Sick Leave

Sick leave refers to absences of faculty, academic staff, and limited appointees of the University of Wisconsin System due to personal illness, injury, disability, or pregnancy, as well as attendance on a member of the immediate family of the employee whose condition or death requires the employee's direct care, if such absences are being charged against the employee's accumulated sick leave credits. When the employee is eligible to be charged sick leave, it will be on the basis of five days per week (Monday through Friday) for the 39-week period of an academic year. The policy governing sick leave during the Summer Session follows at #11.

The policies are applicable, without regard to extent of appointment, to all faculty and academic staff other than graduate assistants or visiting faculty who are covered by sick leave provisions at their home institutions.

Accumulation of Leave

Eligibility for sick leave is contingent upon eligibility for Wisconsin Retirement (see Part E). Full-time employees whose initial appointments are for nine months or more are granted 22 working days (i.e., Monday through Friday, exclusive of holidays) of leave which they may draw upon as required by illness, injury, disability, or pregnancy. After 12 years of service, additional, non-lapsing leave is earned by such members at the rate of 1 day per month for persons holding annual appointments or 6 days per semester for persons who hold academic year appointments with a maximum annual accumulation limited to not more than 12 days. Unused sick leave accumulates from year to year in the employee's account.

When an employee takes sick leave, the rate of sick leave compensation is the rate of salary which the individual would have normally received. Other than the 22 days of sick leave granted to the faculty or academic staff member upon appointment, sick leave may be taken only after it has been earned (i.e., it may not be anticipated). An employee utilizing paid sick leave continues to accumulate sick leave during the period of absence. However, sick leave cannot accumulate during an unpaid leave of absence. Previously accumulated sick leave shall not be affected by unpaid leaves of absence. Upon retirement supplemental sick leave credits will be added to an employee's account who has completed fifteen full years of continuous service. These credits may only be used to pay health insurance premiums.

Proration of Accumulated Sick Leave

Initial entitlement and accumulation of sick leave as specified in the preceding section assume full-time appointment for 9 months or more. Part-time appointees having an initial entitlement earn and are charged sick leave in proportion to the extent of their appointments.

Allowance for Past Service

On the effective date of this policy, University of Wisconsin System faculty and academic staff members whose appointments were normally for 9 months or more were credited with an initial accumulation of sick leave totaling the amount the individual would have accrued during previous years of service if the sick leave plan had been in effect for previous years, less a debit of 2 days per year of service.

Cancellation and Reinstatement

If an individual leaves employment within the University of Wisconsin System, unused sick leave will be terminated but will be reinstated if the employee is reappointed to any position in the system within three years.

Relation of Sick Leave to Income Continuation Insurance

When an employee becomes eligible to receive compensation under income continuation insurance, sick leave benefits are no longer applicable to that illness.

Use of Sick Leave for Anticipated Medical Absence

A member of the faculty or academic staff with teaching responsibilities who expects to be absent during an upcoming semester may, with two months' advance notice, elect to use a combination of paid and unpaid leave for the entire semester. Such leave is taken solely at the option of the individual, but the university may, at the time advance notice is given, require proof that the absence cannot be arranged so as to avoid interruption of teaching duties. The employee using this type of leave may receive the sick leave benefits for which he or she would have been eligible had the individual remained on duty up to the time of disability. Other portions of the semester not covered by sick leave are on leave without pay.

Use of Accumulated Sick Leave to Pay for Health Insurance Premiums

State group health insurance shall be continued after retirement for any eligible employee who has not elected to discontinue such coverage, and the full premium therefore shall be deducted from credits earned from the conversion of unused sick leave and the supplemental credit account. These credits, converted to current value, can be used to pay health insurance premiums as follows:

  • For an employee and any eligible dependents, at the employee's retirement; or
  • For the spouse and any eligible dependents, after the employee's death.

Deductions continue until the deaths of both the employee and spouse or until the credit is exhausted.

Sick leave credits can be used only to pay the premiums for continuing the group health insurance. If a retiring employee does not participate in the state group health insurance plan, sick leave credits lapse.

Maternity Leave

Provisions governing maternity leave are the same as those governing other temporary disabilities. A teaching or non-teaching staff member may choose to continue normal duties through pregnancy and use accumulated sick leave as needed for prenatal, delivery, and post-delivery care while physically unable to perform her duties. Thereafter, she may take additional consecutive days or the remainder of the semester as unpaid leave at her option.

Alternatively, an employee with teaching responsibilities may choose a combination of paid and unpaid leave as described in #7. In such cases, it shall be understood that the timing of pregnancy cannot be "arranged" under the meaning of this policy.

In the semester after the one in which delivery occurs, the employee shall be granted, upon her request, leave without pay for the semester. In the case of a probationary faculty member, such leave will not be counted in the calculation of probationary time. An employee who anticipates taking maternity leave should so inform her department chair or supervisor as early as possible.

Either parent may receive leave in the semester following the birth of a child. However, if both parents are employed by the University, only one may receive such leave for child care.

Wisconsin Family Medical Leave Act and Federal Family Medical Leave Act

In addition to the rights for leave that have been explained in the above section of this document, leave is available under WFMLA and FMLA. The legislated leave runs concurrently with the leave provided by the University. However, additional unpaid leave is available as explained:

  • WFMLA - Unpaid leave [that can be substituted for with paid leave (sick leave, vacation, holiday, etc.) to the extent to which the employee has accrued the leave.] University policy for absences due to illness of the employee or family member are more generous than what the employee receives under the WFMLA guidelines.

    While parental leave of absence policies vary by institution, they generally allow leaves without pay longer than the mandatory 6 weeks for family leave as stated above. WFMLA, however, allows flexibility in that 6 weeks of leave may be taken intermittently and/or on a part-time basis substituting any paid leave that has accrued to the employee.

    • 2 weeks per year for personal illness/injury.
    • 2 weeks per year to care for a child, spouse or parent with a serious health condition.
    • 6 weeks family leave for the birth of a child, adoption or preplacement of a child as a condition for adoption. (This leave must be commenced not earlier than 16 weeks prior to and not later than 16 weeks after the qualifying event.) Note: The period immediately following the birth of a child when the biological mother is physically unable to work, is not considered to be family leave.
  • FMLA - 12 weeks of unpaid leave on a full, part-time or intermittent basis for the following reasons:
    • For the serious health condition of the employee that makes the employee unable to perform the functions of the employee's position.
    • To care for the employee's child, spouse, or parent with a serious health condition.
    • For the birth, adoption or placement of a child for foster care.

Sick Leave During Summer Session

Individuals whose basic appointments are for nine months and who teach in the Summer Session may qualify for sick leave in the Summer Session, provided inception of the illness occurs on the first or subsequent day of the Summer Session. Exceptions to this policy may be made, only on behalf of members of the permanent faculty, at the discretion of the chancellor.


Reporting and record keeping procedures and requirements for faculty and academic staff members' absences are in the FACULTY AND ACADEMIC STAFF RESPONSIBILITIES section of this Handbook, pages 2.1-2.7. Each department or equivalent unit shall maintain records of sick leave entitlement for its faculty and academic staff members and shall, on a timely basis, forward completed Staff Request for Absence forms to the Human Resources Office.

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