Catastrophic Leave Program

UCI Catastrophic Leave Program provides policy and procedures for eligible academic appointees who wish to donate vacation leave hours or request sick leave hours under this program.

I.  Policy

The Catastrophic Leave Program permits salary and benefits continuation for eligible employees who have exhausted all paid leave due to their own serious illness or injury or due to the need to care for a seriously ill member of the employee’s family or household. Subject to the stated eligibility requirements outlined below, salary and benefits continuation is achieved through donations of vacation credits from the employee’s colleagues.

II.  Definitions

A.  Catastrophic hardship

A catastrophic illness or injury is one 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 leave credits. (A family member is defined as the employee’s spouse, parent, child, sibling, grandparent or grandchild; in-laws and step relatives in these relationships; and other persons residing in the employee’s household where there is a personal obligation.)

B.  Serious, debilitating illness

A serious, debilitating illness or injury is defined as any illness, injury (including on-the-job injury after all Workers Compensation benefits have been exhausted), impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves:

  1. any period of incapacity or treatment in connection with or consequent to an overnight stay in a hospital, hospice, or residential medical care facility; or
  2. any period of incapacity requiring absence from work, school, or regular daily activities for more than three calendar days, that also involves continuing treatment by a health care provider; or
  3. continuing treatment for a chronic or long-term health condition that is incurable or so serious that, if not treated, would likely result in a period of incapacity for more than three calendar days; or
  4. any period of incapacity due to complications from pregnancy that are life threatening for the mother or child; or
  5. any absence to receive multiple treatments (including any period of recovery therefrom) by, or referral by, a licensed health care provider for a condition that likely would result in incapacity of more than three consecutive days if left untreated (e.g., chemotherapy, physical therapy, dialysis, etc.).

Examples of illness or injury that qualifies for Catastrophic Leave Program include heart attacks, heart conditions requiring heart bypass or valve operations, most cancers, back conditions requiring extensive therapy or surgical procedures, strokes, severe respiratory conditions, spinal injuries, appendicitis, pneumonia, emphysema, severe arthritis, severe nervous disorders, and injuries caused by serious accidents on or off the job.

The types of illness or injury that do not qualify are common cold, sore throat, sprained ankle, broken arm (assuming no complications), etc.

III.  Donating Leave Hours

A.  Eligibility

STAFF: All regular career status staff employees who are non-exclusively represented (99) or who are exclusively represented by a union that has reached agreement on the application of the Catastrophic Leave Program.

ACADEMIC: All fiscal-year academic employees (non-student titles) are eligible to donate vacation leave credits. Faculty appointed on an academic-year basis are not eligible to participate in the program because they do not accrue vacation or sick leave. (See Appendix A, Eligible Academic Appointees, for a list of applicable titles).

B.  Limitations

Eligible staff and academic donors may contribute vacation time in hourly units, with a minimum donation of eight (8) hours. The annual maximum donation is 50 percent of the donor’s annual leave accrual entitlement or 50 percent of the donor’s vacation balance at the time of transfer, whichever is less

  1. Donations cannot be made in advance of accrual.
  2. Donations are not tax deductible.

C.  Guidelines for Donation

  1. Eligible Staff employees may make a Catastrophic Leave Donation by completing the Staff Employee Catastrophic Leave Donation Form and submitting it in confidence to Human Resources. Eligible academic employees may make a Catastrophic Leave Donation by completing the Catastrophic Leave Program Donation Form (Form UCI-AP-78) and submitting it to Academic Personnel. (See Administration, Section V, of this Policy.)
  2. Donors may indicate the name of the employee(s) to whom they wish to donate vacation hours, or they may donate the vacation hours to a general pool without specifying a recipient.
  3. Donations will be processed in the order received.
  4. All donations are processed anonymously unless the donor requests otherwise.
  5. Participation is entirely voluntary.

IV.  Applying for Catastrophic Leave

A. Eligibility

STAFF: All regular career status staff employees who are non-exclusively represented (99) or who are exclusively represented by a union that has reached agreement on the application of the Catastrophic Leave Program.

ACADEMIC: Fiscal-year academic employees who hold titles that accrue sick leave are eligible to participate in the program as recipients of donated leave. (See Appendix A, Eligible Academic Appointees, for a list of eligible titles.)

B. Limitations

  1. Prior to receiving donated leave through this program, an employee must first exhaust all paid accruals, including sick leave, vacation leave, compensatory time, and paid time off hours and must not be receiving Employee-Paid Disability or Workers’ Compensation payments.
  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. (As an example, an employee with a 50% appointment may not use more than 20 hours of donated time per week.)

C. Guidelines

  1. Interested staff and academic employees should review the eligibility criteria in Section IV. A. above to assure requirements are met.
  2. STAFF: A leave of absence must be approved by the employee’s supervisor/manager in relation to a catastrophic illness or injury suffered by the employee or by a member of the employee’s family or household.
  3. ACADEMIC: A leave of absence must be approved by the Executive Vice Chancellor, or Dean, as appropriate, upon the recommendation of the Chair and/or Dean.
  4. Eligible staff should complete the appropriate Catastrophic Leave Program Leave Request Form for Staff Employees and submit it to Human Resources. Eligible academic recipients who wish to request hours should complete the Catastrophic Leave Request Form for Academic Appointees (Form UCI-AP-79) and submit it to Academic Personnel. (See Administration, Section V, of this policy.)

V.  Administration

The Catastrophic Leave Program will be administered jointly by the Human Resources Compensation Unit and by the Office of Academic Personnel. These offices will determine, on a case-by-case basis, whether a request qualifies for Catastrophic Leave usage.

  1. Staff employees submit completed forms to Human Resources, 111 Theory, Suite 200, Zotcode 4600. Inquiries may be directed to (949) 824-9152.
  2. Academic employees submit completed forms to Academic Personnel, Room 354 Aldrich Hall, Zotcode 1015. Inquiries may be directed to (949) 824-7175.

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