Human Resources

Sec. 300-14: UCI Catastrophic Leave Program Guidelines

Responsible Office: Human Resources
March 2009

References / Resources

  • Personnel Policies for Staff Members
    • Policy 2.210, Absence From Work Policy: Vacation, Sick Leave, and Leave of Absence
    • Policy 31, Hours of Work
    • Policy 32, Overtime (Non-Exempt Employees Only)

Contact: Disability Management at wcdm@uci.edu or (949) 824-7008

A. Introduction

The Catastrophic Leave Program permits salary and benefits continuation for non-represented and eligible represented UCI staff who have exhausted all paid leave due to their own serious illness or injury or to care for a seriously ill member of the employee's family or household. Subject to the stated eligibility requirements, salary and benefits continuation is achieved through donation of vacation credits from other University employees.

B. Authority and Responsibility

  1. Administration of the program will be handled by the Disability Management Unit in the Human Resources Department.
  2. Human Resources will determine on a case-by-case basis whether a request to draw from the general pool qualifies for Catastrophic Leave usage. An employee may appeal a Human Resources determination to the Assistant Vice Chancellor-Human Resources for a final decision.

C. Definition

A catastrophic illness or injury is a serious, debilitating illness or injury that incapacitates the employee or a member of the employee's family or household and creates a financial hardship because the employee has exhausted all eligible paid leave credits.

D. Eligibility

To be an eligible recipient of donated leave hours, an employee must comply with the following:

  1. The request for a leave of absence for a catastrophic illness or injury must be approved by the employee's supervisor/manager.
  2. Recipient must have exhausted all paid leave accruals and must not be receiving disability benefits or Workers' Compensation payments.
  3. Recipient may use donated catastrophic leave hours only during the waiting period.

E. Procedures

  1. Donor and recipient requests are submitted in confidence to Human Resources.
  2. Donors may indicate the name of the employee(s) to whom they wish to donate vacation time or they may donate vacation hours to a general pool without specifying a recipient.
  3. A request to receive donated vacation leave must be accompanied by a physician's written verification of the illness or injury.
  4. All donations are processed anonymously unless the donor requests otherwise.
  5. Donations are not tax deductible.
  6. Participation in the program, for donors and recipients, is entirely voluntary.

F. Limitations

  1. Prior to receiving donated leave through this program, an employee must first exhaust all paid accruals, including sick leave, vacation leave and compensatory time.
  2. A recipient is required to use any leave accrued during the previous pay period(s) prior to use of donated leave hours.
  3. In any pay period, recipients may use donated hours only up to their regular appointment percentage.
  4. A recipient may receive a maximum of 40 hours, per calendar year, from the general pool to supplement the leave, if there are insufficient donations to cover the waiting period prior to University Paid or Supplemental Disability.
  5. Donations must be a minimum of eight hours with any additional hours in whole-hour increments. The annual maximum donation must not be more than 50 percent of the donor's vacation balance at the time of the transfer.

G. Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why is sick leave not included as part of the program?

    Sick leave is not something an employee "owns" and, therefore, cannot be given away. It is essentially an insurance policy. For example, when an employee terminates, accrued sick time is forfeited. An exception occurs if an individual retires from UC, in which case accrued sick leave has an impact on computation of the retirement benefit.

  2. What is the effect of short-and long-term disability benefits in relation to the program?

    Once time is donated to an eligible employee, that employee is placed on active pay status. When an employee is on pay status, they are not eligible for short-or long-term disability during that same time period. Donated time may be used during the employee's disability waiting period, but disability benefits will not be payable until the waiting period is over and the employee is no longer on active pay status.

  3. May donations be made to any employee and not be limited to an employee's home department?

    Yes. The catastrophic leave pool is available on a campus-wide basis to all eligible staff, across all fund sources, divisions, classifications and departments.

  4. Are donations permitted if they cross fund sources?

    Yes. UCI employs a "leave costing" approach whereby an assessment is made against the fund source at the time the leave accrues. Ownership transfers to the employee at that moment, and they are free to donate the accrued leave, if desired, irrespective of the fund source that supplied it.

  5. May an employee donate time to a central donation bank?

    Yes. There is a general donation bank, however, donations may also be designated for a specific employee. Many donors donate vacation hours to the general bank to keep their vacation accruals below the maximum.

  6. Must donations be made anonymously?

    Generally, it will be assumed that donations are being made anonymously. Anonymity prevents pressure from being placed on, or perceived by, employees who do not choose to donate hours, regardless of the reason for their decision. However, as a matter of personal discretion, donors may choose to inform recipients of their action.

  7. What happens to left-over donated hours that are not needed by the recipient?

    Since donations are irrevocable, hours not needed by the recipient are transferred to the general bank.