that he or she intends to return to work.
- Before an employee may return to work after taking continuous FMLA leave, Human Resources may require the employee to present a fitness-for-duty certification from a health care provider.
- Certifications must contain particular information, so employees are encouraged to consult with Human Resources to verify the information required.
- Continuation of Benefits
- While on FMLA leave, ACU will continue to contribute its applicable share of insurance premiums as if the employee were at work or on paid leave.
- Employees on FMLA leave are required to pay their share of health plan premiums in any manner customarily used by ACU.
- Failure to pay the employee’s share of premiums will result in cancelation of coverage for remaining duration of the FMLA leave. Upon return to work, the employee’s benefits will be restored to at least the same level and terms as were in place when the FMLA leave began.
- During FMLA leave, the taking of another job may lead to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.
- Reinstatement/Returning to Work
- Upon returning from FLMA leave, eligible employees will be restored to their former position or to an equivalent job with equivalent pay, benefits, and other employment terms and conditions.
- ACU cannot guarantee that the employee will be returned to the position held before the FMLA leave began. Exceptions are permitted when the original position is abolished during the FMLA leave due to reduction in force, reorganization, or if the employee would not otherwise have been employed even if the leave had not been taken.
- If the employee on leave of absence is a salaried employee among the highest paid ten percent of university employees living within 75 miles of the university, and keeping the job open for the employee would result in substantial economic injury to the university, reinstatement to the position may be denied. However, the employee will be given an opportunity to return to work in a different job.
- Any employee who fails to return to work as scheduled after FMLA leave may be subject to dismissal from employment. Employees who exceed their FMLA entitlement without extension(s) of their leave approved under other appropriate leave provisions, may be subject to dismissal from employment.
- Record Keeping Requirements
- Any document containing medical information about an employee is considered a medical record and is regarded as confidential. The Office of Human Resources will maintain medical records in a file separate from all other employee records. If necessary, however, these records may be disclosed to supervisors and managers as needed to evaluate and accommodate necessary work restrictions, to first aid and safety personnel if the employee’s physical or medical condition might require emergency treatment, and to government officials investigating compliance with FMLA.
- Applying For Leave
- To apply for FMLA Leave an employee must first notify his or her supervisor of his or her absence from work. Employee must complete the FMLA Request Form to initiate the leave request. If needed, the employee may contact the Office of Human Resources at 325-674-2359 to assist the employee in completing the FMLA Request Form.
- Employee will need to see his or her physician and provide the physician with a signed and dated copy of the certification form that will be provided to the employee upon the employee’s receipt of the Notice of Eligibility and Rights & Responsibilities form (WH-381).
- Employee is responsible for returning the Certification of Health Care Provider form to the Office of Human Resources within 15 calendar days of the employee’s receipt of the Notice of Eligibility and Rights & Responsibilities form (WH-381).
- Employee will then receive a Designation Notice from the Office of Human Resources within 5 business days of HR receiving the employee’s medical certification informing the employee of the approval or denial of their FMLA leave. If the leave is approved, the Designation Notice will provide official notice to the employee that their associated leave time will be considered FMLA leave.
322. Leaves of Absence
Policy No. 322
Responsible Department: Human Resources
Responsible Administrator: Director of Human Resources
Effective Date: October 1, 1995
Reviewed Date: January 2012
Date of Scheduled Review: January 2016
LEAVES OF ABSENCE WITHOUT PAY
To enable employees to receive extended time away from work to recover from medical disability or handle compelling personal business.
This policy applies to all employees at ACU.
Leaves of absence without pay may be granted to employees to maintain continuity of service only in instances where unusual or unavoidable circumstances require prolonged absence. (See IV, Definition, Policy No. 322) No loss of service credit with the university will occur as a result of the leave of absence, but no benefit credit will accrue toward vacation and sick leave entitlement for the duration of the leave. The employee will be responsible for paying the entire cost of his/her group health insurance coverage and that of his or her dependents.
Medical Leave. For employees who do not qualify under the Family and Medical Leave Act, Policy No. 321 (part-time employees and employees who have been employed for less than one year), a medical leave of absence will be granted up to 60 consecutive calendar days when supported by a physician’s statement. Accrued sick leave benefits must be used prior to commencement of the unpaid portion of the leave.
Personal Leave of Absence. A personal leave of absence to handle compelling personal business may be granted to full-time employees. Length of a personal leave of absence may range from five to 30 consecutive calendar days. To be eligible, the employee must have maintained a satisfactory record of employment with the university for a minimum of one year. Employees must use all accrued vacation before a personal leave of absence commences.
A personal leave of absence is approved at the discretion of the employee’s immediate supervisor with the concurrence of one higher level of management. The employee must be available to return to regular employment on or before the expiration date of the leave.
“Leave of absence” is defined as an excused absence without pay beyond five working days. An absence involving paid time off (i.e. jury duty, sick leave or bereavement leave) is not considered a leave of absence, nor is personal time off up to five days.
Application and Commencement
Requests for leave of absence or an extension thereof must be submitted in writing to the supervisor two weeks prior to the commencement date, except when medical conditions make such a requirement impossible. (Use request for leave of absence form, following.)
Extensions of leaves of absence are ordinarily not granted but, under critical circumstances such as an extended medical disability, may be granted. No extension will be granted beyond 60 days without the President’s approval.
- Upon return from a medical or personal leave of absence, employees will be reinstated in the following priority of position reassignment:
- prior position, if available
- a comparable position for which the employee is qualified, if available
- a lesser position for which the employee is qualified
- If no work is available according to the reassignment priorities listed above, the employee will be separated from employment with the university.
- Employees on leave of absence must notify their supervisor at least two weeks prior to end of leave to inform the university of availability for return to work.
- The university may require employees to have a physician’s release or a physical examination to determine fitness for work prior to return from a medical leave of absence.
An employee’s failure to return from leave of absence, or failure to contact his or her supervisor or the Director of Human Resources after the scheduled date of return, will be considered a voluntary resignation.
323. Unpaid Personal Time Off
Policy No. 323
Responsible Department: Human Resources
Responsible Administrator: Director of Human Resources
Effective Date: January 1, 1994
Reviewed Date: January 2012
Date of Scheduled Review: January 2016
UNPAID PERSONAL TIME OFF
To provide a means for employees to secure limited time off when such time is needed for important personal reasons.
This policy applies to employees at ACU.
The university may grant to regular employees unpaid time off for substantial personal reasons, provided such time off does not materially affect the normal conduct of the university, customer service or operating costs.
- Duration. The duration of personal time off ranges from a few hours to five days. Beyond five days, a leave of absence will be used. (See Policy No. 322 Leaves of Absence Without Pay)
- Conditions. In considering an employee’s request for personal time off, the seriousness of the matter prompting the request will be taken into consideration by the supervisor. Such requests should be in response to serious personal needs rather than for occasional time off to rest of relax. Employees must make an effort to schedule ordinary personal and business affairs outside working hours.
Examples of needs considered to be reasonable uses of unpaid personal time off include: extensive legal affairs or funeral of a friend or relative.
Examples of causes not considered to be reasonable uses of unpaid personal time off include: chronic automobile trouble, non-emergency financial problems, visiting relatives, other employment (moonlighting), or seeking employment outside the university.
- The requesting employee’s performance record and previously granted time off will be taken into consideration by the supervisor before granting a time off request.
- When the need for absence from work is known in advance, the employee must notify the supervisor immediately.
- Employees will continue to be covered under all insured benefit plans while they are on approved personal time off.
- Unpaid personal time off will be recorded on the employee time sheet using the lost time code 145.