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UW Disability Leave Policy
Classified and Professional Staff


This policy defines disability leave, and establishes the disability leave allowance for classified staff and professional staff.

Definition of Disability Leave

“Disability leave” is an approved leave of absence from a position when, due to an employee’s own medical condition, the employee cannot perform the position’s essential functions, with or without reasonable accommodation. Disability leave is not a separate type of accrued leave, but a description of the reason for which a leave of absence may be approved.

A disability leave may be a form of reasonable accommodation under the University’s Policy on Reasonable Accommodation of Employees with Disabilities. Employees on disability leave use paid and unpaid leave as described under “Disability Leave Allowance” and “Disability Leave – Leave Use” below.

Disability Leave Allowance

The disability leave allowance is the amount of disability leave that is available, as medically necessary, when an employee has a disability that prevents the employee from working in his or her position. The disability leave allowance is established as the greater of either:

  1. The amount of paid time off work that would be provided by the employee’s accumulated annual leave, sick leave, compensatory time, and personal holiday (If an employee is eligible to intersperse paid and unpaid leave during a disability leave, doing so does not extend the total length of the disability leave allowance.) or,
  2. Nine months of combined paid and unpaid leave, including donated shared leave.

If an employee exhausts the disability leave allowance, the University assesses the employee’s ability to return to work with or without reasonable accommodation, which may include placement in an alternative position. If the employee will be unable to return to work at least 50% time in the employee’s current or an alternate position, in the reasonably foreseeable future, the employee may be separated from University employment in accordance with applicable policies, collective bargaining agreements, civil service rules, and state or other law.

Recurring Disability/Return to Work

If an employee returns to work following a disability leave, but is unable to remain at work or is unable to report to work on a regular basis because of medical reasons, a new 9-month “disability leave allowance” does not start. The University will consult with the employee as part of the accommodation process and determine what action to take based on the employee’s individual situation.

Disability Leave - Leave Use

An employee’s use of paid and unpaid leave while on a disability leave of absence must be in accordance with the terms of the employment program, collective bargaining agreement, and/or the civil service rules that apply to the employee’s appointment.

Some or all of the period of time on disability leave may be covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). FMLA-covered leave is concurrent with, and not in addition to, the disability leave allowance.

Insurance Coverage

An employee who meets Family and Medical Leave Act eligibility requirements will have University-paid basic insurance coverage continue during a disability leave of absence up to the employee's Family and Medical Leave eligibility limit under University policy. The maximum Family and Medical Leave eligibility for a personal health condition is twelve weeks unless this time has been reduced by previous Family and Medical Leave use during the designated 12-month period.

An employee on an approved disability leave of absence who is not eligible for Family and Medical Leave Act coverage (or has exhausted his/her FMLA eligibility), and who normally receives University-paid insurance benefits, will continue to receive University paid basic insurance coverage during any month in which the employee is in “pay status" for at least eight hours. Using eight hours of sick leave, annual leave, shared leave, personal holiday, or compensatory time qualifies as being in “pay status.” As described above, an employee’s use of paid and unpaid leave while on disability leave must be in accordance with the terms of the applicable employment program policies, collective bargaining agreement, civil service rules, and state or other laws.

Related Information

Leave to care for a family member with a serious medical condition is not considered a disability leave of absence, but may be covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act.