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The College may grant paid or unpaid leaves of absence to employees. The sections that follow describe the different types of leaves, circumstances under which they may be granted, and the procedures for processing leaves.

If an employee does not return to work upon expiration of the leave, it will be deemed that the employee terminated without notice as of the original date the leave began.

Engaging in employment outside the College while on a leave of absence, will be cause for termination, unless specifically approved in advance.

3.9.15.1 Leaves of Absence With Pay

3.9.15.1.1 Military Leave

Military leave is defined as a period of required active duty or training with the Armed Forces of the United States or any of its reserve components, including the National Guard, commissioned corps of the Public Health Service, and any other category of persons designated by the President in time of war or emergency.

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) is the federal statute governing military leave. USERRA covers nearly all employees, including part-time and probationary employees, and applies to virtually all U.S. employers, regardless of size.

USERRA prohibits employment discrimination against a person on the basis of past military service, current military obligations, or intent to serve. An employer must not deny initial employment, reemployment, retention in employment, promotion, or any benefit of employment to a person on the basis of a past, present, or future service obligation. In addition, an employer must not retaliate against a person because of an action taken to enforce or exercise any USERRA right or for assisting in an USERRA investigation.

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) is administered by the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS). USERRA applies to persons who perform duty, voluntarily or involuntarily, in the "uniformed services," which include the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Public Health Service commissioned corps, as well as the reserve components of each of these services. Federal training or service in the Army National Guard and Air National Guard also gives rise to rights under USERRA. In addition, under the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Response Act of 2002, certain disaster response work (and authorized training for such work) is considered "service in the uniformed services."

Uniformed service includes active duty, active duty for training, inactive duty training (such as drills), initial active duty training, and funeral honors duty performed by National Guard and reserve members, as well as the period for which a person is absent from a position of employment for the purpose of an examination to determine fitness to perform any such duty.

USERRA prohibits employment discrimination against a person on the basis of past military service, current military obligations, or intent to serve. An employer must not deny initial employment, reemployment, retention in employment, promotion, or any benefit of employment to a person on the basis of a past, present, or future service obligation. In addition, an employer must not retaliate against a person because of an action taken to enforce or exercise any USERRA right or for assisting in an USERRA investigation.

The pre-service employer must reemploy service members returning from a period of service in the uniformed services if those service members meet five criteria:

  • The person must have been absent from a civilian job on account of service in the uniformed services;
  • The person must have given advance notice to the employer that he or she was leaving the job for service in the uniformed services, unless such notice was precluded by military necessity or otherwise impossible or unreasonable;
  • The cumulative period of military service with that employer must not have exceeded five years;
  • The person must not have been released from service under dishonorable or other punitive conditions; and
  • The person must have reported back to the civilian job in a timely manner or have submitted a timely application for reemployment, unless timely reporting back or application was impossible or unreasonable.

USERRA establishes a five-year cumulative total of military service with a single employer, with certain exceptions allowed for situations such as call-ups during emergencies, reserve drills, and annually scheduled active duty for training. USERRA also allows an employee to complete an initial period of active duty that exceeds five years.

Employers are required to provide to persons entitled to the rights and benefits under USERRA a notice of the rights, benefits, and obligations of such persons and such employers under USERRA.  

Request for military leave must be submitted in writing to the immediate supervisor and to the Office of Human Resources.  The request should be made as far in advance as possible unless the giving of notice: (1) is prevented by military necessity, or (2) is otherwise impossible or unreasonable.

When an employee goes on military leave, the supervisor should change the employee’s status to unpaid leave for that time period.  In addition, a non-exempt employee’s time report form should be submitted with no hours recorded during the military leave period.  Employees eligible for College benefits will receive the difference between their regular base pay and military pay for a maximum period of two weeks per calendar year for temporary annual or civil emergency duty.  When the employee returns, if the military pay is less than the employee’s regular pay would have been, the employee must bring verification of the amount of the military pay to the Office of Human Resources and arrangements for the employee to be paid the difference will be made.

Payment will not be made for duty lasting less than seven consecutive days, such as weekly drill sessions.  The staff member may elect to use vacation or personal leave to cover any portion of the leave that is unpaid; however, the employee is not required to exhaust his/her paid time away balances before the start of the leave of absence as required for other leaves of absences.

3.9.15.1.2 Returning From Military Leave

USERRA provides that returning service members are to be reemployed in the job that they would have attained had they not been absent for military service, (the “escalator” principle), with the same seniority, status and pay, as well as other rights and benefits determined by seniority. USERRA also requires that reasonable efforts (such as training or retraining) be made to enable returning service members to qualify for reemployment. If the service member cannot qualify for the "escalator" position, he or she must be reemployed, if qualified, in any other position that is the nearest approximation to the escalator position and then to the pre-service position. USERRA also provides that while an individual is performing military service, he or she is deemed to be on a furlough or leave of absence and is entitled to the non-seniority rights accorded other similarly-situated individuals on non-military leaves of absence. The time limits for returning to work are as follows:

  • Less than 31 days service: By the beginning of the first regularly scheduled work period after the end of the calendar day of duty, plus time required to return home safely and an eight hour rest period. If this is impossible or unreasonable, then as soon as possible. 
     
  • 31 to 180 days: The employee must apply for reemployment no later than 14 days after completion of military service. If this is impossible or unreasonable through no fault of the employee, then as soon as possible.
     
  • 181 days or more: The employee must apply for reemployment no later than 90 days after completion of military service.
     
  • Service-connected injury or illness: Reporting or application deadlines are extended for up to two years for persons who are hospitalized or convalescing.

Health and pension plan coverage for service members is also addressed by USERRA. Individuals performing military duty of more than 30 days may elect to continue employer sponsored health care for up to 24 months; however, they may be required to pay up to 102 percent of the full premium. For military service of less than 31 days, health care coverage is provided as if the service member had remained employed. USERRA pension protections apply to defined benefit plans and defined contribution plans as well as plans provided under federal or state laws governing pension benefits for government employees. For purposes of pension plan participation, vesting, and accrual of benefits, USERRA treats military service as continuous service with the employer.

Ithaca College’s policy on military leave follows the required guidelines of USERRA. Questions on military leave of absence or for reinstatement following a leave should be directed to the Office of Human Resources.

3.9.15.1.3 Jury Duty, Subpoenaed Witness

The College recognizes the civic responsibility of its employees to serve on juries or as a subpoenaed court witness. Except in cases involving personal business, employees summoned for jury duty or as a witness will be paid full salary for the duration of the assignment, provided the supervisor or department chair is given a copy of the summons at least one week in advance and after completion of service, the evidence of having served for the time claimed is furnished. Non-benefit eligible employees, including temporary workers who are scheduled to work will be paid $15.00 per day for their service, provided the appropriate documentation of time claimed is presented to the Office of Human Resources.

This policy is applicable to service requested by any legally constituted court or governmental unit, whether municipal, county, district, state, or federal.

Employees are expected to meet job responsibilities to the best of their ability during such periods. The employee should keep the supervisor or department chair informed of the expected duration of the case. The employee will be expected to report for work all or any part of a day the employee is not required to be in court.

Under normal circumstances, the College will not ask for a deferment of jury duty.

3.9.15.1.4 Bereavement Leave

In the event of a death in the immediate family, employees will be paid for up to five days of bereavement leave. “Immediate family” is defined as parents (also foster and step-parents), children, a spouse, a qualified domestic partner, brothers, sisters, in-laws (including parents and children), grandparents and grandchildren. Relatives and other individuals who are permanent members of the household may also be considered “immediate family” for purposes of this policy. In the event of the death of other members of the family, paid time, not to exceed one day, will be given.

If an employee needs additional time beyond the limits stated above, s/he may use paid time away, or the supervisor or department chair may grant the time as unpaid leave. (See section 3.9.15.2 for information on unpaid leaves of absence.)

3.9.15.1.5 Public Service Leave

The College provides paid time off for regular, benefit-eligible employees engaged in certain short-term public service activities. For example, volunteer firefighters or emergency medical technicians who are members of a volunteer fire department may be paid when responding to an emergency call during regular working hours. An employee must request a public service leave commitment in advance, and each time the employee must leave the job, the supervisor must be informed and proof of hours worked must be provided. A supervisor may deny a request for a public service leave commitment if the time away from work becomes excessive or if the commitment impairs the employee’s effectiveness on the job.

3.9.15.1.6 Time Off to Vote

New York State law provides that a registered voter may, without loss of pay for up to three hours, take off so much working time as will enable them to vote at any election.   The employee who is a registered voter must notify their supervisor not less than two working days before the day of the election if they require time off to vote and identify how much time the employee is requesting so as to enable the employee to vote. The supervisor will then determine when during working time the employee will be approved to take the requested time off to vote.  Unless otherwise mutually agreed upon between the employee and the supervisor, the supervisor will approve the requested time off to vote at either the beginning or end of the working shift.

3.9.15.2 Leaves of Absence Without Pay

Staff and administrators may request up to six months of leave without pay and a faculty member, up to two semesters for such compelling reasons as professional or educational development, public service, personal issues or family commitments.

In addition, for the first 12 weeks of an approved, unpaid leave of absence per 12-month period, the College will continue benefit credits and charges for all benefit eligible employees. If an employee requests a leave of longer duration, the employee will need to make arrangements with the Office of Human Resources for the continuation of his/her Individual Choice Benefits. Educational benefits are not in effect during periods of unpaid leave.

If, after completion of the unpaid leave of absence, the employee does not return to his/her position the employee must contact the Office of Human Resources regarding the continuation of his/her Individual Choice benefits. The College will recognize the date the unpaid leave began as the last day worked. If the employee fails to return from an unpaid leave of absence, under most circumstances he/she will be required to reimburse the College for the full cost of benefits associated with the unpaid leave. At that time, if the employee decides to continue his/her benefits, they must make the necessary arrangements for COBRA payment with the Office of Human Resources.

An unpaid leave for staff and administrators will not begin until all vacation and personal leave have been used.

3.9.15.2.1 Leaves of Absence Without Pay Due to Illness or for the Care of Family Members - Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA)

Ithaca College also offers employees the opportunity to apply for up to six months of unpaid leave due to the birth, adoption, or illness of an employee or immediate family member. According to the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA), the federal government requires employers to grant unpaid leaves of absence lasting up to 12 weeks in a 12-month period for the following qualifying events:

  • Birth and care of a newborn
     
  • Placement of a child for adoption or foster care
     
  • A serious health condition that prevents the employee from performing the employee’s duties
     
  • Care of a spouse, child or parent with a serious health condition

In the event that an employee is eligible for and used paid leave for any of the events covered by FMLA, the paid leave will count toward the 12-week FMLA entitlement.

The College does require medical certification of serious health conditions and periodic status reports. Such documentation should be directed to the Office of Human Resources.

As a result of FMLA, Ithaca College will continue benefit credits and charges for all benefit-eligible employees for 12 weeks of an approved paid or unpaid leave per 12-month period. For the purposes of this policy, the College will consider the 12-month period to be the months immediately preceding the request. For example, if an employee requests an unpaid leave for one of the events listed above to begin on
April 1, the College will review the 12-month period retroactively to the previous
March 31 to determine the number of weeks of leave the employee has already received during the year. If the employee requests a leave of longer duration, the employee will need to make arrangements with the Office of Human Resources for the continuation of the employee’s Individual Choice benefits. Educational benefits are not in effect during periods of unpaid leaves of absence.

If a leave is granted, the employee will be reinstated in the employee’s previous job or an equivalent position with equivalent benefits and pay, with credit for service prior to the unpaid leave. If the employee decides not to return to the employee’s position following the leave, the employee must contact the Office of Human Resources regarding continuation of Individual Choice benefits. The College will recognize the date the unpaid leave began as the first day following the last day worked. If the employee fails to return from an unpaid leave of absence, under most circumstances, the employee will be required to reimburse the College for the full cost of benefits associated with the unpaid leave. At that time, if the employee decides to continue the employee’s benefits, they must make the necessary arrangements for COBRA payment with the Office of Human Resources.

3.9.15.2.2 Requesting an Unpaid Leave of Absence

The terms and conditions of unpaid leaves must be stipulated in advance and must be requested, in writing, through the head of the department and approved by the Office of Human Resources. An employee must have completed one year of service and work at least 1,000 hours per year to be eligible for an unpaid leave. An unpaid leave will not begin until all vacation and personal leave have been used. In responding to individual requests, the College will be guided by the detailed provisions mandated by the Family and Medical Leave Act and by the policies contained in this Policy Manual.

3.9.15.2.3 Guidelines for Granting Unpaid Leaves of Absence

Prior to granting an unpaid leave of absence, the supervisor or department chair should contact the Office of Human Resources. Many factors must be considered when an employee requests an unpaid leave of absence including: the type of leave (the College's possible obligation under federal legislation), duration of the request, the individual's employment record and performance reviews, and the ability of the department to organize the work during the employee's absence.

An employee may not request a leave prior to the completion of one year of service.

3.9.15.2.4 How to Process a Leave

The employee should submit a written request to the immediate supervisor or department chair. If the request is for a period of less than seven consecutive days, the supervisor or department chair may approve the leave without going through a formal process. The supervisor must make sure the necessary pay adjustments are made for employees on such a leave.

The supervisor or department chair should send a copy of any request for leave which lasts five working days or longer for staff and administrators and two weeks for faculty, along with the supervisor’s or department chair’s confidential recommendation to grant or not grant the request, to the dean or director of the department and the Office of Human Resources. If the supervisor, dean, or Office of Human Resources all agree that the request should be approved, the supervisor or department chair should consult with Office of Human Resources about confirming the conditions of the leave in writing to ensure that all policies, procedures, and legal requirements are addressed.

A form must be completed and submitted to the Office of Human Resources with a copy of the supervisor’s or department chair’s approval of the leave request. The confirmation letter will follow from the Office of Human Resources.

A leave of absence without pay will not begin until all vacation and personal leave have been used. The period of an unpaid leave is not credited toward length of service.

For the first 12 weeks of an approved leave of absence, the College will continue to provide employees with benefit credits. At the end of the 12-week period (for medical leaves see section section 3.9.15.2.6), the employee is responsible for making the necessary arrangements with the Office of Human Resources to cover the total cost, including the College’s contribution for benefits.

3.9.15.2.5 Length of Leave

An unpaid leave may be granted for a period of up to six months in any 12-month period. An employee is classified as being on medical leave, not on a “leave of absence without pay,” while collecting New York State disability or Workers’ Compensation pay, even if the employee is receiving no payments from the College. However, if an employee has been out on NYS Disability or Workers’ Compensation prior to a leave, the maximum allowable time for the leave is reduced by that absence. Therefore, an employee who has been on disability for three months may be granted a maximum of three months unpaid leave following the disability period. (For more information on medical leaves see section 3.9.15.2.6 below.)

3.9.15.2.6 Medical Leave

An employee who is absent due to personal illness or injury is considered on medical leave and retains the status of “active” employment for a period of up to six months in any 12-month period, provided the employee is receiving New York State disability or Workers’ Compensation, and/or sick, or other paid leave from Ithaca College.

After six consecutive months of illness the College’s long-term disability plan provides benefits to eligible employees who meet the definition of disabled as governed by the plan document. If an absence due to illness is likely to exceed six months, the application process for long-term disability benefits should be started at the three-month point.

If an employee is unable to work due to illness, the employee’s job will generally not remain open beyond six months (up to two years for tenured faculty). However, if an individual has been employed by the College for more than 12 months, an unpaid leave of absence may be approved for three months in addition to the six months of disability if a physician indicates that an employee is likely to return to work within the additional time period. However, the period of the leave may not exceed a total of nine months. If at the end of the six-month leave (nine months if an extension is granted), the employee is not able to return to work, the individual will be separated from employment.

If the employee returns to work following a medical leave of absence, the College will consider its obligation under the Family and Medical Leave Act fulfilled (or partially fulfilled if the leave is less than 12 weeks).

If, after separation, the employee is later able to return, the College cannot guarantee reinstatement but will attempt to place the employee in a position with a similar level of responsibility. The Office of Human Resources will look to the department in which the employee previously worked as well as to current vacancies in other departments.

If there is no possibility that an employee will be able to return within six months, under certain circumstances the supervisor or department chair may receive approval to fill the position prior to the six months. However, because the employee remains active and is receiving benefit credits for the six months, there are budget implications that need to be considered.

The College reserves the right to require a physician’s statement indicating that the employee returning from medical leave is fit to resume the employee’s responsibilities. Because of the need to maintain confidentiality, supervisors and department chairs should instruct employees to submit the medical statement to the Office of Human Resources, and it is the responsibility of the supervisor or Department Chair to contact the Office of Human Resources prior to the employee’s resuming work to be sure the appropriate statement is on file.

3.9.15.2.7 Compassionate Care Policy

The College recognizes that there are extenuating circumstances when employees or their immediate family members will experience a catastrophic illness and the employee will be unable to work. The College also recognizes that during these very rare instances some employees may exhaust their accrual of sick, personal or vacation allowances.

To assist employees during these difficult and emotional times, the College may provide assistance in the form of paid time off to employees who qualify for assistance.

A catastrophic case is defined as one which poses a serious or life threatening illness or injury. The following outlines the qualifications and procedures pertaining to catastrophic cases:

Qualifications:
Employees who have exhausted all paid time away and who can substantiate to the satisfaction of the senior administration (the associate vice president for human resources, the respective vice president and the president) that he/she is experiencing a catastrophic illness or that his/her presence is required to care for a seriously ill immediate family member (spouse, qualified domestic partner or child) will be considered under this policy.

Procedures:
In order to provide the employee with confidential handling of the request, the Office of Human Resources will coordinate all requests. Employees and/or their immediate supervisor should contact the Office of Human Resources to request consideration if the employee or a member of their immediate family is experiencing a catastrophic illness.

The supervisor/department head will make a confidential, written recommendation to the Office of Human Resources on behalf of the employee. Each case will be considered on a confidential, individual basis and the request will be reviewed by the associate vice president for human resources, the respective vice president and the president.

Upon completion of the administration’s review, the Office of Human Resources will notify the employee and his/her supervisor of the decision and benefit approved. If approved, the employee will be given a designated amount of paid time off as recommended by the supervisor/department head.

Last Updated: June 17, 2019