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Sick and Disability Leave or Absence Procedure - 63.08.14

College Policy Number/Title:

Howard Community College provides paid sick and disability benefits to certain classes of employees, depending on their status and hours worked.

Sick Leave

Eligibility and accrual for full-time and part-time budgeted and temporary with benefits employees

Full-time and part-time budgeted and temporary with benefits employees earn leave beginning with their first day of employment, and immediate usage is allowed upon accrual. Budgeted and temporary with benefits employees accrue sick leave equivalent to one regularly scheduled workday for each month of their employment. Sick leave is computed based on an individual's normal authorized work schedule and generally equates to 10 or 12 days per year for full-time employees. Sick leave is prorated for part-time budgeted and temporary with benefits employees to reflect the percentage of a full work schedule that the employee is authorized to work. There is no limit on the accrual of sick leave, and all accrued sick leave rolls over from one year to the next.

Eligibility and accrual for hourly/temporary staff, temporary exempt staff, and adjunct faculty

Hourly/temporary staff, temporary exempt staff, and adjunct faculty are eligible to earn paid sick leave as well, but only accrue leave in pay periods in which they work over 25 hours. In such pay periods, sick leave is accrued at a rate of .0334 hours for every hour worked, equivalent to 1 hour earned for every 30 hours worked. In pay periods in which 25 hours or fewer are worked, no sick leave is accrued. Employees in these categories may accrue, but may not use, sick leave within their first 106 calendar days of employment with the college.

Hourly/temporary staff, temporary exempt staff, and adjunct faculty have a maximum accrual of 40 hours per fiscal year and may accrue a maximum of 64 hours at any time. No more than 40 hours may roll over from one fiscal year to the next; any leave balance above that amount at the end of the fiscal year will be forfeited.

Purposes of Sick Leave

Sick leave may be used for personal illness or injury, to care for an ill or injured member of the employee’s family as defined below, or for medical appointments for the employee or family member.

Sick leave may also be used to care for the employee’s newborn or adopted child. The use of up to 12 weeks of sick leave is allowed for either parent within 12 months after birth or adoption, either for disability of the mother or child or for bonding purposes with a healthy child. Once the 12-month period after birth or adoption has expired, sick leave may only be used in cases of illness or disability.

In addition, sick leave may be used if the absence from work is necessary to take care of legal, medical, or related issues stemming from domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking committed against the employee or a family member.

Sick leave is intended for these purposes only; employees have no vested ownership or entitlement to their accrued sick leave unless needed for the purposes specified above.

Definition of Family

The family members covered under this procedure are parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse, or child.. Parent includes biological parent, step-parent, parent-in-law, adoptive parent, foster parent, or any individual who served in loco parentis or as legal guardian to the employee or spouse. Grandparent includes a biological, adopted, foster, or step-grandparent. Sibling includes biological sibling, step-sibling, adoptive sibling, or foster sibling. Children and grandchildren include biological, step, foster, or adopted children and grandchildren, or those for whom the employee has legal custody or guardianship or serves in loco parentis.

Leave Authorization

All absences require that the employee notify their supervisor. Notification in the form of a phone call from employee to immediate supervisor no later than the employee’s scheduled start time is the standard college expectation; however, a supervisor may set different notification expectations, as long as the expectations are reasonable, communicated in advance, and consistently enforced for all affected employees.

Sick leave lasting under five days does not normally require medical documentation, unless specifically requested as described below in “Physician’s Certification.” Absences under five days also do not require a request for leave form. Any absence of five or more days requires medical documentation from the employee as well as a request for leave form to be provided by the employee either in advance or as soon as possible after the fifth day of absence. The maximum absence that can be requested on a single request for leave form is three months.

It is the responsibility of supervisors to notify the office of human resources of all absences of more than three days for sickness. This notification allows the office of human resources to review the absence in reference to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993. The FMLA provides job protection for specified periods of time with paid or unpaid leave for eligible employees absent for a serious health condition. The human resources office will make the determination whether a specific leave request is FMLA leave, based on information provided by the employee. See procedure 63.08.15, Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Sick leave, short-term disability (STD) or long-term disability (LTD) may be available for FMLA covered events. Whenever an employee requests leave for an FMLA covered event, the employee is required to exhaust all accrued sick leave, annual leave, and personal leave for which the employee is eligible under college policies and procedures prior to being placed in unpaid leave status. See procedure 63.08.15, Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Physician's Certification

At the supervisor’s discretion, or when requested by the office of human resources, the college reserves the right to require any employee to provide a physician's letter or certificate to the office of human resources, even if the absence is under five days. In addition, the college reserves the right to require any employee to submit to a college-paid medical examination any time sick leave is used regardless of duration of absence; such certification will be delivered to the office of human resources and maintained in a confidential file. When medical certification has been requested by the college, and is not forthcoming, the college may deny the use of sick leave and will determine that annual leave or leave without pay is appropriate.

In incidences when less than a full disability is certified, the physician must specify the conditions under which the employee can return to work.

Other Employment

Other employment while on sick or disability leave or absence may result in cancella­tion of the approved absence or termination of employment unless such employment has been an approved condition of the leave.

Integration with Workers' Compensation

Employees may not apply for short-term disability insurance while receiving workers' compensation.

Return to Work

Prior to an employee returning to work following a sick or disability leave or absence due to a personal illness or disability, the employee must provide written certification of the ability to return to work from a treating physician; such certification should note any limitations. The only exception is for a sick leave of fewer than five days, which normally does not require such certification.

Job Restoration

While the college takes a compassionate and humane view toward illness and absences due to disability, positions may not be held open indefinitely when an employee is unable to fulfill job responsibilities. Reinstatement to the same or equivalent job following a sick or disability leave/absence will be available for absences of 12 weeks or less, under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to qualified employees (see procedure 63.08.15, Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)). Employees may have accrued paid leave balances exceeding the 12 weeks mandated by the FMLA. In the event that employees have accrued leave available, the college will honor the paid leave balances consistent with the policy guidelines for use of that leave category provided that extended usage does not create a hardship for the college; however, the same or equivalent job is not guaranteed. Leave requests exceeding 12 weeks will be considered on a case-by-case basis and decisions will be based on the college and departmental needs, college policy and procedure, budgetary resources, the employee's education and training for the job, and principles of compassion and fairness.

Unused Sick Leave

Unused sick leave is not payable upon resignation or other termination of employment. Sick leave is also not payable upon retirement. However, members of the Maryland State Retirement and Pension System (MSRPS) may credit unused sick leave toward service time for retirement. Employees who do not register hours worked for the college for a period of 37 consecutive weeks will forfeit any leave balances.

Benefits During Sick Leave

All normally received benefits continue to be in effect during sick leave. The usual employee and college contributions to benefits and accrual rates continue as well.

Transferability of Sick Leave

Sick leave earned at other institutions is not transferable to Howard Community College.

Active Pay Status

An employee must be in active pay status to accrue leave; "active pay status" means that the employee is either working or on approved paid leave and is currently receiving a paycheck. Employees on short or long-term disability insurance do not accrue leave.

Short-Term Disability Leave

Definitions and Eligibility for Short-Term Disability Leave (STD)

The college provides a Short-Term Disability (STD) insurance plan. This plan is self-insured by the college and is available to full- and part-time employees in budgeted and temporary with benefits positions who have been employed for a minimum of 90 consecutive calendar days. STD insurance is designed to provide income protection to disabled employees if eligible and authorized after the time that earned sick, personal and annual leave have been exhausted. The length of the disability period, as certified by a physician, after all sick, personal and annual leaves are used must exceed five consecutive workdays for qualification for this insurance. If the length of the disability period after all sick, personal and annual leave is used is less than five consecutive workdays, the employee will be on a leave without pay status for those days and will only qualify to apply for STD insurance after five consecutive days. Members of the emergency sick leave bank may request use of the emergency leave bank prior to using STD insurance in accordance with that college policy (see procedure 63.08.16, Emergency Leave Bank) for additional details.

STD Benefits and Effect on Other Benefits

Individuals receiving STD insurance are paid approximately 60 percent of the regular compensation exclusive of overtime, shift differential, or other additional payments. STD payments are subject to FICA and income taxes. During approved STD insurance leave or during the up to 12 weeks of leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) (see procedure 63.08.15, Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)), the college will continue to pay its usual share of the premium costs for health and dental insurance, life insurance, LTD insurance and retirement. However, no leave is accrued. Employees on leave without pay are responsible for making arrangements with the office of human resources to pay for their share of the insurance costs.

Limitations

While an employee may be approved for multiple instances of STD within a 12-month period, an employee may not use more than 90 total calendar days of STD leave in any 12-month period. Once an employee has exhausted the 90-day allowance of STD within a 12-month period, the employee may be eligible to apply for long-term disability if the employee remains unable to work; however, if the 90 days of STD are not continuous, eligibility for LTD may be jeopardized.

Short-term disability insurance may not be used to care for others and is available only during the portion of the year that the employee is under contract or agreement to work for regular pay and benefits. Short-term disability is not available for any illness or injury that is self-inflicted, a result of war, or caused during the commission of a felony.

End of STD Leave

Short-term disability leave provisions cease when the employee returns to active duty or regular, full-time pay status when such return is certified by a physician; terminates employment with the college; accepts additional or alternate employment; discontinues care by a physician; reaches the maximum limit of STD allowable; or retires from the college.

Long-Term Disability Leave or Absence

Definitions and Eligibility for Long-Term Disability Leave (LTD)

Long-term disability (LTD) insurance, if approved by the insurance carrier, is available to full-time budgeted and temporary with benefits employees to provide income protection in the event of a disability exceeding three months. Employees become eligible for LTD insurance coverage commencing on the first day of the month following employment. Eligibility for LTD benefits payments begins after a waiting period of 90 continuous days of physician-certified disability. Payments to the employee for accrued leave, short-term disability benefits, or emergency leave bank are allowed during the waiting period. Additionally, an employee may return to work for up to 15 days during the 90-day waiting period without having to begin a new waiting period. Members of the emergency leave bank will use leave from the bank, up to the allowed amount, before applying for LTD.

LTD Benefits and Effect on Other Benefits

Pending approval by the insurance carrier, an employee on LTD leave receives approximately 60 percent of regular earnings; this amount is reduced by any amount received from other sources, such as Social Security. The cost of this insurance benefit coverage is borne by the college; any LTD benefits received are subject to federal, state, and other applicable taxes. Upon college approval of the disability absence from the job, employees are eligible to remain in the college's group health, dental, life insurance, and other benefit programs while on long-term disability, but employees are responsible for the full premium amount of each plan except as provided by procedure 63.07.04, Extension of Group Health Benefits and except as provided by the LTD carrier. If the disability causes the employee to be separated from employment and they also meet the full college retirement eligibility guidelines, the individual would be eligible to remain in the college's group health or dental plans as a retiree (see procedure 63.07.04, Extension of Group Health Benefits). No sick, personal or annual leave is accrued while on LTD and contributions to retirement cease.

End of LTD Leave

Long-term disability insurance ceases if the employee returns to active duty and pay status when such return is certified by a physician; accepts additional or alternate employment; discontinues care by a physician; or retires from the college; or when the college must separate the employee from employment (see "Job Restoration," above). However, LTD benefits payments may continue, and the LTD insurance carrier makes this determination.

Partial Disability

Sometimes the return to work following LTD leave must be gradual. Although benefits are not guaranteed for partial disability, the insurance carrier will evaluate each case in any attempt made to return to work on a part-time basis following a period of total disability for which benefits have been paid. When an employee attempts such a gradual return to work, the college’s insurance carrier may provide part-time, rehabilitative benefits depending upon the circumstances connected with the particular employee's rehabilitative employment.

Coordination with Retirement Plans

Employees should consult the college benefits administrator or retirement plan counselor in the event of a long-term disability absence. Employees who are members of the Maryland State Retirement System (MSRPS) must complete Form MSRS46 when going out on LTD leave.

Accrual of Leave and Automatic Leave Sequence

  1. Accrual of leave means the accumulation of available leave time that is added each pay period to an employee's leave balance. Leave that is used is subtracted from the leave balance. Leave balances are available online.
  2. Individuals accrue annual and sick leave while on sick leave. Individuals do not accrue annual or sick leave while on leave without pay or on any kind of disability leave or absence.
  3. Only current leave balances may be used. If leave is taken that has not yet been accrued by an employee, an automatic leave sequence will be used. This sequence will be specified for each type of leave for which an automatic leave sequence would be applicable.
  4. The automatic leave sequence for sick leave is as follows: sick leave; personal leave; annual leave; and leave without pay. The automatic leave sequence for disability leave is as follows: short-term disability leave; leave without pay. LTD is not part of any automatic leave sequence.
Effective Date: 11/09/18

President's Office Use:  VPAF

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