When unable medically unable to perform your job due to disability and/or illness four separate (but overlapping) questions arise: how to apply for a leave so my job is secure while I am out of work healing, how much job-secured leave am I eligible for, how can I secure my income while on an approved leave and what happens to benefits while on leave.
Period of Leave
You may be eligible for job and benefits protected leave while healing from an illness/injury that makes you unable to perform your job. Your period of leave may be defined by the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), by a University bargaining agreement, University policy and/or state law. You are eligible for the greatest of the benefits dictated by this combination of rules.
Briefly, the FMLA provides up to 12 weeks of leave per year adn requires that you have worked:
- for the University for 12 or more months, and
- no fewer than 1,250 hours in the 12 months preceding your leave.
Your department will provide you will provide you written confirmation of your employment and insurance protections under the FMLA in response to your request for parental leave.
These entitlements provide unpaid job and benefits-protected leave during which you may use various types of accrued time to secure income. Refer to Income While On Leave (below) for more information.
How to apply for leave
In order to apply for leave you must:
Step 1: submit a written, signed, and dated request for leave to your supervisor or departmental Human Resources representative indicating:
- the dates for which you are requesting leave and the date you intend to return to work,
- how you are requesting that time and attendance be submitted if your leave is approved (e.g., accrued sick and/or vacation time, personal time, unpaid leave, etc.), and
- if requesting an intermittent leave, the work schedule you propose.
Step 2: the letter must be accompanied by a Certification of Health Care Provider form completed by the treating physician.
The Certification form differs if it is for your own illness, that of a family member or that of a family member who was injured in service with the U.S. military.
During your leave you must remain in contact with your supervisor about your own or family member’s medical progress and/or changes in your leave situation and intention to return to your University position.
Benefited Employees: Income while on leave
If you hold a benefited position you may request to use your accrued sick, vacation and/or personal time to secure your income while on leave (in keeping with the definitions of each under the bargaining agreeent or Non-Unit policy, whichever applies to your position). Please reference the impact of paid leave on benefits (below).
Sick Leave Bank or AFSCME Extension of Sick Leave
If you will not have enough accrued time to secure your income while on leave and are a member of a Sick Leave Bank (SLB), you may apply for income security from that SLB. Each bargaining unit has its own SLB with a different waiting period and application process.
If you are hold a position represented by AFSCME and have exhausted any benefits you are entitled to under the AFSCME SLB you may apply for additional income security through University Labor Relations under AFSCME Extension of Sick Leave.
Benefited Employees: Paid Leaves and the Impact on Benefits
Your normal payroll deductions will continue while you are on paid leave. This includes contributions toward insurance
Dependent Care Assistance Program: IRS regulations state that you must be at work in order to incur DCAP-eligible expenses.
Benefited Employees:Unpaid Leaves and the Impact on Benefits
In certain circumstances you may be on a leave approved by your department but not be receiving pay from the University. This is considered an unpaid leave by the University/Commonwealth. During these times you may be receiving income through a long-term disability insurance plan (eg, GIC LTD, ORP LTD) or another income source (for instance an automobile insurance policy).
Unpaid Leave (while on a leave not paid via University payroll):
- GIC Health Insurance: you are responsible for paying 100% of the health insurance premium unless your leave is covered under the FMLA or MMLA. If FMLA or MMLA eligible, you are responsible for paying your regular contribution toward insurance premium(s). To request continuation of your GIC health insurance at the employee rate, complete and submit a GIC Application for Continuation of Part Cost Premium to the HRESC.The Massachusetts Group Insurance Commission (GIC) will invoice you at home. Return payment directly to the GIC to keep coverage(s) intact. If your GIC health insurance is cancelled due to non-payment you may be unable to re-establish coverage until the next open enrollment (end-of-April/beginning-of-May for coverage effective July 1.)
- GIC Optional Life and Long-Term Disability Insurance: the GIC will bill you for the premium that would have been deducted from your bi-weekly paycheck. You must make full and timely payment to the GIC to keep coverage(s) intact. If your GIC Optional Life and/or Long-term Disability insurance is cancelled due to non-payment you may be unable to re-establish that coverage without passing a medical proof of insurability exam.
- Health Care Spending Account: you may not incur expenses eligible for HSCA reimbursement during an unpaid leave & bi-weekly deductions upon return to University payroll will be increased to meet your full annual election amount.Alternatively you may either:
* Arrange with UMass Human Resources to have a pre-tax deduction lump sum taken from your last check before
the unpaid leave starts. The deduction must cover the period of leave during which no payroll deductions are
being taken. With this option, your flex debit card remains active and you are able to continue using your
HCSA funds and submit claims;
* Arrange with Benefits Strategies to pay your contributions and administration fees directly to Benefits Strategies
while on leave. This process must be requested directly of Benefit Strategies via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org before your unpaid leave starts. You will be invoiced every two weeks. Premiums may be paid by check
or moneyorder no later than the pay date on which the contribution would have been payroll-deducted.
If payments aremade timely the flex debit card remains active and you may continue to incur eligible
expenses. Direct bill payments are post-tax.
- Dependent Care Assistance Program: IRS regulations state that you must be at work in order to incur DCAP-eligible expenses. Payroll deductions will resume upon return to work at an increased level in order to meet the annual election amount.
- Creditable service toward retirement begins accruing upon your return from unpaid leave.
- Accrued paid leave: you will begin accruing sick and vacation time upon return from unpaid leave.
- Met Home/Auto/Legal coverages: You must to contact Met Life to arrange for payment of home, auto and/or legal insurance premium if you normally pay premium via payroll deduction (800.438.6388).
- University Parking: if you have payroll-deduction for your University parking payments, please contact the Parking Office to inquire into alternative payment arrangements.
- Union Dues: please contact your Union representative
- Voluntary 403(b) and 457 “SMART” Plan contributions: will begin again upon your return from unpaid leave.
- College Savings Program (529 plan): direct deposit of 529 contributions discontinues while on unpaid leave and resume when you return from unpaid leave.
Benefited Employees: Insurance benefits while on leave
In order to secure the most complete and seamless coverage of your medical care, please pro-actively consult with your health insurance carrier to insure that you and your doctor are following the plan policies for pre-authorizations and other plan rules.
If you are on an unpaid leave the MA GIC will bill you at home for 100% of the premium for your GIC health insurance coverage (rather than the employee rate normally withheld from your University paycheck). You may request to be invoiced at the employee rate by submitting a completed GIC Request for Return of Accumulated Deductions Form to the HR Employee Service Center. It is important for you to pay the GIC invoices timely or you may lose coverage and be unable to re-establish health insurance coverage until the following GIC open enrollment (end-of-April/beginning-of-May with coverage effective July 1). If your GIC optional life or long-term disability insurance(s) is cancelled due to non-payment you may not be able to re-establish those coverages.