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Voluntary Shared Leave

Purpose

Voluntary shared leave allows one employee to assist another employee in the case of a prolonged medical condition that exhausts the employee’s available leave and would otherwise force the employee to be placed in leave without pay status, resulting in a loss of income and benefits.

This policy does not apply to incidental, normal, and/or short-term medical conditions. In addition, the policy is not intended to circumvent the requirement of management to have duties performed, or limit management’s right to deny a request for leave without pay.

This program is administered by the Medical Leave Coordinator in the Benefits Services Department in the Office of Human Resources.

Eligibility

The following appointment types are eligible to participate in the voluntary shared leave program:

  • EPA Faculty (12-month) permanent employees
  • EPA Non-Faculty permanent employees
  • SPA employees regularly scheduled to work 20 hours or more each work week (permanent, probationary, trainee, or time-limited appointments)

The following appointment types are not eligible to participate in the voluntary shared leave program:

  • EPA Faculty (9-month) employees
  • Temporary employees
  • Postdoctoral fellows
  • Student employees

For the purposes of using voluntary shared leave, “immediate family” will refer to the following relations:

  • Spouse (husband or wife)
  • Parent (biological, adoptive, or person who stood-in as “parent”)
  • Child (biological, adopted, legal ward, foster care, or person for whom employee stands-in as “parent”)
  • Sister or Brother (biological or adoptive)
  • Grandparents
  • Great-Grandparents
  • Grandchildren
  • Great-Grandchildren
  • Step-, Half-, and In-law relations of the above
  • Other dependents living in the household

Qualifying Conditions

Prolonged Medical Condition: A prolonged medical condition is one that requires an employee’s absence from duty for a prolonged period (at least 20 consecutive work days).

Exception: An exception to the 20-day requirement may be made if the employee has had previous, random, and excessive absences for the same condition as that for which shared leave is currently being requested; or if the employee has had a different but prolonged medical condition within the past 12 months.

The medical condition may involve the employee or an immediate family member. In either case, a document from the attending physician, listing the condition, prognosis, and the estimated time for treatment or recovery is required as part of the application process.

Disability: An employee may use donated shared leave to cover any needed hours for the required disability waiting period or for the time following the waiting period, provided that the benefits under the Disability Income Plan of North Carolina (DIPNC) have not yet begun. An employee receiving benefits from DIPNC is not eligible to participate in shared leave.

Workers’ Compensation: Use of donated shared leave is limited to the required workers’ compensation waiting period and for supplemental workers’ compensation leave after the waiting period.

Birth of a Child: The period of actual physical disability as a result of pregnancy and childbirth (normally six weeks for natural birth or eight weeks for a cesarean birth), as certified by a physician, is a condition covered by this policy. Eligibility also may be extended for complications related to the pregnancy and delivery. Both parents are eligible for shared leave for the period of disability of the mother, and the physician’s statement must specify the anticipated period of disability.

NOTE: Although an employee may receive up to 12 weeks of Family & Medical Leave for birth, adoption or foster care placement, only the period of actual physical disability as a result of pregnancy or childbirth is covered under the Shared Leave Policy. The additional “bonding time” allowed under FMLA are not eligible for shared leave coverage.

Non-Qualifying Conditions: Shared leave will not ordinarily apply to short-term or sporadic conditions or illnesses. Each case must be examined and decided based on its conformity to policy intent, and must be handled consistently and fairly. Examples of non-qualifying conditions include, but are not limited to, conditions such as:

  • short-term or sporadic recurrence of chronic allergies or conditions
  • short-term or sporadic absences due to contagious disease
  • short-term or recurring medical or therapeutic treatments

Donations

Employee medical information is confidential. When disclosing information on an approved recipient, only a statement that the recipient (or family member) has a prolonged medical condition needs to be made. If the employee wishes to make the medical status public, the employee must sign a release to allow the status to be known.

The employee and their department representatives are responsible for identifying leave donors. No one may directly or indirectly make any attempt to intimidate, threaten, or coerce any other employee for the purpose of soliciting leave. (Such action is considered a personal conduct issue and subject to disciplinary action, including dismissal). The Medical Leave Coordinator cannot solicit leave. The establishment of a leave “bank” for use by unnamed employees is prohibited; donated leave cannot be held and must be donated on a one-to-one personal basis as it is received.

Non-family member Donors may contribute vacation, bonus and/or sick leave to eligible employees of UNC-Chapel Hill, of another UNC institution, of a public school, of a community college, or of any other State agency. Paid Time Off (PTO) leave programs are not consider comparable leave to be donated under this policy. An employee cannot donate more than their annual vacation accrual amount.

  • The donor’s ending balance of vacation leave after a donation may not be less than one-half the employee’s annual vacation leave accrual amount.
  • The donor can donate up to five days of sick leave per year to any one non-family member recipient. The combined total of sick leave donated to a recipient from non-family members shall not exceed 20 days per year.
  • Donated sick leave shall not be used for retirement credit in the Teachers’ and State Employees’ Retirement System.
  • The minimum donation is four hours.

Immediate Family Member (as defined above) may contribute vacation leave, bonus leave, or sick leave to an eligible immediate family member employed by UNC-Chapel Hill, another UNC institution, a public school, a community college, or any other State agency. Paid Time Off (PTO) leave programs are not consider comparable leave to be donated under this policy.

  • An employee may donate up to a maximum of 1040 hours, but may not reduce their sick leave balance to less than 40 hours.
  • The donor’s ending balance of vacation leave after a donation may not be less than one-half the employee’s annual vacation leave accrual amount.
  • The minimum donation is four hours.

When donating to an employee at another State agency, please provide UNC-Chapel Hill’s Medical Leave Coordinator with complete contact information for the recipient’s State agency’s Medical Leave Coordinator. This information should include name, title, agency name, address, phone and fax numbers and email address.

Donated vacation, bonus and/or sick leave are deducted from the employee’s leave record. All donations go into a “Shared Leave” record for the recipient.

Allowable Hours Received

The number of hours of leave an employee can receive is equal to the projected recovery or treatment period, less the employee’s combined vacation and sick leave balance as of the beginning of the recovery or treatment period.

Generally, program participation is limited to 1,040 hours (pro-rated for part-time employees), either continuously or, if for the same condition, on a recurring basis. However, management may extend eligibility in the program on a month-by-month basis for a maximum of 2,080 hours, provided they would have approved leave without pay for the employee in the absence of shared leave eligibility. Additional verification from the physician may be required.

The employee must exhaust all accrued vacation leave, sick leave, bonus leave, compensatory time off, or any other available paid time off before using any donated shared leave.

NOTE: If an SPA non-exempt employee is scheduled for a period of leave (voluntary shared leave, Family & Medical Leave, leave without pay, etc.), and will not be able to use (or chooses not to use) earned compensatory time off or other accrued paid time off due to expire during the absence, then all such paid time off must be paid out as its expiration date occurs. (Note that the employee cannot use other available leave if they have any available PTO and will not qualify for Shared Leave if they have any available leave/PTO. See “Determining Time Worked” in the Related Subjects section below for details on prioritized application of leave and PTO.)

Because an employee remains in pay status while coding shared leave, they continue to accrue vacation and sick leave provided they remain in pay status for one-half or more of the regularly scheduled work days and paid holidays in the month. This leave must be exhausted as it is earned.

Application Procedure

An application to receive or to donate leave must be approved by the employee’s department before it is forwarded to the Office of Human Resources. The department’s determination as to whether or not an employee’s application will be forwarded is based in part on the employee’s past compliance with University leave policies and availability of funds within the department to cover the absences. Approval for shared leave is not guaranteed.

Employees and their supervisors should review the Family & Medical Leave, Family Illness Leave, Voluntary Shared Leave, and Leave without Pay policies to understand the applicability of these programs to the employee’s specific situation. EPA Faculty employees should refer also to the “Faculty Serious Illness, Major Disability, and Parental Leave Policy”.

In order to apply for Voluntary Shared Leave:

  • The employee must complete a “Medical Leave Request Form” and the “Medical Certification Form” (also completed and signed by a health care provider) and submit to their supervisor for review.
  • Once approved by the supervisor and second-level supervisor, the employee must forward the signed documents along with a current leave record to:
    • The Medical Leave Coordinator, Benefits Services Department, CB# 1045.
  • The Medical Leave Coordinator will review the documents for completeness and adherence to policy and notify the school/division’s HR Office once the request is approved. Leave hours donated should not be adjusted to an employee’s leave record until approved by the Medical Leave Coordinator in writing to the school/division’s HR Office. Letter for donors and recipients will be sent via email to school/division’s HR Offices for distribution to employees.
  • The school/division’s HR Office shall monitor the day-to-day leave tracking for the employee and notify the Medical Leave Coordinator once the employee has returned to work. The school/division’s HR Office should have the employee complete the Medical Leave Return to Work Form. The completed form should be sent to the Medical Leave Coordinator.

Donation Procedure

All donations must be received by the Medical Leave Coordinator within 60 days of the approval date of the recipient’s “Medical Leave Request Form.” If additional time is needed after the 60-day time limit, an updated medical certification is required from the applicant.

To donate shared leave:

  • The employee must complete the “Medical Leave — Shared Leave Donation Form.”
  • If the employee does not have a specific recipient in mind, they should indicate “Unspecified Recipient” on the donation form.
  • The employee submits the “Medical Leave — Shared Leave Donation Form” to their supervisor for review and approval.
  • Once approved by the department, the school/division’s HR Office confirms the leave balance and earnings information and submits the application to the Medical Leave Coordinator, Benefits Services Department, CB#1045.
  • The Medical Leave Coordinator verifies the information and completes the application process. The Medical Leave Coordinator will notify the school/division’s HR Office(s) of any donations as they occur. Letters for donors and recipients will be sent via email to school/division’s HR Office(s) for distribution to employees.

Administering Shared Leave

During and after the shared leave period:

  • Leave transferred under this program is available for use on a current basis, or may be retroactive for up to 60 calendar days from the date the recipient’s application is approved by the Medical Leave Coordinator, and only while the employee is out on an approved unpaid leave. The leave donated is always applied to the first available unpaid day.
  • Donated leave cannot replace leave already used by the employee. However, shared leave can replace any vacation or sick leave that had been advanced to the employee.
  • Each department is responsible for the accuracy of donor and recipient leave records and Employee Time Records. Accrual and use of Shared Leave shall be recorded and tracked by the Department’s HR TIM Administrator. See TIM Website in the Related Subjects section below for information on tracking Shared Leave
  • The leave balance of a recipient is exempt from the calendar year-end maximum carry-over restrictions.
  • Each department is responsible for initiating a Change Employment Status ePAR in ConnectCarolina when a shared leave recipient exhausts all leave and must be placed in leave-without-pay status.

Return to Work

During the period of leave, the department may require reports from the employee at reasonable intervals (generally 30 calendar days or more) on their status and intentions to return to work. An employee should notify the supervisor in writing if they will not be returning from leave as planned.

Failure to report back to work at the end of the scheduled leave may be considered a voluntary resignation. If deemed necessary, management may revoke continuation of any previously approved shared leave.

A “Medical Leave – Return to Work Form” must be completed when the employee returns to work or when it is determined that the employee will not return to work. Send the completed form to:

  • The Medical Leave Coordinator, Benefits Services Department, CB# 1045.

In some cases, department management may require additional medical certification as provided above to certify that the employee is able to return to work and perform the essential functions of the position. Department management should consult with the Office of Human Resources in making this determination.

Shared leave ends when the employee returns to work. However, employees who have returned to work from Family & Medical Leave on a reduced or intermittent work schedule may be approved for continued shared leave on a case-by-case basis.

An employee may retain up to 40 hours (pro-rated for part-time employees) of unused donated leave. These hours shall be moved from the employee’s shared leave record and placed in the employee’s sick leave record. Any additional unused donated leave shall be returned to the donors on a pro-rata basis and placed in the leave accounts from which they had been taken originally. (Fractions of one hour will not be returned to donors.) Donations from anyone who is no longer permanent State employee shall be forfeited.

If a shared leave recipient leaves state government, participation in the shared leave program ends as of the separation date. Unused donated leave will be returned to the donors on a pro-rata basis.

If an employee’s position has been abolished during the leave period due to a reduction in force, the employee is not entitled to reinstatement. However, a permanent employee will be eligible for severance pay and layoff priority as provided by the Layoff Policy. Supervisors must contact an employee as soon as it is known that an employee’s position is being eliminated.

Questions

If you have questions about your current leave balance, contact your school/division’s HR Office.

If you have questions about Medical Leave Policies, contact your school/division’s HR Office or contact the Benefits Consultant in the Office of Human Resources assigned to work with your department.

If you have questions about your benefits coverage related to medical leave, contact the Benefits Consultant in the Office of Human Resources assigned to work with your department.

Related subjects

Family & Medical Leave

Family Illness Leave

Leave Without Pay for SPA Employees

Faculty Serious Illness, Major Disability, and Parental Leave Policy

Sick Leave for SPA Employees

Determining Time Worked

Time Information Management (TIM) Project Web Site

Related forms

Medical and Parental Leave Request Form

Medical Leave Certification – Family Member

Medical Leave Certification – Employee

Medical Leave – Shared Leave Donation Form

Medical Leave – Return to Work Form