IV.2. Employee Leaves of Absence

Faculty and staff members may request one of several types of leaves of absence, depending on the circumstances. Each of these requires a response that is coordinated between the chair, the department personnel committee, and the college.

  • Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). When serious health conditions render a faculty or staff member incapacitated and unable to perform the essential duties of her or his appointment, a faculty member may apply for up to 12 work-weeks of unpaid leave under the FMLA. The Federal government stipulates that the employer must maintain the employee’s health care coverage under the same conditions as coverage would have been provided if no leave had occurred, including benefits increases. FMLA leave is also available to faculty or staff under the following conditions:
    • Birth of a child
    • Placement of a dependent child with the employee for adoption or foster care
    • Need to care for the employee’s spouse, child, or parent (but not parent-in- law) suffering from a serious health condition.

In the case of a faculty member’s FMLA leave, the college serves in the role of the employer, in consultation with the department chair, in the negotiation of a flexible leave arrangement that addresses both the faculty member’s needs and the teaching needs of the department. The chair may request funds from the college for replacement teaching to cover some or all of the faculty member’s teaching load; a similar arrangement may be made to cover a staff member’s workshop while on an approved FMLA leave.

If possible, the faculty or staff member is required to give at least 30 days advance notice to the department and the college. In the case of a serious medical emergency, the university may, at its own expense, require a second opinion for medical documentation. The application and any supporting medical documentation are submitted to Human Resource Services (HRS) for evaluation. To protect the confidentiality of the faculty or staff member, the chair is not involved in the discussion or evaluation of medical documentation unless disclosed by the faculty member voluntarily.

If the faculty member is on a probationary tenure-track, she or he may request an extension of the tenure probationary period for a period of one year with an approved application for benefits under the FMLA or in accordance with NIU’s family leave policies. This request may be denied in the event that the faculty member is not making adequate progress toward promotion and tenure. See APPM, Section II, Item 31.

    • Unpaid leave. On occasion a faculty member, for valid reasons, may choose to take a leave from contractual teaching responsibilities without pay. The leave proposal should describe the activity to be undertaken during the leave period and must be approved by the department chair, the college dean, and the provost.
    • Vacation days. Employees on more than 10-month contract receive two vacation days per month as part of their employee benefits. Unlike FMLA and unpaid leave, the use of vacation days does not require approval outside of the department. Employees are required, however, to give the department chair sufficient notice before using one or more vacation days. Upon return to work, the employee must report any used vacation days on the monthly Benefit Usage Report.

Contact HRS for current policies and guidelines on sick leave, FMLA, vacation and other types of leaves of absence.