The purpose of a personal leave is to provide staff members with approved time off for personal needs.
Service. Staff members must be in a benefits-eligible position and have worked at the University for at least 12 consecutive months.
Standing. Good standing is required in order to qualify for a personal leave.
Personal leave starts with use of accrued vacation and personal floating holidays. No sick time is paid during personal leave. After accrued vacation and personal floating holidays have been paid, the leave continues as unpaid leave.
The dependent care flexible spending account (DCFSA) is temporarily frozen during a leave of absence whether the leave is paid or unpaid. Commuter benefits are temporarily terminated when on a leave of absence. These benefits can only be used when the employee is actively at work. The deadline to make changes to commuter benefits is the 5th of the month prior. Please make any necessary changes prior to that deadline. For additional question on the commuter benefits, visit the Commuter Benefits page.
An individual on a paid personal leave will continue their benefits through payroll deduction. Changes cannot be made to benefit elections during a paid personal leave.
An individual on an unpaid personal leave can continue benefits by paying via direct bill. The University continues to pay the employer portion of the benefit. Employees have 31-days from the start of their unpaid personal leave to terminate their benefits if they choose to do so. You must reenroll when reinstated.
Employees have 31-days from the start of their unpaid personal leave to waive benefits elections. You will be billed on a monthly basis for your insurance premiums. You must reenroll within 31-days after being reinstated back to work.
If you would like to waive all or some of your benefits while on the unpaid personal leave, follow the steps below:
- Log into the myHR portal at https://myhr.northwestern.edu.
- Click on the “Benefits” tile.
- Click on “My Health Benefits Elections” from the menu on the left hand side.
- Click on “Manage/View Your Benefits”
- Click on “Life Event” on the left hand side and follow the rest of the prompts.
- A staff member must submit a Request for Unpaid Personal Leave of Absence form to the staff member's supervisor and Business Administrator/Head of Department. A supplemental letter outlining the leave must be completed by the staff member and turned in with the form. Thirty days notice is needed except in emergencies.
- The supervisor evaluates the request and either grants or denies it. The school's or department's operational and staffing needs, availability of replacements, reason for the staff member's request, and the staff member's job performance and attendance should be considered in deciding whether to grant a Personal Leave. The supervisor's signature and Business Administrator's/Head of Department's signature must appear on the completed form.
- The form and supplemental letter are then submitted to the assigned HR Business Partner for the school, department or unit at HRBP@northwestern.edu.
- The assigned HR Business Partner reviews the request for consistency and policy compliance. If the form is completed accurately, the HR Business Partner signs the form, notifies and returns the form to the supervisor and BA/Head of Department to let them know that the leave has been reviewed.
Procedures during the leave
- Supervisors/Department Administrators/ Business Administrators are responsible for the following steps:
- Complete a Position Data/Appointment Form to initiate the leave processing by signing into myHR and completing the form. Ensure that the appropriate action/reason code is recorded, as well as the staff member's expected return to work date. If you need assistance completing the Position Data/Appointment Form, contact Human Resource at askHR@northwestern.edu or 847-491-4700.
- Once the Position Data/Appointment Form is completed, the form should be uploaded to OnBase. If you need assistance with this process, contact Human Resource at askHR@northwestern.edu or 847-491-4700.
- To have the person reinstated to regular status, complete a Position Data/Appointment Form when the staff member returns from leave and upload into OnBase.
- The supervisor is responsible for entering the staff member's paid time off into the timekeeping system during the leave and notifying the appropriate Payroll representative of a monthly paid (MON) staff member's Unpaid Personal Leave to ensure that the corresponding reduction in pay is made.
- A staff member must exhaust all vacation and personal floating holiday time before any Unpaid Personal Leave of Absence is granted unless the leave is being requested because a staff member's work authorization has expired and the renewal is being sought in coordination with the International Office. Questions regarding entering a staff member's paid time off in the system can be directed to the Human Resources at 847-491-4700 or Email: askHR@northwestern.edu.
- If a staff member exhausts all available time off and additional Unpaid Personal Leave is granted, then the supervisor is responsible for completing another Position Data/Appointment Form.
- While on Personal Leave, staff members are expected to be reasonably responsive and communicative with their supervisor and department.
End of the leave
Return to work
Approval of the leave request does not guarantee job reinstatement. Reinstatement is at the discretion of the department. If the staff member is not reinstated or does not return to work when the Personal Leave ends and has not been approved for additional leave of absence or other reasonable accommodation as required by law, employment will be terminated. If the employee chose to terminate benefits coverage, they have 31-days from the date of reinstatement to reenroll. Coverage is effective the first of the month coinciding with or following the first of the month following reinstatement.