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Professional Staff Leave
Sick Leave


Sick leave is accrued by all monthly-paid professional staff, and may be used in accordance with the UW Professional Staff Program.

A professional staff employee may be required to provide certification by a health care provider verifying absence for health-related reasons.

Sick Leave Accrual

Full-time professional staff employees accrue eight (8) hours (one day) of sick leave per month.

Part-time employees accrue sick leave hours on a prorated basis, based on their monthly FTE (e.g. 100% FTE = 8 hrs/mo., 75% FTE = 6 hrs/mo., 50% FTE = 4 hrs/mo.).

The sick leave accrual rate does not change with length of service. There is no limit on the amount of sick leave that an employee may accrue.

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.

Each professional staff employee's record of sick leave accrual and use is maintained using the Online Work Leave System (OWLS) or an authorized alternative system.

Sick Leave Accrual for Newly Hired Professional Staff

Newly hired professional staff employees who start work on or before the 15th of the month will accrue full leave hours during the first calendar month of employment. Newly hired professional staff employees who start work on or after the 16th of the month do not accrue leave hours for that month; they begin accruing leave hours at the end of the second calendar month of employment.

Sick Leave Accrual for Professional Staff Employees Who Change Status

Sick Leave Accrual when there are Mid-month Changes in FTE
Professional staff employees whose FTE changes during a calendar month will receive leave hours based upon the overall average percent of time worked in the month.

Because the sick leave accrual rate is the same for all employees, there is no change in sick leave accrual for employees who move to another professional staff position.

Leave Accrual - Effect of Leave of Absence Without Pay (LWOP)
Professional staff 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.

Transferring Between Departments or Agencies
A professional staff employee's sick leave balance will transfer with the employee when moving from a staff position in one department to another department within the University. The sick leave balance may also transfer when the employee moves without a break in service to a staff position at another state agency, institution of higher education, or educational service district depending on the specific terms of the new appointment.

Sick Leave Accrual upon Converting from Faculty to Professional Staff
Faculty with at least eight years of University service who convert to professional staff receive 480 hours of sick leave less any sick leave taken during the faculty appointment's last academic year. If the faculty appointment was less than full time, the sick leave balance is prorated. Faculty having less than eight years of service will receive a prorated sick leave balance as determined by the Human Resources Operations Office.

Leave considerations for Cyclic Year Positions
Cyclic or instructional year appointments sometimes begin and end mid-month (e.g., September 16 through June 15). In some instances, employees would not accrue annual leave and sick leave in either the first or last month worked in the cyclic year due to being on leave without pay for more than ten (10) working days in both months. It is intended that employees in cyclic/instructional year appointments receive annual leave and sick leave accrual for the overall number of months worked. For example, a September 16 through June 15 schedule should receive nine (9) months of annual leave and sick leave accrual. In this example, the employee would receive credit in June but not September, provided that the employee is in pay status through the end of the regular appointment in June (i.e., through June 15).

Sick Leave Accrual and Payment for Separating Professional Staff

Separating Employees
Professional staff employees who separate from the University for any reason other than retirement or death (e.g. resignation, layoff, etc.) are not paid for sick leave hours. Employees who separate and then return to a professional staff position within three (3) years may be eligible to reinstate the previous balance of sick leave.

Employees separating from the University due to retirement or death are compensated for their full sick leave balance at 25% of the cash value of the amount of sick leave being paid off.

Professional staff employees who retire have 25% of the cash value of their full sick leave balance placed into a Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association (VEBA) medical expense account. Employees who die while in service have 25% of the cash value of their full sick leave balance paid to their estate.

Converting from Staff Positions to Faculty, Student, or Hourly Positions
Professional staff employees who move to a faculty, student or temporary hourly-paid appointment are not paid for their sick leave balance, and do not have their sick leave balance transfer to the new appointment.

Leave Accrual During an Employee's Last Month of Work
Professional staff employees who separate from UW employment on or after the 16th of the month will accrue full leave hours for the month of separation. Professional staff employees who separate from UW employment prior to the 16th of the month do not accrue any leave hours for the month of separation.

Attendance Incentive Program

In January of each year, an employee whose prior year-end sick leave balance exceeds 480 hours may apply to receive cash compensation for sick leave hours earned in the prior calendar year, minus the amount of sick leave used or donated as shared leave in that year. No sick leave hours may be converted which would reduce the calendar year balance below 480 hours. Payment is at the rate of 25% of the cash value of the total hours converted to compensation and shall be based upon the employee's salary as of January 1. This option is available in January only of each year. See the Attendance Incentive web page for more information.


Requesting use of sick leave

If you would like to use accrued sick leave hours, you will need to consider the following items in order to request and use sick leave:

  1. Determine your sick leave balance. If your department uses OWLS to maintain its employees' leave records, visit the "Vacation and Sick Leave" tab in Employee Self-Service (ESS). If your department uses another authorized alternative system, check with your department's timekeeper.
  2. Follow your department's normal leave request procedures to obtain written approval from your supervisor in advance of the effective date(s) for use of sick leave. If you are unable to obtain approval in advance of the effective date(s), be sure to obtain written approval as soon as you return to work.


The Employee Separation Payment Authorization form, which will be generated when ending an employee's OWLS record, must be completed and submitted to the Payroll Office in order for sick leave compensation to be processed when an employee separates due to retirement or death.

Employees who have worked previously for the UW or for another state agency in monthly-paid positions may be eligible to reinstate their previous balance of sick leave. To learn more about how to request the crediting of Previous Washington State Employment, visit the Prior Service Credit 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.

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

Professional Staff
Leave Topics

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