Paid Sick Leave

I.      Policy
The University of Puget Sound provides paid sick leave benefits to compensate for those occasional instances when a staff member’s absences are necessitated to care for their health and the health of their family members. For purposes of this policy, “staff member” includes student staff. Section III outlines the different accrual methods for regular staff, temporary staff and student staff.

II.    Eligibility and Scope
All staff members are eligible to accrue paid sick leave. The rate at which sick leave is accrued is based on the staff member’s employment status. See “Sick Leave Accrual” below for applicable accrual rates.

Staff members are eligible to use accrued sick leave in the following circumstances:

  • An absence resulting from a staff member’s mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition, including pregnancy and childbirth;
  • To care for a family member (as defined under Washington State’s Paid Sick Leave Law and Washington's Paid Family & Medical Leave (WAPFML)) with a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition;
  • For preventative care such as a medical, dental, or optical appointment and/or treatment for self or family member;
  • Closure of the university or a child’s school/place of care by order of a public official for any health-related reasons;
  • If a staff member or a staff member’s family member is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking as defined under Washington State’s Domestic Violence Act.

III.   Sick Leave Accrual

Accrued sick leave is available for use for the qualified circumstances described above. The paid sick leave accrual year is the calendar year (January through December) with leave hours rolling forward to the new year following the last payroll in December.

Staff members in full and part-time regular and long-term temporary (appointments of six months or more) positions will receive the equivalent of twelve (12) days of sick leave upon hire.  They will begin accruing sick leave one year from their effective date of employment.

After one year of service, full and part-time regular and long-term temporary staff members accrue sick leave each pay period, equivalent to twelve (12) days per year. For staff members in non-exempt positions, or an exempt staff member with leave without pay, the formula to determine sick leave earnings is .046154 times the number of hours worked and/or paid leave hours during the pay period. Sick leave does not accrue on overtime hours worked. There is not a cap on the number of sick leave hours that may be accrued in a year but at the end of each calendar year a maximum of 1040 unused paid sick leave hours will carry over to the following year.

All other staff members, including a staff member in a short-term temporary appointment (under six months) and student staff, will accrue paid sick leave at a minimum rate of one (1) hour of paid sick leave for every forty (40) hours of work and/or paid leave. Sick leave is accrued on all hours worked. There is not a cap on the number of sick leave hours that may be accrued in a year but at the end of each calendar year a maximum of 40 unused paid sick leave hours will carry over to the next year.

Staff members who transfer from one department to another will retain unused, accrued sick leave hours which are available for immediate use.

Staff members with more than one job will have a single sick leave accrual. Accrued sick leave may be used for any current Puget Sound job.

In order to ensure staff are able to stay home when sick, a negative sick leave balance equivalent to twelve (12) days will be permitted for staff members in full and part-time regular and long-term temporary positions. The maximum negative accrual is ninety-six (96 hours).  If the negative balance reaches 96 hours any uncovered sick time taken during the period will be leave without pay unless the staff member chooses to use available vacation time.  Sick leave accruals will be applied to the negative balance until it is eliminated.

Accrued, unused sick leave is not compensable on termination of employment, except as provided in the Retirement from University Employment policy.

Any staff or student staff member who is rehired within one year of termination of employment will be credited with the unused, accrued sick leave as recorded in the leave reporting system of record at the time of their termination.

IV.    Sick Leave Use

When an unforeseen personal or family member illness occurs which prevents a staff member from reporting to work, the staff member should notify their supervisor as soon as reasonably possible prior to the start of their shift. If the absence continues for more than one day, the staff member must notify their supervisor each day as soon as reasonably possible prior to the start of their shift unless alternate arrangements have been made in advance. Failure to notify a supervisor may result in corrective action, up to and including termination of employment.

A staff member must be the one to notify the supervisor unless he or she is medically unable to do so. A staff member should provide notification directly to a supervisor, unless another individual has been officially authorized by the department to accept notification of absences.

Staff members will receive their regular hourly rate for all hours paid under the sick leave policy. For staff with multiple positons with different pay rates, the hourly rate will be determined by the position under which the sick leave was reported.

Sick leave for part-time staff and student staff members is not intended to extend the number of approved hours in a scheduled shift or the number of approved workdays in the year. Sick leave may only be reported when a staff member is unable to work a regularly scheduled or previously planned shift.

If an exempt staff member works any part of a day, no sick leave should be recorded for that day. An exempt staff member on approved intermittent leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) may be required to report sick leave in quarter hour increments.

If a staff member is on FMLA and uses sick leave during their absence, their paid leave will run concurrently with FMLA leave. See the Family & Medical Leave policy for details on leave usage while on FMLA.

If a staff member is approved for paid leave through Washington’s paid family & medical leave (WAPFML), they cannot use sick leave at the same time they are collecting benefits through the state program.  It is the staff member’s decision if they want to use sick leave or WAPFML.  Both run concurrently with FMLA.

Applying for WAPFML is through the state’s paid leave website.  Details about the benefits available, the information needed in order to apply and instructions on how to apply are available on this site, as well as a calculator to estimate weekly benefits.

The university will not discriminate or retaliate against staff members for the authorized use of paid sick leave. If a staff member feels they are being discriminated or retaliated against, the staff member should contact Human Resources. If the staff member is not satisfied with the university’s response, the staff member may contact the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries.

V.    Medical Certification and Return to Work
If a staff member has used paid sick leave for an authorized purpose for more than three consecutive days, the university may require documentation from a health care provider confirming the use of paid sick leave was for a qualified purpose as described in section II – Eligibility and Scope. Such documentation must be forwarded to the Benefits Manager in Human Resources within 14 days of the first day of paid sick leave usage.

If a staff member believes that obtaining the required documentation would result in an unreasonable burden or expense, they should contact the Benefits Manager at benefits@pugetsound.edu. The staff member will be asked to explain why it would be an unreasonable burden or expense so a potential alternative can be considered. If the staff member is not satisfied with the alternatives, they may consult with the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries.

Staff members on FMLA for their own health condition may be required to provide a fitness-for-duty certificate from a health care provider as a condition of their return from leave. This certificate must be forwarded to the Benefits Manager in Human Resources prior to the expected return-to-work date. If a staff member is not released to full duty, the Benefits Manager will coordinate with the staff member’s supervisor to discuss limitations and determine if light duty is available. More information on FMLA is located here.

VI.  Workers' Compensation Time Loss Benefits/Sick Leave Supplementation
Regular staff members who are injured on the job and who are released from work for over three days following the date of injury are eligible to supplement their time-loss benefits with sick or vacation leave payments. See the Workplace Safety policy for details.

 VII.  Responsibilities

All requests to use accrued sick leave hours will be acted on by a staff member’s supervisor or department head. Abuse of the sick leave policy may result in corrective action.

The leave reporting system of record maintains records of sick leave earned and used. Individual sick leave balances for a pay period are displayed on the staff member’s pay advice.

Origination Date: 9/1958
Revised: 2007, 3/16/2011, 1/2013, 4/2013, 2/2018, 8/2020