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Sick Leave


Sick leave is accrued by all monthly-paid employees, and may be used for such reasons as:

All monthly-paid employees earn sick leave hours for each month of service. The terms and conditions under which an employee accrues and may use sick leave are specified by the terms of the employee’s employment program or collective bargaining agreement. This page provides links to the relevant section of each collective bargaining agreements as well as some general information that is generally applicable.


Approving Requests for Sick Leave Use

If an employee has requested approval to use of their accrued sick leave, consider the following items in order to act on the employee’s sick leave request:

  1. Check the employee’s sick leave balance. If your department uses the Online Work/Leave System (OWLS) to maintain its employees’ leave records and you are authorized to view the employee’s record, log in to OWLS, and review the employee’s sick leave balance. If your department uses another authorized alternative system, check with your department’s timekeeper to verify that the employee has sufficient sick leave to cover the requested leave.
  2. Check the employee’s employment program or collective bargaining agreement to determine whether the employee is eligible to use accrued sick leave.
  3. Provide the employee with written approval in advance of the effective date(s) for use of sick leave. If you are unable to approve the employee’s sick leave use request in advance of the effective date(s), be sure to provide written approval as soon as the employee returns to work.

Other Things to Think About Regarding Sick Leave Administration

Leave accrues at the end of the month in which it is earned and is available for use by eligible employees the following month. Since leave hours do not accrue until the end of the month, they cannot be used until the following month.

Sick leave use should be properly documented and recorded in the employee’s Work/Leave record. As a supervisor, it is important that you ensure that the employee's record of sick leave accrual and use is properly documented either through OWLS or an authorized alternative system.


Employees do not accrue any sick leave hours during any calendar month in which they are on leave without pay status for more than ten (10) working days, including holidays.

Under certain circumstances, sick leave can be used for Eldercare purposes. To learn more about Eldercare, please visit the Taking care of a Loved One page.

To find out more about the Annual Attendance Incentive Program, sometimes referred to as the Sick Leave Buy-Back program, visit the Annual Attendance Incentive Program page. When employees cash out a portion of their sick leave, all converted hours must be deducted from their sick leave balance on the Work/Leave Record.

Employees who have worked previously for the UW or another state agency in monthly-paid appointments may be eligible for adjusted annual leave accrual rates and/or reinstatement of their previous sick leave balance. To learn how employees may request Prior Service Credit, visit the Crediting of Previous Washington State Employment page.

In order for sick leave to be reinstated and for annual leave accrual rates to be adjusted due to prior state service credit, it must be properly recorded in OWLS.

Upon separation from the University, for any reason other than retirement or death (e.g. resignation, layoff, etc.), employees are not paid for sick leave hours.

Upon separation from the University due to either retirement or death, employees are paid for sick leave hours.

For sick leave compensation at the time of retirement or death, departments must determine which budget number(s) to use to pay for the employee’s sick leave. To learn more about the appropriate budget numbers to use, please visit the Sick Leave Payment at Retirement or Death page.

The Shared Leave Program permits state employees who accrue leave to aid other state employees who suffer from, or who have a relative or household member who suffers from an extraordinary or severe illness or injury. An employee may apply to receive or donate accumulated annual leave, sick leave, and/or personal holiday under the University's Shared Leave Program.

Sick Leave Topics