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Life Events
Serious Illness & Disability - Leave Planning


If you have to miss work because you or a family member has a serious health condition, and you have accrued paid leave or compensatory time, you will generally be able to use your paid leave to cover the time off work that you will need. If you have to care for someone other than a defined family member, like a close friend or a distant relative, you may only be able to use annual leave, and possibly leave without pay.

If you do not have enough paid leave to cover your absence, you may need to take leave without pay. Employees who are covered by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act are guaranteed up to 12 weeks of time away from work because of a serious health condition or to care for a family member with a serious health condition (see sidebar for FMLA eligibility). If your supervisor is going to designate your leave as covered by the FMLA, you will receive a letter that explains your rights under the FMLA.

If you meet FMLA eligibility requirements and have to care for a seriously ill or injured family member who is a member of the active duty armed forces, you may be eligible for up to 26 weeks of FMLA protected leave. This entitlement is not in addition to the 12 weeks of FMLA described in the previous paragraph. For example, if you have already used 12 weeks of FMLA leave for parental leave, you would only be eligible for 14 weeks of FMLA leave to care for the service member in the same year.

If you do not have enough paid leave to cover your absence, you may also be eligible to receive shared leave donated by other employees. The shared leave program allows employees to donate some of their own sick or annual leave to another employee who has run out of paid leave because of their own serious health condition, or because they have to care for a family member with a serious health condition. There are eligibility requirements that have to be met in order for employees to be able to donate or receive shared leave.

Health Care Provider Certification of the Need for Leave

The University is permitted to obtain health care provider certification of an employee's need for leave. You will be notified when such certification is required. Medical documents, including completed health care provider certification forms, should be submitted to the unit's Human Resources Operations Office and not to your supervisor.

Medical information is confidential and you are not required to disclose the nature of your own or a family member's medical condition to your supervisor.


Use the "Serious Health Condition Leave Planning" worksheet to help you plan for your time away from work. The worksheet will help you record how much paid leave you will have to cover time off work, and whether you will receive employer paid insurance while on leave.

Request time off Work

Follow your department’s normal request procedures to request leave. Provide as much advance notice of the need for leave as possible. If at least 30 days advance notice is not possible, employees should request leave as soon as they know they will need to be away from work. If the need for leave is because of an emergency, employees must provide notification as required by the employee's department. In the absence of a department requirement, employees must notify their supervisor or department administrator before leaving the workplace.

Requests for leave because of a personal health condition may also involve disability leave, disability accommodation, and shared leave. To ensure that you have complete and accurate information about your rights and options, you should consider consulting with your department administrator, your department's Human Resources Consultant (HRC), the UW Benefits & Work/Life Office, the UW Work/Life Office and your union representative if covered by a collective bargaining agreement.

Health Care Provider Certification

Be prepared to submit certification from your health care provider of your need for because of a personal health condition, or from your family member’s health care provider if you are requesting time off to care for the family member.

Health Insurance Continuation

Determine whether you may need to self pay to retain health insurance coverage. If you have questions about your ability to retain employer paid health insurance coverage, visit the Serious Health Condition Insurance webpage or contact the Benefits & Work/Life office as soon as you can.

Learn More

Disability Accommodation
Disability Leave
Benefits & Work/Life
Long-term Disability Insurance


Family member means the employee's spouse or same or opposite sex domestic partner; child; parent; grandparent; grandchild; sister; or brother. Family member also includes individuals in the following relationships with the employee's spouse or domestic partner: child, parent, or grandparent. It also includes those persons in a “step” relationship.

A prospective parent is generally covered by the FMLA if the employee has worked for UW or the State of Washington at least 60 % FTE for at least one year, and has not already used the annual 12 week FMLA leave entitlement.

Specifically, a prospective parent is covered by the FMLA if the employee has 12 months of cumulative state service, has worked for the state for at least 1,250 hours, including overtime, in the 12 months immediately preceding the date the FMLA leave will begin. and has not already used the current year's 12 week FMLA leave entitlement.