Absences from Work

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

General

Employees who have been employed for at least one (1) year and for at least 1,250 hours during the preceding 12-month period are eligible for family and medical leave. The Department of Labor requires employers to choose one of four (4) methods for determining the 12-month period during which an employee may use 12 weeks of FMLA leave. The university has selected the “rolling” 12-month period, which measures backward from the date an employee uses any FMLA leave. For employees not eligible for family and medical leave, the university will review business considerations, other leave options, and the individual circumstances involved. Except for those employees designated as “highly compensated employees,” employees will be returned to the same or to an equivalent position. The reemployment issue for “highly compensated employees” will be reviewed on a case by case basis.

Family or medical leave will consist of appropriate accrued paid leave and unpaid leave. If leave is requested, the employee must use all of his or her accrued paid vacation leave (salaried employees) or accrued PLT (hourly employees). The remainder of the leave period will then consist of unpaid leave unless the employee qualifies for short term disability benefits. In some cases, FMLA and STD benefits will run concurrent and it will not be necessary to use vacation time or PLT. This is reviewed on a case by case basis.

Reason for Leave 

All employees who meet the applicable time of service requirements may be granted family or medical leave consisting of appropriate accrued paid leave and unpaid leave, for a period of twelve (12) weeks (during any 12-month period) for the following reasons:

  • the birth of the employee’s child and in order to care for the child;
  • the placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care;
  • to care for a spouse, child or parent who has a serious health condition; or
  • a serious health condition that renders the employee incapable of performing the functions of his or her job.

The entitlement leave for the birth or placement of a child for adoption or foster care will expire twelve (12) months from the date of the birth or placement.

Procedure for Requesting Leave 

FMLA and short-term disability benefits are administered through Sun Life, which specializes in reviewing, approving, processing and tracking short-term disability and FMLA leave requests with the oversight of expert medical and legal staff.

You can file a claim over the phone or online.  To begin the process of filing a claim, please contact Sun Life and FMLASource in one of the ways below:

  • Phone:  877-SUN-LIFE (877-786-3652)
  • TDD:  800-697-0353
  • Fax:  877-309-0218
  • Online:  https://fmla.sunlife-usa.com  (Your Employee Number is your UST ID number)

Benefits Coverage During Leave 

During a period of family or medical leave, an employee will be retained on the university medical plan under the same conditions that applied before leave commenced. To continue medical coverage, the employee must continue to make any contributions that he or she made to the plan before taking leave. The same holds true for other university benefits programs.

An employee is not entitled to the accrual of any seniority or employment benefits that would have occurred if not for the taking of leave. An employee who takes family or medical leave will not lose any employment benefits that accrued before the date leave began.

Restoration of Employment Following Leave
 

An employee eligible for family and medical leave—with the exception of those employees designated as “highly compensated employees”—will be restored to his or her old position or to a position of equivalent pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment. Prior to returning to work, the employee must submit a “Fitness for Duty” form to the Benefits Specialist. The university cannot guarantee that an employee will be returned to his or her original job. A determination as to whether a position is an “equivalent position” will be made by the university.

An employee eligible for family and medical leave—with the exception of those employees designated as “highly compensated employees”—will be restored to his or her old position or to a position of equivalent pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment.  Prior to returning to work, the employee must submit a “Fitness for Duty” form to the Benefits Specialist.  The university cannot guarantee that an employee will be returned to his or her original job.  A determination as to whether a position is an “equivalent position” will be made by the university.

Family Emergency / Parental Leave (See Family Medical Leave Act)

The University of St. Thomas recognizes that there may be times when it is necessary for an employee to be absent from work in order to address a critical family matter that may not be covered by other university leave policies.  All regular employees are eligible to request a Family Emergency/Parental Leave.  (Union members must refer to their union contract.)  To assist employees in meeting these family obligations, the University will provide the following:

Family Emergency Leave

An employee can request up to two weeks of paid leave for a serious family emergency requiring the employee's immediate assistance.  For purpose of this benefit, "family" is defined as employee’s spouse, son or daughter, parents, or persons defined as "dependents" by the IRS for tax purposes.  Paid leave for a serious family emergency shall be granted after the employee has used all of his/her PLT or vacation leave time.

Parental Leave

An employee can request up to two weeks of paid leave in conjunction with the birth or adoption of a child.  In the case of a birth mother, the additional two weeks shall be granted after the employee’s disability benefits have ended.  A birth father or adoptive parent may request leave no sooner than two (2) weeks prior to the expected delivery/arrival date and no later than six (6) weeks after the birth or adoption.  If both parents are employed by UST and are eligible for parental leave benefits, they may either share one parental leave (e.g., each parent takes one week parental leave) or they may designate one parent to take the leave.

Procedure for Requesting Leave

All requests for family emergency/parental leave must be in writing (e-mail is preferable) and should include the following information:

  1. Reason for family emergency/parental leave.
  2. Requested leave time (dates or approximate dates if unknown).

The written request should be sent to the Benefits Specialist in the Human Resources Department located in AQU217 or e-mailed to benefits@stthomas.edu.  The Benefits Specialist will obtain the approval of employee’s department head and appropriate academic and administrative leader.

Limitations

No more than one Family Emergency/Parental Leave will be granted per rolling year, e.g. if you request a parental or family emergency leave effective March 1, 2009, you are ineligible to do so again until March 1, 2010.  In addition, a family emergency leave is permitted for a specific situation occurring at a specific point in time.  Employees may not take this type of leave on an incremental basis.  Under this policy, the types of emergencies covered generally require an employee to use the family emergency leave in one block of time but not spread it out over several weeks or months.

[Note: This leave may be counted toward an employee’s FMLA leave as set forth by the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).  FMLA requires covered employers to grant eligible employees up to 12 weeks of leave per year for the birth or adoption of a child, to care for a spouse or an immediate family member with a serious health condition, or for the employee's own serious health condition.  The FMLA does not require that this time be paid—although the leave of absence under the Family Emergency/Parental Leave policy provides employees paid time off.]

Funeral Leave

Regular part-time and full-time salaried and hourly paid employees are provided a maximum of three days paid leave for the death, funeral, or estate settlement of a member of the employee’s immediate family.  Immediate family members are defined as the employee’s spouse, father, mother, stepfather, stepmother, children, stepchildren, father-in-law, mother-in-law, brother and sister.

Eligible employees are provided one day paid leave to attend the funeral of grandparents, grandchildren, brother-in-law, or sister-in-law.

Employees who wish to take more than the number of days allotted for funeral leave as detailed above, may use vacation, PLT, or leave without pay for the additional time with prior supervisory approval.

Employees who wish to take more time off work for the funeral of someone other than the family members described above, may take vacation, PLT, or time without pay for that absence.

Hourly Employees Purchased Leave Time Program

The hourly employees purchased leave time program (HEPLT) provides additional paid time off to eligible employees who need or want a few extra days beyond their normal paid leave time (PLT) accrual.  With HEPLT, employees are able to purchase time off in full day increments up to five (5) days or 40 hours in a calendar year in return for a pro-rated reduction in their salary.  This provides employees with a steady, reduced income and additional leave.  While HEPLT may provide employees with time to spend with their families during holidays, it may also mean that an employee has time to pursue a particular hobby or further study.  Please consult the HEPLT Summary Plan Description on the Human Resources website for additional information.  HEPLT is available to new employees and each year during annual enrollment.

Inclement Weather Closing

In order to ensure continuity of services to students and the public, the University of St. Thomas rarely closes.  It recognizes, however, that severe weather conditions or other emergencies may require the University to close or cease parts of its campus operations.  Should this occur, the University will follow the guidelines provided below.

  • The University administration maintains a weather emergency tele-chain communication network.  This network is activated by the Executive Vice President / Chief Academic Officer.  Supervisors and managers who are notified of the closing by their immediate supervisor shall, in turn, notify each employee who reports directly to them of the decision.
  • Since the timing of a campus closing decision is important, as students, faculty, and/or staff may already be in route to the campus, the University will make the decision by 6 a.m., whenever possible.
  • WCCO Radio (AM 830) is designated as the official closing notification station.  WCCO is a “clear channel” station and its signal can be clearly received by all radio listeners in the Twin Cities metro area.  All students, staff, and faculty will know exactly what decision has been made if they listen to WCCO Radio.  The station will continue to update all closing information between 6:00 and 8:00 a.m.
  • In addition to WCCO, the University will notify several television stations and other radio stations of the closing decision.  They, in turn, will broadcast the closing information.
  • A community wide message will also be enacted in each voice mail box as well as on the university’s switchboard announcing the official closing.
  • When the University is officially closed, all classes are canceled, and all administrative offices are closed for the day.  If the inclement weather subsides as the day progresses, evening classes and activities will continue as scheduled, if the decision is announced on WCCO Radio.  This decision will be made no later than 4:00 p.m.

Emergency Essential Personnel

During a campus closing, employees working in emergency essential areas or functions are required to report to work.  Emergency essential personnel are employees who have been designated as vital to the operation of the University during emergencies, whose presence is required regardless of the existence of an emergency, and whose absence from duty could endanger the safety and well-being of the campus population and/or the university’s physical facilities.  Below is a list of the positions and/or functions that meets the definition of emergency essential areas.

  • Public Safety Officers
  • Certain Physical Plant employees, such as Physical Plant managers, building service workers, grounds workers, shift supervisors and manager, maintenance mechanics, and electricians
  • IRT Server Administrators
  • Food Service Workers

Please note that during the fall and spring semesters when the University is officially closed due to inclement weather, the O’Shaughnessy-Frey Library Center and the Ireland Library will attempt to be open with a limited staff.

Employees working in positions designated as "emergency essential" are expected to remain at work if the campus closes during their regular work schedule, or to report to work if the campus closing announcement is made before their regular work schedule begins.

Staff Compensation During an Emergency Closing

With some exceptions, as noted below, the University provides an authorized paid absence from work to those employees whose positions are not listed as “emergency essential” and who were scheduled to work on the day of the emergency closing.  Other employees are compensated as follows.

  • Regular staff whose positions are designated “emergency essential” shall receive pay for hours actually worked the day of the emergency closing in addition to their regular pay for all scheduled work hours that day.
  • Regular staff scheduled to work, except those in positions designated as “emergency essential personnel” are not required to call in or report to work when the University is closed and will receive their regular base rate of pay for hours scheduled.  Part-time employees will be paid for the number of hours previously scheduled to work.
  • Staff represented by a union will be compensated according to the terms of their collective bargaining agreements.
  • Employees not scheduled to work on the day of the emergency closing will not be paid for that day.  Part-time employees will be paid for the number of hours previously scheduled to work.
  • Hourly employees who staff the libraries will be paid for hours actually worked the day of the closing in addition to regular pay for hours scheduled to work that day.
  • Employees who are on approved vacation leave when a University closing is declared are not eligible for the paid emergency closing day.  Likewise, employees who previously requested and received approval to take any type of paid or unpaid leave of absence (such as vacation, PLT, etc) shall not be compensated for the emergency closing.
  • Employees who are unable to report to work due to weather conditions but during times when the University is open may use vacation, Paid Leave Time (PLT), or take an unpaid leave of absence.  However, the University expects employees to make a good faith effort to report to work during inclement weather if the University has not declared an emergency closing.

Jury Duty

Employees who are called to serve on jury duty or are serving as a witness in answer to a subpoena or other court order (unless the proceeding involves a personal or family matter), will be provided the time off with pay, up to a maximum of two weeks.  This time off will not be charged against the employee’s vacation/PLT time.  Employees may request unpaid leave for jury duty that exceeds two weeks.

For the period in which the employee receives paid leave, money received for jury duty or for serving as a witness must be given to the University’s Payroll Department.  Employees are not required to turn in money received for food, lodging and transportation expenses.

Employees who are required to appear in court in personal legal proceeding must take vacation/PLT time or a leave of absence without pay, unless the legal proceeding has a direct relationship to the employee’s position at the University of St. Thomas. 

Maternity Leave

Maternity leave will be available for eligible employees under the short-term disability plan.  If applicable, an employee may take vacation, sick leave, PLT, Family Emergency/Parental Leave, or leave without pay until she is eligible to receive payment for the short-term disability plan.  Maternity leave under the short-term disability plan commences when the employee is medically unable to work, and continues after the date of delivery until the employee's physician indicates the employee is medically able to return to work, which is typically six weeks after the birth of the child.  Leave beyond the initial disability leave may be granted in accordance with the Family Emergency/Parental Leave Policy, and other arrangements the employee may make with her supervisor to use vacation time, PLT, or unpaid leave.

Military Leave

If you are a member of the National Guard or organized reserves, you are eligible for required military training leave each year.  The university will reimburse you for the difference between your military training pay and your regular university salary for up to two (2) weeks per year.  Military training leave not exceeding two (2) weeks annually will be provided in addition to your regular vacation.

Military leave in excess of two (2) weeks annually will be considered a leave of absence without pay and will be handled according to the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA).  The university will not reimburse you for the difference between your military pay and your regular university salary for leaves that exceed two (2) weeks.  

Religious Observances

Supervisors will grant time off for the observance of religious holidays that are not observed by the university, provided the employee requests the time off at least two weeks in advance.

Such time off will be unpaid unless a personal leave day or accrued vacation or PLT is used. Rearrangement of the employee’s schedule may be possible instead of unpaid time off with prior supervisory approval.

School Conference Leave

Employees are eligible for unpaid leave of up to 16 hours per year to attend a child's school activities, including attendance at or monitoring of child care, pre kindergarten conferences or activities, or musical and sporting events, if the conference or classroom activity cannot be scheduled during non-working hours.  The employee must notify the supervisor prior to taking time off.  The employee may use accumulated vacation or PLT for this time.

Sick Leave

Hourly Paid Employees

See Benefits Section, Paid Leave Time (PLT).

Salaried Employees

  • Full and part-time salaried employees do not accrue sick leave.  They may be absent due to illness or injury for up to a maximum of five (5) consecutive days without loss of pay.  The Benefit Specialist in the Department of Human Resources should be notified of any absence longer than five (5) days.
  • Additionally, Minnesota State Statute provides that "an employee may use personal sick leave benefits provided by the employer for absences due to an illness of or injury to the employee’s child for such reasonable periods as the employee’s attendance with the child may be necessary on the same terms the employee is able to use sick leave benefits for the employee’s own illness or injury.”

All Employees

  • Employees absent from work for five consecutive days due to illness or injury must apply for short-term disability by submitting a medical provider’s statement which includes the following information:
    • confirm that the employee is under the care of the medical provider;
    • diagnosis and nature of care being provided;
    • date of onset of illness or injury;
    • date the employee was seen for the current condition;
    • whether or not the employee is totally disabled and incapable of working;
    • expected date of return to work.
  • Supervisors may require an employee to provide a written statement to the Benefit Specialist in the Department of Human Resources from a medical provider each time the employee is out sick, regardless of the length of the absence.

Unpaid Leave

There are some situations when an employee may feel it is necessary to be away from work for an extended period of time.  Before an employee can request an unpaid leave of absence all available paid leave time (such as vacation, PLT, floating holiday, disability, and family emergency/parental leave) must be depleted.

Except in situations where there is a clear, urgent emergency, requests for unpaid leave should be made in writing to the employee’s supervisor at least 30 days prior to the expected start of the leave.

The final decision concerning the request will be made by the department head in conjunction with the Vice President for the area and the appropriate person(s) in the Department of Human Resources.

During an unpaid leave of absence that is shorter than 2 months, the employee will be required to pay the employee cost of his/her benefits.  The balance of the fringe benefits will be continued by the university.  For unpaid leaves that are longer than 2 months, COBRA is triggered.  The employee will be required to pay for the full cost of any fringe benefits they would like to continue during the leave, effective the first day of the month following the start of the leave.

Voluntary Unpaid Leave of Absence

As part of the University’s ongoing efforts to control and reduce cost, it has adopted a voluntary unpaid leave of absence program.  This program affords staff members the opportunity to take time off without pay.  All unpaid leaves granted under this program must be initiated by the employee, approved by the employee’s department head and appropriate academic and administrative leader, and taken on a voluntary basis.

Voting Leave

Employees may be absent from work for the purpose of voting in state and presidential primaries, as well as in state general elections and congressional elections.  Time spent during morning work hours for voting on the way to work will be paid by the university; leaving work early to vote will not be paid.

Employees who serve as an election judge must give their supervisor 20 days written notice of their expected absence from work for this purpose.  Employees serving as an election judge will be allowed the time off with pay, provided documentation is received from the appointing authority that verifies the actual hours served in this capacity.  In turn, compensation received as an election judge must be signed over to the university.