Sick Leave for Academic Staff Members

This statement explains the appropriate use of sick leave, as well as the number of sick days available, how they accumulate, the order in which they must be used, when they are eligible for payment, and options at retirement.

Sick leave may be used for illness of, injury to, or need to obtain medical or dental consultation for the staff member, the staff member’s spouse, children, parent, or members of the household. A staff member may use sick leave for pregnancy. Following the adoption or birth of a child, sick leave may be used for a period of time, not to exceed twelve weeks, to care for that child. No deduction of time from sick leave is made at a time when a staff member is not expected to furnish regular service to the University.

Effective January 1, 1998, academic and administrative staff members who are participants in the State Universities Retirement System (SURS) or Federal Retirement System (except for medical residents, postdoctoral research associates, and annuitants in SURS or the Federal Retirement System), and who are appointed for at least 50 percent time to a position for which service is expected to be rendered for at least nine consecutive months, will earn sick leave of 12 work days for each appointment year, the unused portion of which shall accumulate without maximum. If these 12 days are fully utilized in any appointment year, up to 13 additional workdays will be available for extended sick leave in that appointment year, no part of which 13 days shall be cumulative or eligible for payment. No additional sick leave is earned for a summer appointment. In the case of an appointment for less than a full appointment year, the 12 days cumulative and the 13 days noncumulative leave shall be prorated.

In the event the 25 days of earned and extended sick leave described above, or any proration thereof, are exhausted in an appointment year, prior year balances may be used in the following order:

  1. Noncompensable: sick leave accrued before 1/1/84 and on or after 1/1/98 will be combined into a single balance of noncompensable sick leave.
  2. After noncompensable balances have been exhausted, compensable sick leave earned between 1/1/84 and 12/31/97.
  3. Subject to the approval of the chancellor, a full–time academic staff member who has completed at least three full years of service may be granted noncumulative sick leave with full pay for a period not to exceed one-half of the staff member’s appointment year (including the sick leave already taken). (In the case of academic staff members of university administration offices, the president will act.) (See Family and Medical Leave in this manual for information on the University’s Family and Medical Leave policy.)

An academic staff member who has not accumulated sufficient sick leave and who has not completed three full years of service may, with the approval of the unit, utilize accumulated and unused vacation and/or request leave without pay.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 entitles eligible employees up to twelve weeks of unpaid (or paid) leave for illness and certain family reasons. In some cases of catastrophic injury or illness, eligible employees may also apply to use shared benefits from the sick leave pool. (See Shared Benefits (Sick Leave) for Academic Staff in this manual for a description of the Shared Benefits program for academic staff.)

Short-Term and Part-Time Appointments

Staff members on appointment for less than a full appointment year receive a prorated share of the 12 cumulative and 13 noncumulative days. Staff members on part-time appointment receive the 12 and 13 days at the percentage of their appointment. If the percentage of the appointment changes, the previously accumulated sick leave days must be converted to the equivalent number of days at the new percentage.

Postdoctoral Research Associates, Medical Residents, Graduate Assistants, Annuitants in SURS or the Federal Retirement System, and Other Ineligible Appointments

By special action of the University Planning Council, the following academic staff members are eligible for 13 noncumulative/noncompensable sick leave days per appointment year at the percentage of their appointments. (They are not eligible to receive compensation for accumulated sick leave upon termination of employment.)

  1. Postdoctoral research associates and medical residents;
  2. Graduate assistants and other students appointed for less than 100% time;
  3. Annuitants in SURS or the Federal Retirement System; and
  4. Other academic staff members appointed for less than 50% time or for less than a continuous 9-month period.
  5. F and J visa holders who have not yet met the substantial presence requirement and are ineligible to participate in SURS.

Sick Leave Accumulation and Compensation

Under Public Act 90-65 and actions of the Board of Trustees, one-half of the number of days of unused sick leave earned and accumulated between January 1, 1984 and December 31, 1997, is eligible for payment upon an employee’s death, retirement, resignation, or other termination of employment.

Academic or administrative staff members who, on December 31, 1983, had an unused balance of accumulated sick leave, retained the same to a maximum of 180 work days, which may be utilized either (1) for establishing service credit in the State Universities Retirement System; or (2) for sick leave before accumulated compensable sick leave is utilized by the staff member. Unused sick leave earned by an academic or administrative staff member between January 1, 1984 and December 31, 1997, may be accumulated up to a maximum of 240 work days, and upon termination of employment, a staff member may designate a portion of the accumulation (up to one-half) to be paid pursuant to Public Act 90-65, and the remainder thereof will be utilized for establishing service credit in the State Universities Retirement System. Pre-January 1, 1984 and post January 1, 1998, accumulations of sick leave are to be utilized in full prior to the utilization of January 1, 1984 through December 31, 1997, accumulations.

If a staff member prefers, he/she may elect to have all of his/her compensable sick leave balance applied toward service credit in the Retirement System (providing retirement is effective within 60 days after employment is terminated). This is accomplished by signing a Sick Leave Waiver Form which is submitted to Academic Human Resources at the same time the Electronic Change of Status is submitted.

If a staff member chooses to be paid for half of his/her compensable sick leave balance, compensation must be in the form of a lump sum, which will normally be included in the employee’s final paycheck. The Academic Separation form accompanying the Electronic Change of Status must indicate the balance of the number of compensable sick leave days remaining upon termination. The unit will calculate the final amount due the staff member based on the figures given on the Academic Separation form and the last salary of the appointment in which the staff member accrued sick leave. Only academic staff members who were eligible to earn compensable sick leave may receive compensation for accumulated sick leave. Those groups ineligible for compensation are listed above. Please note: postdoctoral research associates may not be compensated but other research associates are eligible.

Transfer and Reinstatement of Accumulated Sick Leave

  • Transfer between employee groups

    When transferring from one employee group to another on campus without a break in employment, the portion of accumulated sick leave days which meets the criterion for payment must be transferred with the individual and noted in a memo in the Electronic Change of Status. Compensable balances must be listed separately from noncompensable balances. However, if an individual transfers to an appointment that is not eligible to accrue sick leave, the compensable balance earned on the previous appointment should be paid out using the same guidelines described above.

  • Transfer from a State agency or other institution subject to the State Universities Civil Service System (SUCSS)

    If a staff member of a State agency or other institution subject to SUCSS transfers to the University of Illinois within 120 days of separation from that agency or employer, his/her unused and uncompensated sick leave may be transferred to the University. The transferred sick leave days will be treated as noncompensable.

  • Reinstatement upon re-employment

    Academic staff members who terminate their employment with the University and then return to the University within a period of two calendar years may request reinstatement of the balance of accumulated sick leave from the earlier University appointment that was not compensated at the time of separation.

The restored sick leave days will be added to and treated in the same manner as noncompensable days. This provision applies only to individuals whose earlier appointment with the University made them eligible for earning accruable sick leave. It does not apply to postdoctoral research associates, medical residents, annuitants, and those who would otherwise not be eligible to earn accruable sick leave (e.g., those with appointments which are less than 50% time and/or for less than a continuous 9–month period).

A law effective January, 1992, requires employees who resign or retire from service and are paid for accrued vacation and sick leave to repay the lump sum amount received for that leave if the employee returns to benefits eligible employment with the University within 30 days of the separation. The repayment is not required if the employee returns to a non–benefits eligible position (e.g., academic hourly). In addition, the law specifically covers only employees who retire or resign. It does not apply to involuntary separation from service.

Further questions concerning sick leave policy for academic staff members should be directed to the Office of Academic Human Resources, (217) 333-6747.