Serious Illness and Disability Leave for Faculty
Initially Approved: October 2005
Posted: December 9, 2005
Revised: February 22, 2016
Policy Topic: Personnel
Administering Offices: Provost's Office; Human Resources and Payroll
I. POLICY STATEMENT
It is the policy of Western Carolina University (“WCU” or the “University”) to provide
its faculty with job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons in accordance
with University of North Carolina (“UNC”) policies 300.2.11 and 300.2.11[G], the Family
and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (“FMLA”), and the North Carolina Family Illness Leave
Policy (“OSHR Policy”) .
II. SCOPE AND INTERPRETATION
This policy shall apply to all faculty who are exempt from the North Carolina Human
Resources Act, subject to the eligibility requirements set forth in Section III of
this policy. This policy is to be interpreted and administered in accordance with
applicable provisions of UNC policy, the FMLA, and the OSHR Policy, as amended from
time to time.
III . ELIGIBILITY
Faculty members are eligible for leave under this policy if they: (1) do not accrue
sick leave and are eligible to participate in the N.C. Teachers’ and State Employees’
Retirement System or the UNC Optional Retirement Program (i.e., continuing faculty
who are employed at least 75% of full-time); and (2) are eligible for family and medical leave under the provisions of FMLA (i.e.,
who have been employed at least 1 year and have worked at least 1,040 hours within
the last 12 months).
IV. DURATION AND NATURE OF LEAVE
An eligible faculty member may request leave with full pay and benefits for up to
1 semester, or 12 weeks over 2 consecutive semesters, exclusive of academic breaks,
for any of the following conditions:
- The birth of a child and/or to exercise primary responsibility for the care of the
newborn child within 1 year of birth (an expectant mother may take leave before the
birth of the child for prenatal care or if her condition makes her unable to work
or requires a reduced work schedule);
- To exercise primary responsibility for care of a child under the age of 5 who is placed
with the faculty member for adoption or foster care, provided that the leave is taken
immediately following placement (leave may be granted before the actual placement
or adoption of a child if an absence from work is required for the placement for adoption
or foster care to proceed);
- To exercise primary responsibility for the care of the faculty member’s child, spouse
or domestic partner or parent who has a serious health condition;
- A serious health condition that makes the faculty member unable to perform the essential
functions of his or her job; or
- Any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the faculty member’s spouse,
child or parent is a covered military member on covered active duty or has been notified
of an impending call to active duty (or 26 workweeks of leave during a single 12-month
period to care for a covered military member with a serious injury or illness if the
eligible employee is the military member’s spouse, son, daughter, parent or next of
V. APPLICATION PROCEDURE
A. Submission of Leave Request to Department Head
When a faculty member finds it necessary to take such leave, a request in writing
must be submitted to the department head, or immediate supervisor if the faculty member’s
unit does not have a department head, stating (i) the reason for the leave of absence;
(ii) the requested start date and anticipated end date; and (iii) if applicable, the
requested intermittent leave or reduced workload. Requests should be submitted at
least 60 days in advance of the leave start date or as soon as practicable after the
need for the lease is foreseeable. Certification of the faculty member’s serious health
condition, including a physician’s statement about the probable length of absence
from normal duties, will be required by the Benefits Manager in the Office of Human
Resources and Payroll. If the leave request is for the purpose of caring for a family
member or dependent, the Benefits Manager may request medical certification of that
person’s serious health condition as well as other applicable information.
B. Approval of Leave
Following review of the faculty member’s request and related documentation and consultation
with the Benefits Manager, the department head or immediate supervisor will make his/her
recommendation to the dean concerning whether to grant the faculty member’s leave
request. The dean is responsible for either approving or denying the leave request.
The dean must provide his/her written decision to the faculty member, with a copy
to the Benefits Manager, within 14 calendar days from receipt of the leave request.
If the dean denies the faculty member’s request, the written decision must include
the grounds for denial.
C. Appeal of Dean’s Decision
A faculty member may appeal the dean’s denial of a leave request by submitting a written
appeal to the provost within 7 calendar days from receipt of the denial. The appeal
should include the grounds for appeal. Following review of the relevant documents
and consultation with the department head/immediate supervisor, dean, and Benefits
Manager, the provost must meet with the faculty member to discuss the appeal. The
provost must provide his/her written decision to the faculty member, with a copy to
the Benefits Manager, within 7 calendar days of the meeting.
D. Extension of Leave
Upon extraordinary circumstances, a faculty member may request an extension of leave
provided under this policy. Requests should be made in accordance with the procedures
set forth in this Section V. An extension of leave in excess of 1 semester or 12 weeks
over 2 consecutive semesters, if approved, will be leave without pay. Additionally,
a faculty member may consult with the Benefits Manager to determine eligibility for
short-term disability benefits.
VI. COVERAGE OF FACULTY MEMBER’S RESPONSIBILITIES
The department head is responsible for securing, to the extent possible, substitute
personnel/coverage for the duration of the faculty member’s leave. The faculty member
is not responsible for arranging for coverage. If the department head/immediate supervisor
recommends approval of the leave request, he/she must provide a coverage plan to the
dean prior to the commencement of the leave. Any adjustments in work schedules within
the department are at the discretion of the department head with the approval of the
dean and are subject to departmental and institutional needs and resources.
Funding for substitute personnel shall be determined by the dean, upon consultation
with the provost.
The faculty member must provide written notice of his/her expected date of return
at least 30 days in advance of the beginning of the next regular academic term.
VII. EFFECT ON TENURE (TENURE CLOCK) AND COLLEGIAL REVIEW
At the time a request for leave is granted, the faculty member, department head, and
dean will agree in writing whether time spent on leave will count as probationary
service; a 1-year extension of the tenure clock will be the default condition of leave.
A maximum of 2 automatic 1-year extensions of the tenure clock will be granted to
a faculty member under this policy. Notwithstanding the foregoing, a faculty member
may opt out of the automatic 1-year extension to the tenure clock by giving written
notice of such decision to the dean, with a copy to the department head.
Tenured faculty members granted leave under this policy may have his/her 5-year post-tenure
review delayed by a period agreed upon by the faculty member, department head, and
Faculty will not be penalized in their condition of employment because they require
time away from work caused by or related to conditions that necessitated the leave.
The faculty member shall be reinstated to the same position held when the leave began
or one of like pay, benefits, and other conditions of employment.
VIII. HUMAN RESOURCES ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURES
A. Coordination of Benefits
FACULTY MEMBERS WHO NEED LEAVE FOR ANY OF THE REASONS PROVIDED IN SECTION IV OF THIS
POLICY SHOULD CONSULT WITH THE HUMAN RESOURCES BENEFITS MANAGER TO ENSURE COORDINATION
OF ALL OF THE BENEFITS AVAILABLE TO THE FACULTY MEMBER.
All periods of paid leave under this policy will be construed as family and medical
leave under the FMLA. The FMLA entitlement of up to 12 weeks of leave without pay
will run concurrently with any period of paid leave under this policy.
The OSHR Policy allows for an extension of up to 52 weeks of leave without pay during
a 5-year period in cases of serious illness of a child, spouse, or parent.
Employees are eligible for short-term disability benefits under the North Carolina
Disability Income Plan if they have at least one year of contributing membership service
in the North Carolina Teachers' and State Employees' Retirement System or the UNC
Optional Retirement Program earned within the 36 calendar months preceding the disability.
Benefits become payable following a 60-day waiting period from the date of disability
onset. In addition to their eligibility for the North Carolina Disability Income Plan,
faculty should consider enrolling in one of the supplemental disability income plans
available to UNC employees.
B. Miscellaneous Provisions
Unused leave under this policy shall not be accumulated or carried over to another
academic year, allowable as terminal leave payment when the faculty member leaves
the University, or used to extend years of creditable state service for state retirement
Employees with a balance of accrued leave from a previous 12-month appointment must
exhaust that leave before receiving leave under this policy.
The Benefits Manager is responsible for maintaining official University leave records
and related medical documentation.
Communications concerning leave requested or granted under this policy are subject
to the same confidentiality requirements as other personnel records.
Paid leave provided for under this policy has no negative impact on the faculty member’s
other employment benefits; the faculty member’s health insurance coverage is maintained
during the period of leave.
X. POLICY REVIEW
This policy will be reviewed and revised as necessary every 4 years.