UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN River Falls

Faculty and Academic Staff Handbook

23rd Edition, 2013 Version


Chapter V: Compensation Procedures and Issues

5.5 Sick Leave and Colleague Coverage-Use and Reports for UW-RF Unclassified Employees - Procedures

5.5.1 Policy Statement

Paid sick leave is a significant fringe benefit for a UW System unclassified employee. In accordance with Chapter UWS 19, Wisconsin Administrative Code and UPG 9 and 10, employees may use sick leave during periods of illness, injury, disability, pregnancy, adoption or bereavement upon the death of an immediate family member as well as during periods associated with attendance upon immediate family members whose health or medical condition requires the employee’s direct care. The federal or Wisconsin Family Medical Leave Act may allow use of sick leave for additional purposes, see section 5.5.15. In the event of an employee's death, layoff or retirement, the accumulated sick leave value is used to pay for state group health insurance premiums.

5.5.1.1 Eligibility for Sick Leave

Faculty, academic staff, and limited appointees who meet the eligibility requirements for the Wisconsin Retirement System will earn sick leave while in pay status. A qualifying appointment must be at least one-third time for at least one year. For academic year appointments, one academic year meets WRS qualification. (UWS 19, Wis. Adm. Code)

5.5.2 Accrual of Sick Leave

  1. As of the effective date of this chapter, each employee's account shall reflect the accrued balance of unused sick leave earned under the Board of Regents' sick leave policy adopted on June 8, 1973.
  2. Employees whose initial appointments are for nine months or more shall be credited with 22 working days of sick leave which they may draw upon as required, consistent with UWS 19.01.
  3. After 18 months of service, each employee shall earn additional non-lapsing sick leave at the rate of 1 day per month for persons holding annual appointments and at the rate of 6 days per semester for persons who hold academic year appointments, with a maximum annual accumulation limited to not more than 12 days.
  4. Unused sick leave shall accumulate from year to year in the employee's sick leave account pursuant to section 36.30 (1), Wis. Stats.
  5. An employee utilizing paid sick leave shall continue to accumulate sick leave credits during the period of the sick leave absence.
  6. An employee does not accumulate sick leave credits while on an unpaid leave of absence.

5.5.3 Pro-Ration of Accumulated Sick Leave

Initial entitlement and accumulation of sick leave as specified in the preceding section assume full-time appointment of 9 months or more. Eligible part-time annual/academic basis appointees have an initial entitlement and earn sick leave in proportion to the extent of their appointment.

5.5.3.1 Accumulated Sick Leave Conversion Benefit

Accumulated sick leave is converted at the current rate of pay to an account to pay health insurance premiums upon the retirement, death or layoff of an insured employee.

5.5.4 Sick Leave During Summer Session

Staff members whose basic appointments are for nine months or more and who teach in the summer session may qualify for sick leave in the summer session, provided inception of the illness occurs on the first or subsequent day of the summer session. Visiting faculty, if not covered by sick leave provisions at their home institutions, are covered during the summer session provided their appointments at the University extend for at least nine months in addition to the summer session term. Exceptions to this policy regarding sick leave during the summer session may be made, on behalf of members of the permanent faculty only, at the discretion of the Chancellor.

5.5.5 Amount of Sick Leave to be Charged

Instructional staff must define their forty-hour week and report sick leave usage accordingly. Colleague coverage can only be used for teaching responsibilities. Sick leave and colleague coverage should be reported in half-day increments for full-time staff (pro-rated for part-time staff). Absences of 2 hours up to 6 hours shall be charged as 4 hours. Absences of 6 hours up to 10 hours shall be charged as eight hours. For absences of one week, a maximum of 40 hours shall be charged. 

Example:  A teaching faculty member is called away to a funeral on a Friday.  The faculty member manages to secure colleague coverage for a two-hour class on Friday.  Assuming the faculty member is gone all of Friday, 4 hours of colleague coverage and 4 hours of sick time should be reported on their monthly leave accounting sheet for that day.

5.5.6 Cancellation and Reinstatement

If the employee leaves employment with the University of Wisconsin System other than through retirement or death, unused sick leave will be terminated but will be reinstated if the employee is reappointed to any position within the System within three years.

5.5.7 Faculty with Teaching Responsibilities

In a semester in which a faculty member has teaching responsibilities and is entitled to use sick leave, the provisions of this policy shall be modified as follows:

  1. If a faculty member's duties are assumed by colleagues for the duration of the semester, as has been the traditional way of covering teaching responsibilities, the absent individual is still required to use sick leave for the teaching responsibilities until the end of the semester in which the absence began. Note: UPG 10.4 (2) states: “Teaching responsibilities not met because of an absence specified in UWS 19.01, Wis. Adm. Code, must be reported as leave, regardless of whether a qualified instructor covers the aforementioned responsibilities. Teaching responsibilities include class time preparation, actual classroom instruction, and scheduled office hours available to students for educational guidance.”
  2. If a replacement is appointed to assume the faculty member's responsibilities he or she must use sick leave.

5.5.8 Use of Sick Leave for Anticipated Medical Absence

In order to minimize disruption of the academic program and the attendant demands on students and staff, a faculty member who has teaching responsibilities and who expects absence under this policy during an upcoming semester may, with two months' advance notice, elect to receive a combination of paid and unpaid leave for the entire semester. Such leave will be taken only at the option of the faculty member, but the University may require proof at the time two month's notice is given that the anticipated absence cannot be arranged so as to avoid interruption of teaching duties. Under this clause the faculty member may receive sick leave benefits for which he or she would have been eligible had he or she remained on duty up to the time of disability. Other portions of the semester not covered by sick leave will be leave without pay.

5.5.9 Sick Leave Usage

5.5.9.1 Medical Absences

Employees who have accrued sick leave under UWS 19 are eligible to use such sick leave for periods of absence from employment, as follows:

  1. For absences due to personal illness, injury, disability or pregnancy or adoption
  2. For attendance upon an immediate family member whose health or medical condition requires the employee's direct care
  3. For the death of an immediate family member.

5.5.9.2 Care of Family Member

Use of sick leave for temporary care of immediate family members, certified by a physician, is limited to 10 work days per year; however, the use of sick leave may be extended to cover unusual circumstances, provided prior approval is obtained from the Chancellor.

5.5.9.3 Parental Leave

In accordance with the requirements of s. 103.10, Wisconsin Statutes, employees who have accrued sick leave under UWS 19 are eligible to substitute up to thirty days of such paid leave in any 12-month period for periods of absence from employment for parental leave as follows:

  1. For the birth of the employee's natural child, if the leave begins within 16 weeks of the child's birth; or
  2. For the placement of a child with the employee for adoption or a precondition to adoption under section 48.90, Wisconsin Statutes, but not both, if the leave begins within 16 weeks of the child's placement.

Anticipated use of sick leave for parental leave shall be scheduled in accordance with institutional, departmental or unit policies and procedures for requesting leave of absence. Parental leave may be taken in non-continuous increments. The duration of the shortest increment available is one-half day.

5.5.10 Maternity Leave

Provisions governing maternity leave do not differ from policies governing other temporary disabilities. A teaching or non-teaching staff member may opt to continue her normal duties through pregnancy using accumulated sick leave as needed for prenatal, delivery and post-delivery care while physically unable to perform her duties. After the disability period, parental leave may be used. Thereafter, she may take consecutive days or the remainder of the semester as unpaid leave taken at her option. Maternity and/or parental leave are paid leave only when there is a sufficient sick leave accumulation. A member of the faculty with teaching responsibility, alternatively, may opt to receive a combination of paid and unpaid leave as provided in "Use of Sick Leave for Anticipated Medical Absences." In such cases, it shall be understood that the timing of pregnancy cannot be "arranged" under the meaning of this policy.

In the semester after the one in which the delivery occurs, irrespective of her medical condition, the staff member shall be granted, upon her request, leave without pay for the semester. In the case of a non-tenured faculty member, such leave will not be counted in the calculation of probationary time. A female staff member who anticipates taking leave for maternity should so inform her chair or supervisor as early as possible.

5.5.11 Definition of Family Members

The following definitions are used in implementing sick leave policies:

  • Child means a natural, adopted or foster child, stepchild, or legal ward who is less than 18 years of age or 18 years of age or older and unable to care for himself or herself because of a serious health condition.
  • Family member includes an employee's and employee's spouse's immediate family members, grandparents, grandchildren, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters and their spouses, children over the age of 18 and their spouses and any other relative who resides in the same household as the employee.
  • Grandchild means the child of a child.
  • Grandparent means the parent of a parent.
  • Immediate family member means the spouse, parents and children of an employee.
  • Parent means a natural parent, foster parent, adoptive parent, stepparent or legal guardian of an employee or employee's spouse.
  • Spouse means an employee's legal husband or wife or equivalent.
  • Year refers to the academic year for academic year basis appointments, and the fiscal year for annual basis appointments. One semester of an academic year appointment is equivalent to one-half of an annual basis appointment.

5.5.12 Colleague Coverage in Lieu of Sick Leave

Teaching responsibilities not met because of an absence as defined in UWS 19.01 Wis. Adm. Code, and covered by colleagues, will be reported in units of one-half days as specified in section 10.04. Such coverage exists during the semester in which the absence commences (Regent Resolution #506). In the following semester, an unclassified employee who continues to be absent as defined in UWS 19.01 Wis. Adm. Code, will not be eligible for colleague coverage, but will be required to use one of the other three options listed in the next section, "Options for Absences Specified in UWS 19."  

Unclassified employees with less than 50% of their assigned responsibilities eligible for colleague coverage can record colleague coverage for only the eligible portion. Paid leave or leave without pay is to be charged for the balance of the appointment which is not eligible for colleague coverage. 

Reference Document: Board of Regents' Sick Leave Policy - June 1973

5.5.13 Options for Absences Specified in UWS 19

When an unclassified employee is absent for a reason specified in UWS 19, the following options may be used to cover the absence:

  1. charge sick leave against accumulated sick leave earnings;
  2. charge paid leave (vacation or floating legal holiday) credits; or
  3. charge leave without pay if sick leave, floating legal holiday and vacation are not available.

5.5.14 Reporting Sick Leave

UW System unclassified employees must file a written report with the unit recordkeeper once each month detailing sick leave used. A report must be filed even if no sick leave is used.

As the recordkeeper for UW-River Falls, the Human Resources office will send a sick leave report to each employee once each month. The employee must complete and sign the report, and the department chair, designee or director (supervisor) signs the report and returns it to the Human Resources office.

Departmental chairs, deans, and others responsible for sick leave records should establish review procedures and challenge any claims which appear out of line. Reference documents: Board of Regents' Sick Leave Policy - June 1973; Wisconsin Statutes Sections 36.30, 103.10, and 40.05(4)(b); Wisconsin Administrative Code UWS 19 and 15.01; Unclassified Personnel Guidelines 9 and 10

5.5.15 Federal Family Medical Leave Act

The Federal Family Medical Leave Act provides eligible employees with up to 12 work weeks per twelve-month period of job-protected leave with continued medical benefits for the following reasons: to care for the employee’s newborn son or daughter, because of adoption or foster placement of a child with the employee, to care for the employee’s spouse, son or daughter, or parent who has a serious health condition, or because of the employee’s own serious health condition.

The Wisconsin FMLA annually provides for six weeks for the birth, placement or adoption of a child, two weeks for the care of a seriously ill child, spouse, parent or spouse’s parent, and two weeks for an employee’s own serious health condition. Such leave would run concurrent with leave under the Federal FMLA. In both instances, leave is unpaid but employees may substitute available sick or vacation time. Employees need to continue to pay their health insurance premiums while on leave. The Acts guarantee that employees on leave may return to the position held prior to leave or an equivalent position at the same or equivalent rate of pay and benefits.

For information on notification and eligibility, information on how the twelve-month period is determined, the definition of “serious health condition,” and information on medical certifications, please contact the Human Resources Department. Extensive information is also available on the Human Resources website, under “Human Resource Basics.”