Faculty Medical and Family Leave and Disability Policies

Puget Sound’s Medical Leave, Family Leave, Parental Leave, and Extended Medical Leave Policies promote the well-being of faculty members and their families. By safeguarding the well-being of faculty, the university also demonstrates its commitment to the quality of students’ educational experience at Puget Sound.

General Policy

The university’s leave policies are provided in addition to all relevant federal, state and local laws, including FMLA (Federal Medical Leave Act, 1993), WFCA (Washington Family Care Act, 2002), WFLA (Washington Family Leave Act, 2006) and City of Tacoma Paid Leave Ordinance which are designed to provide eligible employees with job protected leave for specified family or medical reasons.

The University of Puget Sound offers the following leave benefits to full-time faculty members with one academic year of employment:

  • Personal Medical Leave and Extended Medical Leave provide faculty members with job protection and time off work in the case of an injury or illness, as outlined below. Personal Medical Leave also includes leave taken for pregnancy and postpartum recovery.
  • Family Medical Leave provides faculty members with job protection and time off work to care for a family member during a serious health condition or other routine health situation, as outlined below.
  • Parental Leave provides faculty members with job protection and time off work to care for newborn, newly adopted, or newly placed foster children, as outlined below.
  • Long-term Disability Insurance is sponsored by the university for full-time faculty with one academic year of service, as outlined below.

For the purpose of these policies, a six-week leave is considered equivalent to a one-unit release from teaching.

All faculty members, regardless of eligibility under these policies,[1] may use up to two weeks of paid leave to address their own or a family member’s health or safety needs as outlined under the City of Tacoma Paid Leave Ordinance.

Any paid or unpaid leave under these policies will run concurrent with federal, state and local leave benefits in a rolling twelve-month period as permitted by law. The university also allows for flexible staffing arrangements for full-time faculty members that can result in a reduced teaching load throughout the academic year with full health benefits; retirement plan contributions will be based on the proportion of contract salary received. For example, one unit of paid leave could be combined with two units of unpaid leave for a full semester leave at four-sixths contract salary and full benefits for the academic year.

When personal medical or family circumstances prevent a full-time faculty member from meeting his or her essential job functions[2] and are likely to be of short duration – two weeks or less – the department chair, program director, or school dean should assist the faculty member in making arrangements with other department members to carry out the faculty member’s immediate commitments. Faculty members’ support of their colleagues during such periods reflects the values of the campus community and contributes to a faculty member’s record of service.

To request a leave for a period longer than two weeks for a faculty member should submit the Faculty Leave Request Form to the Academic Vice President and to the Human Resources Benefits Manager. The Academic Vice President will organize communication with the faculty member, the department chair, and the Benefits Manager who may request appropriate documentation. In cases when leave is taken for a faculty member’s personal medical condition, the returning faculty member may be required to provide a written release from a health care provider specifying that returning to work will not exacerbate their medical condition and specifying limitations or requested accommodations, if any.

When eligible for a leave of six weeks (one unit) or more under one of these policies, a faculty member who submits a Faculty Leave Request Form to the Academic Vice President will automatically receive a release from service and advising during the semester(s) in which leave is available, even if leave from teaching is not taken. In addition, the faculty member will automatically receive a one-year delay in evaluation. Faculty members may choose to opt out of these releases and evaluation delay on the Faculty Leave Request Form. At a later date but no later than one semester before the academic year in which the file would ordinarily be due, the faculty member may modify the choice regarding the delay by notifying in writing the Head Officer and the Academic Vice President. This advance notice allows for a pattern of course visits by colleagues and for appropriate administration of Instructor and Course Evaluation forms needed for a fair and adequate evaluation to proceed.

Personal and Family Medical Leave

Eligible full-time faculty members may take paid leave of up to a total of six weeks or a one-unit course release from teaching in a rolling twelve-month period as personal and/or family medical leave. Personal medical leave addresses a medically certified physical or mental health condition that makes a faculty member unable to perform essential job functions. Pregnancy and recovery from childbirth (typically 6-8 weeks) are included in this policy. Family medical leave may be taken to care for a child, spouse, domestic partner, parent, parent-in-law, or grandparent with an emergency or serious health condition; a child with a routine illness; or an adult child with a disability. Paid personal and family leave may be combined with unpaid leave, for a total of the twelve weeks of leave in a twelve month period allowed for by federal and state law, to result in a variety of flexible staffing arrangements, as explained above.  Additional time off may be available for pregnancy disability.  Faculty members are not required to use paid leave during periods when classes are not in session; specific arrangements will be made on a case by case basis for up to a maximum of six weeks (or the equivalent) paid leave within one year of a medical event. If a personal or family medical event occurs during the one-year eligibility waiting period for a first-year faculty member, she or he may take a paid personal medical leave of absence of up to six weeks or a one-unit course release from teaching after attaining eligibility if the leave is completed within one year of the medical event.

Parental Leave

Eligible full-time faculty members may take an unpaid leave of absence of up eighteen weeks or a one semester release from teaching in a rolling twelve month period to care for a newborn, newly adopted, or newly placed foster child. A variety of flexible staffing arrangements are possible, as explained above. Parental leave must conclude within twelve months of the birth of a child or the placement of a foster or adopted child. When both parents are employed by the university, a total of up to eighteen weeks of parental leave may be shared between the two employees.[3]

Extended Medical Leave

Extended personal medical leave covers circumstances resulting from major injuries or chronic illnesses. Situations involving extended medical leave will normally be characterized by an extended period of treatment and recovery following a personal medical leave in which the faculty member is able to resume work activities on a regular basis, but at a less than full-time level. Extended medical leaves will normally be unpaid leaves. The interval for periodic review of the faculty member's need for continued extended medical leave is usually agreed upon by the faculty member and the Academic Vice President, but generally leave is not approved in increments longer than one year.

Revisions suggested by an ad hoc committee of the Faculty Senate, April 2015.

Endorsed by the Professional Standards Committee, April 2015.

Approved by the Academic and Student Affairs Committee of the Board of Trustees, February 2016.

Long-Term Disabilities

A long-term disability is a medically certified inability to fulfill the essential functions of a faculty position for six months or more. The university sponsors a long-term disability insurance plan for full-time faculty with one academic year of service. The one-year waiting period is waived if the faculty member was covered by total disability insurance within three months before employment with the university if the total disability insurance policy provided income benefits for five or more years of total disability. Both the university's long-term disability insurance plan and Social Security Disability benefits require a six-month waiting period. If a full-time faculty member with at least six years of full-time continuous service experiences a long-term disability, his/her regular salary will be continued during the six-month waiting period. For a faculty member with a long term disability with less than six years of service, the university will continue regular salary based on the following schedule:

1 year of service

1 and 1/2 months of salary continuance

2 years of service

2 months of salary continuance

3 years of service

3 months of salary continuance

4 years of service

4 months of salary continuance

5 years of service

5 months of salary continuance

6 years of service

6 months of salary continuance


For purposes of this policy, one month's salary is equivalent to one twelfth of the faculty member's contract salary. The six weeks of paid leave which a faculty member may obtain as personal medical leave is counted in calculating the period of salary continuance described above. Long-term disability leave will count against the faculty member's FMLA entitlement.

Faculty Members with Disabilities


In compliance with Sections 503 and 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Titles I and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, Puget Sound does not exclude otherwise qualified persons with disabilities from faculty positions.

The ADA protects "qualified individuals with disabilities" and defines disability as a medical or physical impairment which substantially limits a major life activity, such as walking, seeing, hearing, etc.; or as having a record of such an impairment; or as being regarded as having such an impairment. Applicants and faculty members are not required to identify themselves as having a disability; self-identification after employment is strictly voluntary. The qualifications and experience of all applicants and faculty members should be evaluated without regard to disability or any accommodations that may be necessary.

Application of Policy

A faculty member with a disability may request accommodation by consulting with his/her department chair and the Academic Vice President. Accommodations may include changes in facilities, equipment or practices that enable an otherwise qualified disabled faculty member to fulfill the essential functions of a faculty position described above. A reasonable accommodation is one which effectively allows the person to perform the essential job functions, while not placing an undue hardship on the university. Decisions about accommodations or undue hardships are made on an individual basis by the Academic Vice President. Department chairs should request assistance from the Academic Vice President in completing the process of reasonable accommodation.

Approved by the Professional Standards Committee, 3/6/98.

Approved by Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees, 3/25/98.

Updated July 1, 2012


[1] This includes part-time and full-time faculty members regardless of start date of employment.

[2] Essential job functions for a faculty member are outlined in Chapter I, Part C of the Faculty Code. The normal expectation is that faculty members teach six units a year, meet classes at regularly scheduled times during the full academic year, prepare for courses, grade student work, and keep office hours and scheduled appointments. Faculty members are expected to advise students, participate in university governance, and maintain an active scholarly life. Apart from classroom and other scheduled activities, faculty members do all these things at times that are convenient for them and suitable to their schedules.

[3] When an eligible female faculty member takes an FMLA leave for no longer than the actual period of incapacity associated with pregnancy or childbirth (usually 6-8 weeks), the balance of her twelve workweek FMLA entitlement (usually 4-6 weeks) falls under the FMLA parental leave guidelines. The initiation of the FMLA parental leave also initiates the female faculty member's twelve work weeks of Washington State Family Leave. As a result, the balance of the female faculty member's FMLA parental leave and her Washington State Family Leave may run concurrently for a period of time. Once the female faculty member's FMLA entitlement is exhausted, her leave conditions are governed by State law. (This means that a female faculty member may be entitled to six weeks of paid personal medical leave and up to twelve additional weeks of unpaid parental leave.)