Policies & Procedures


Section 1

Human Resources

Sec. 300-14: UCI Catastrophic Leave Program Procedures

Responsible Office: Human Resources
July 2017

References / Resources

Contact: The Benefits Unit: wcdm@uci.edu or (949) 824-9152

A. Purpose and Scope

The Chancellor is authorized under DA 2085 to establish a Catastrophic Leave Program (Program). The UCI Program applies to campus, medical center and health sciences employees and permits salary and benefits continuation for non-represented and eligible represented UCI staff and eligible faculty who have exhausted all paid leave due to catastrophic personal circumstances, including:

  •        their own serious illness or injury;
  •        caring for a seriously ill member of the staff or eligible faculty member's family or household; or
  •        the death of a family member.

Subject to the stated eligibility requirements, salary and benefits continuation is achieved through donation of vacation credits from other UCI employees. Participation in the Program, by donors and recipients, is entirely voluntary.

B. Definitions

  • Donation: A minimum of eight vacation or Paid-Time Off (PTO) hours (with any additional hours in whole-hour increments) may be donated to a specific staff or eligible faculty member or to the General Pool for the use of any Eligible Recipient. Donations are irrevocable and are not tax deductible.
  • Donor: A UCI employee (staff or faculty) who wishes to donate vacation hours. The annual maximum donation must not be more than 50 percent of the donor's vacation or PTO balance at the time of the transfer. All donations are processed anonymously unless the donor requests otherwise. Many donors donate to the General Pool to keep their vacation/PTO accruals below the maximum.
  • Eligible Recipient: A UCI employee (staff or faculty) who has exhausted all leave credits; is on an approved leave of absence; is suffering from or whose family or household member is suffering from a serious health condition; and is not receiving or eligible to receive disability or workers’ compensation payments.
  • General Pool: Vacation or PTO hours that have been donated to the Program that have not been designated for a specific Eligible Recipient, as well as left-over donated hours that are not needed by the recipient for whom they were designated.
  • Serious illness or injury: A serious health condition of the employee or the employee’s family or household member, (e.g., spouse, child, parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, in-laws, step-relatives in the relationship) or individuals residing in the employee’s household. This serious health condition creates a financial hardship because the employee has exhausted all available leave credits and is not, or not yet, eligible for temporary disability benefits under the Basic or Voluntary Short-Term Disability Plan.

C. Eligibility and Limitations

Eligible Recipients:

  1. Are required to use any leave accrued during the previous pay period(s) prior to use of donated leave hours.
  2. May use donated hours only up to their regular appointment percentage in any pay period.
  3. May receive designated donated (if there are any) and General Pool hours during any unpaid portion of the Basic/Voluntary Short Term Disability Plan waiting period. Eligibility ends when Disability Plan benefits begin.
  4. May receive a maximum of 40 hours, per calendar year, from the General Pool to supplement their leave.
  5. May not receive any hours, or fewer than 40 hours, from the General Pool if there are not sufficient hours in the General Pool.

D. Responsibilities

  1. The Benefits Unit in Human Resources administers the Program.
  2. Human Resources will determine on a case-by-case basis whether a request to draw from the General Pool qualifies for catastrophic leave usage. An employee may appeal a Benefits Unit denial, in writing, to the Associate Chancellor–Human Resources for a final decision.

E. Procedures

  1. Donors can make a donation of a portion of their vacation leave to the Program.
  2. Eligible Recipients may submit a confidential request for catastrophic leave hours from the Program to the Benefits Unit, or an Eligible Recipient’s supervisor may submit a request on the employee's behalf. Each request should include:
    1. A request for a leave of absence due to catastrophic personal circumstances approved by the Eligible Recipient's supervisor/manager.
    2. When applicable, a Health Care Provider Certification of the serious illness or injury.

F. Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why is sick leave not included as part of the Program?

    Sick leave is not something an employee "owns" and, therefore, cannot be given away. For example, when an employee separates, accrued sick time is forfeited. An exception occurs if an individual retires from UC, in which case accrued sick leave is converted to UC Retirement Plan service credit.

  2. What is the effect of Basic Short- and Long-term disability benefits in relation to the Program?

    Catastrophic leave hours can be used to maintain an Eligible Recipient’s pay status during the disability benefits waiting period. Catastrophic leave hours cannot be used once the Eligible Recipient's disability waiting period is over and the disability benefits begin.

  3. May donations be made to any Eligible Recipient and not be limited to an Eligible Recipient's home department?

    Yes. The General Pool is available on a campus-wide basis to all eligible staff and faculty, across all fund sources, divisions, classifications and departments, subject to the stated eligibility requirements.

  4. Are donations permitted if they cross fund sources?

    Yes. UCI employs a "leave costing" approach whereby an assessment is made against the fund source at the time the vacation/PTO leave accrues. Ownership transfers to the employee at that moment, and they are free to donate the accrued leave, if desired, irrespective of the fund source that supplied it.

  5. Must donations be made anonymously?

    Generally, Donations are made anonymously. Anonymity prevents pressure from being placed on, or perceived by, employees who do not choose to donate hours, regardless of the reason for their decision. However, as a matter of personal discretion, Donors may choose to inform recipients of their action.