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104.5 - Serious Illness and Disability Leave Policy for Faculty

University Group Policy #104.5

I.  Policy Statement

Commensurate with UNC Policy 300.2.11, Guidelines on Serious Illness and Disability Leave for Faculty, this policy provides a period of leave for faculty in cases of extraordinary illness, major disability, or for parental purposes. The policy supplements existing guidance and statutes and should not be interpreted in any way that is not consistent with guidance provided in UNC Policy 300.2.11, Guidelines on Serious Illness and Disability Leave for Faculty; the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA); and the N.C. Family Illness Act. The policy is intended to apply to short-term and intermediate-term disability of up to one year and does not apply to brief absences of 14 calendar days or less that are typically accommodated informally.

II.    Guidelines

Eligible Conditions:

The conditions and situations for which this policy is intended include the following, consistent with qualifying conditions under the FMLA:

  1. Birth of a child and care for a newborn child after birth; (Note: An expectant mother may take FMLA leave before the birth of the child for prenatal care or if her condition makes her unable to work or requires a reduced work schedule).
  2. Placement of or to care for a child placed with the employee for adoption or foster care;
  3. Serious health condition of an employee’s child, spouse or unmarried partner, or parent, that requires the employee’s care;
  4. Serious health condition of the employee that prevents the employee from performing the essential functions of his/her job.

Coordination with FMLA and the N.C. Family Illness Leave Policy:

  1. Paid leave provided for under this policy has no effect on the faculty member’s other employment benefits.
  2. All periods of paid leave under this policy will be construed as family and medical leave under the FMLA. The FMLA entitlement of 12 weeks of leave without pay will run concurrently with any period of paid leave.
  3. The N.C. Family Illness Act allows for an extension of up to 52 weeks of leave without pay during a five-year period in cases of serious illness of a child, spouse, or parent. Under N.C. Family Illness Leave, an eligible employee is a permanent or time-limited employee who (a) has worked for the State of North Carolina for a minimum of 12 months and (b) has been in a paid status at least 1,040 hours during the previous 12-month period, or the equivalent of 50 percent of full-time equivalent load for faculty. Temporary employees are not eligible for Family Illness Leave.

Application and Approval Procedures:

  1. Faculty members should request leave in writing to the supervisor-- department chair or dean/director, as appropriate. Requests for leave should be submitted at least 60 days in advance of the leave or as soon as practicable after the need for leave is foreseeable.
  2. The department chair may request medical verification of the faculty member’s illness or disability, including a physician’s statement about the probably length of absence from normal duties. If the request is for the purpose of caring for a faculty member’s family member or dependent, the department chair may also request medical verification.
  3. The department chair will make a recommendation to the dean, as appropriate concerning whether or not to grant the request for leave. When the request is the result of the faculty member’s illness or disability, the department chair will recommend leave approval if the need is readily evident or if it is supported by sufficient medical verification. When the request is to care for the faculty member’s family member or dependent, the department head may base the recommendation on other factors, including the needs of the unit, timing within the academic year, effect on students, and the ability of the unit to compensate for the absence.
  4. The dean is responsible for deciding whether or not to approve the request for leave and provides written notification to the department chair and the faculty member, with copy to the Provost. If leave is denied, the written notification should include the grounds for denial. A decision for denial of the requested leave may be appealed to the Provost.
  5. The department chair is responsible for securing, to the extent possible, substitute personnel for the duration of the faculty member’s leave. Any adjustments in work schedules within the department are at the discretion of the department chair with the approval of the dean and are subject to departmental and university needs and resources.
  6. The cost of substitute personnel is the department’s responsibility. In recommending approval of a leave to the dean, the department chair will certify that a plan exists to cover the responsibilities of the faculty member for the duration of the leave.
  7. Any excess or unused leave under this policy shall not be accumulated or carried over to another academic year, allowable as terminal leave payment when the faculty member leaves the university, or used to extend years of creditable state service for retirement benefit purposes. Additionally, faculty members with a balance of accrued leave from a previous 12-month appointment will be asked to exhaust that leave before receiving sick leave under this policy.
  8. Because this policy provides an important financial benefit, accurate records on all requests for leave, whether or not the request is granted, must be maintained. The immediate supervisor shall be responsible for forwarding all records pertaining to the use of this policy to the Office of the Provost, which will maintain the official records concerning requests for leave under this policy.

Coordination with Tenure policies:

  1. At the time a request for leave is granted, the faculty member, department chair, dean, and provost will agree in writing whether time spent on leave will count as probationary service. In the absence of an agreement or if the parties fail to reach agreement, time spent on leave shall count as probationary service.
  2. Faculty will not be penalized in their condition of employment because of required time away from work caused by or contributed to by conditions such as pregnancy, miscarriage, childbirth, or recovery. Requests for leave because of these conditions shall be treated the same as a temporary disability.
  3. A faculty member granted leave under this policy may have his/her five-year post-tenure review delayed by a period agreed upon by the member, department chair, and dean.

Salary Continuation:

  • Faculty members qualifying for leave under this policy shall be eligible for 60 calendar days of paid leave within a single academic semester, up to a maximum of one academic semester depending upon the circumstances of the case, needs of the department, and the ability to fund replacement faculty support. Approval may be granted for an extension of up to an additional semester of paid or unpaid leave unpaid leave if the illness or disability requires a longer recovery period depending upon the circumstances of the case, needs of the department, and the ability to fund replacement faculty support.
  • Employees are eligible for short-term disability benefits under the N.C. Disability Income Plan if they have at least one year of contributing membership service in the N.C. Teachers’ and State Employees’ Retirement System or the UNC Optional Retirement Program earned within the 36 calendar months preceding the disability. Benefits become payable following a 60-day waiting period from the date of disability onset. In lieu of short-term disability benefits, employees may elect to exhaust any accumulated sick leave, vacation leave, or any other salary continuation as provided by the university. In addition to their eligibility for the N.C. Disability Income Plan, faculty should consider enrolling in one of the supplemental disability income plans available to UNC employees.

III.     Applicability


Faculty members eligible for leave under this policy are those who do not accrue sick leave and are eligible to participate in the N.C. Teachers’ and State Employees’ Retirement System or the UNC Optional Retirement Program; in other words, continuing faculty who are employed at least 75 percent of full-time. Eligibility is also limited to those faculty eligible under the provisions of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) [i.e., who have been employed at least one year and have worked at least 1,040 hour within the last 12 months].

Responsible Division: Vice Chancellor and Chief of Staff

Authority: Board of Trustees


  • Adopted: December 9, 2011

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