Leaves of Absence

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Northwestern recognizes that employees may need time off from their job for various reasons and provides a variety of leaves of absence for employees.

Leaves of absence may have varying effects on benefits. In certain situations, employees will be expected to use all available PTO before a leave of absence and/or arrange for continuation of insurance benefits.

The University will provide employees with any leave of absence required by law, in accordance with provisions of the law. Any other request for leaves of absence, not legally required, will be reviewed against overall business needs and the University's ability to replace the employee during their absence. These leaves will be approved on a case-by-case basis at the sole discretion of the University.

For any leave of absence, an employee must request approval from their supervisor as far in advance as possible. Failure to return from a leave will be considered a voluntary resignation.

For questions about any type of leave, contact Human Resources.

Family Medical Leave (FMLA)

Regular employees who have completed at least twelve (12) months of service and worked at least 1,250 hours during the twelve (12) consecutive months preceding the date the leave are eligible for a Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) as provided by law. A leave of absence, which is foreseeable ordinarily requires thirty (30) days' notice. Employees who qualify for disability, worker's comp, etc. are required to use such leaves concurrently with FMLA.

The leave is unpaid; however, employees may use any available PTO hours as part of the twelve (12) week entitlement to leave under this policy. PTO will not accrue during an employee's FMLA leave. In cases of the employees' own serious health condition, short term disability benefits may be available. Under a FMLA leave, an employee may take up to twelve (12) workweeks of family and/or medical leave during a rolling twelve (12)-month period. The rolling twelve (12)-month period is calculated from the date the leave begins.

This leave of absence is available for any of the following purposes:

  • For incapacity due to pregnancy, prenatal medical care or child birth
  • To care for the employee’s child after birth, or placement for adoption or foster care
  • To care for the employee’s spouse, domestic partner, son or daughter, step-son or step-daughter, son or daughter of a domestic partner, or own parent, who has a serious health condition
  • For a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the employee’s job
  • Eligible employees with a spouse, son, daughter, or parent on active duty or call to active duty status in the National Guard or Reserves in support of a contingency operation may use their 12-week leave entitlement to address certain qualifying exigencies

FMLA also includes a special leave entitlement that permits eligible employees to take up to 26 weeks of leave to care for a covered service member during a single 12-month rolling period.

Medical certification will be required from a healthcare provider in all cases involving either FMLA leave to care for a seriously ill spouse, child, or parent, or FMLA leave due to an employee's serious health condition. An employee may continue participating in the group insurance plans while on a FMLA leave by continuing to pay his/her share of the premiums. If the employee does not return to work at the end of the leave, Northwestern Health Sciences University will consider it a voluntary resignation.

If an employee returns from a FMLA leave during or at the end of the twelve (12) work week period, he or she will be reinstated to the same or a comparable position. Employees taking leave for a serious health condition will be required to obtain a return to work certification from their healthcare provider prior to returning to work.

The FMLA Policy is available in the Employee Policy & Procedure Manual.

Parental Leave

Minnesota employees who have been employed at the University for at least one (1) year and who work an average of at least half time (20 hours) each week may request an unpaid Parental Leave in conjunction with the birth or adoption of a child.

Employees requesting such leave should give reasonable written notice to Human Resources and may continue all group insurance during the leave by paying the necessary premiums. Any time taken for Parental Leave will be in conjunction with Family Medical Leave. Up to a maximum of six (6) weeks may be taken under Parental Leave.

Employees requesting a Parental Leave will retain the accrued benefits they had prior to the leave. The University will make every reasonable effort to return the employee to the same or a comparable position and pay. If the leave is more than one (1) month, the University requests at least two (2) weeks' notice prior to returning to work.

Personal Leave

The University understands that employees may need time off for personal obligations and may provide employees unpaid time off in these situations. Approval of a personal leave of absence is contingent on the ability of the department to accommodate the absence.

Upon submitting a timely written request, a personal leave of absence without pay may be granted by the employee's department head. This request should be at least two (2) weeks prior to the start of such leave - unless a medical necessity does not permit it. If the leave is for a medical reason, a physician's certification is required. The employee must have been employed with the University for a least six (6) months in a regular full time or regular part time position (budgeted for 20 or more hours a week) to qualify for a Personal Leave.

The length of time for Personal Leaves will be evaluated and approved by management. Anticipated workload requirements and staffing considerations, etc. must be considered.

All available paid leave time and PTO must be used before an employee's personal leave can begin. PTO will not accrue while an employee is on leave.

Employees may continue their health, dental and life insurance by paying 100% of the premiums plus a 2% administrative fee when their leave begins. When the employee returns from a Personal Leave, benefits will again be provided by the University according to the applicable plan(s).

When a Personal Leave ends, Northwestern Health Sciences University will make every reasonable effort to return the employee to the same or a similar position for which the employee is qualified. However, such assignments cannot be guaranteed.

If an employee fails to report to work promptly after the approved leave has expired, Northwestern Health Sciences University will assume the employee has resigned effective the date the leave commenced.

School Conference and Activity Leave

Northwestern may grant unpaid leave up to sixteen (16) hours during any twelve (12) month calendar period to enable a parent to attend a child's special education, pre-school, school conference, or school-related activities if those conferences or activities cannot be scheduled during non-work hours. Employees are eligible for this leave if they have worked for the University on at least a half-time basis for the twelve (12) months preceding the request. Employees are required to notify their supervisor as soon as dates become known.

Bone Marrow Leave

Employees who work an average of twenty (20) hours per week can receive up to forty (40) hours of paid leave to undergo a medical procedure to donate bone marrow. Verification by a physician for the purpose and length of the leave may be required.

Military Duty Leave

The University complies with all applicable federal and state laws relating to military leave. Military Duty Leave applies to regular full time and regular part time employees who are members of the uniformed services (Armed Forces, the Army National Guard and Air National Guard).

Employees subject to these obligations will be expected to notify Human Resources in writing as far in advance of the training period as possible. Members of the military, who are required to report for duty, will be granted an unpaid leave of absence for the duration of their duty and training. When they are again available for work, the University will make an effort to return them to their former position, or a comparable position, in accordance with requirements of the law.

Should an approved military leave exceed thirty (30) days, the employee and applicable dependents will become eligible for 24 months of continued healthcare insurance under USERRA and would pay the full premium for such coverage during this time.

Longevity Leave

Full time PTO eligible employees will receive an additional half (½) day of time off for each year of service beginning on their 10th year of service. This leave time will be added on each subsequent year on the anniversary date. A maximum of five (5) days per year will be added for longevity leave. Longevity leave must be used during the anniversary year in which it was earned. Regular part time employees (budgeted for 20 hours or more a week) will receive longevity leave on a pro-rated basis.

Jury Duty and Witness Leave

Employees are eligible for jury duty leave for the time they serve on a jury. They are expected to provide their supervisor and the Human Resources Department with a copy of the jury duty summons at least one (1) week in advance. These employees will be paid their regular earnings up to a maximum of forty (40) hours per week. The jury duty benefit is paid for a maximum of two (2) weeks in any calendar year. Employees are expected to return to work any time they are released from jury duty during their regularly scheduled work hours.

Employees who are subpoenaed to appear in court as a witness for the University in a case involving Northwestern Health Sciences University will be paid for the time he/she is normally scheduled to work. Should an employee be subpoenaed to appear in court as a witness on his/her own behalf, he/she must take PTO according to the policy guidelines.

Bereavement Leave

Regular full time and regular part time employees (budgeted for 20 or more hours a week) may be eligible to receive paid bereavement leave immediately upon date of hire according to the following list:

Up to three (3) days of paid bereavement leave in the event of a death in their immediate family. Immediate family is defined as spouse, domestic partner, parents, step-parents, child, step-child, brother, sister, guardian, grandparents, grandchildren, great-grandparents, great-grandchildren, current mother/father-in-law, brother/sister-in-law, son/daughter-in-law, step-brother/sister.

Additional working days, not to exceed two (2) may be granted where circumstances require travel out of the surrounding area (200 miles).

One (1) day of paid bereavement leave in the event of a death of an extended family member or friend (up to a maximum of five (5) work days per year).

Employees should use PTO to cover other bereavement absences not listed above.

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