Sick Leave Guidelines

woman holding thermometer

The following process is designed to help describe the application of sick leave usage and/or medical leaves of absences. 

At Northern Michigan University, we are required to comply with federal regulations and yet be able to manage our leave administration efficiently.  An important federal regulation is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) which is a federal law that establishes guidelines for protecting private personal health information (protected health information, or PHI).  At NMU, only three individuals in the Human Resource Department have access to protected health information.  Therefore please note that medical information is only obtained through the Human Resources (HR) office and not through the supervisors.  Currently, the Assistant Director of HR, Labor and Employee Relations, will work with the supervisor and employee in managing the leave administration.

Sick Leave Forms

Clicking below will open a Word Document to a  sick leave form for the following employee groups:

For absences less than three (3) days, no documentation is needed and sick leave is recorded.

If you are or plan on being absent for three (3) or more days, please review the following guideline:

Procedure:  In the event that you or an employee is absent, or plan to be absent, for three (3) days or longer, please notify Human Resources: 

  1. Human Resources will supply a HIPAA form which the employee’s healthcare professional must complete.  The form will vary slightly based on whether the absence is for the employee or for a family member or designated individual*.  For planned absences, department consultation will be initiated for staffing purposes.
  2. Upon receipt of the form, Human Resources will determine if the absence is an approved leave and a determination will be made if the leave qualifies under the Family Medical Leave Act.  Human Resources will then send out documentation as to the dates of the leave and any available leave balances.  Determination will be made as to who will record the employee’s time for payroll purposes.  The supervisor will be copied on the documentation. 
  3. The employee and Human Resources are to remain in contact as to the employee’s return to work status, as indicated in the correspondence sent to the employee.  Human Resources will contact the department with any return-to-work date revisions. 

Please note that all care is taken to ensure the employee can safely return to the University.  If applicable, certain considerations are evaluated prior to an employee returning to work such as: 

  • Are accommodations requested and if so, do they pose an undue hardship on the employer? 
  • Is a fitness-for-duty examination required prior to returning to work?
  • Is coming back at reduced work hours an option?

Again, please remember that due to confidentiality, supervisors are not to solicit health information from employees.  Instead, the supervisor can contact Human Resources with questions or concerns.


DEFINITIONS:

Sick leave can be used for: 

  • Personal illness or incapacity over which the employee has no reasonable control.
  • Absence from work because of exposure to contagious disease which, according to public health standards, would constitute a danger to the health of others by the employee's attendance at work.
  • Medical and dental extractions or treatment to the extent of time required to complete such appointments when it is not possible to arrange such appointments during non-duty hours.

Employees may use sick leave after they have completed two (2) biweekly pay periods. Employees who work at least twenty (20) hours per week but less than forty (40) hours per week will be entitled to sick leave proportionate to the time actually worked.

Note:  Employees belonging to the AFSCME bargaining unit have sick leave reserve hours to use in addition to sick leave.  Medical documentation is required to use sick leave reserve hours.  Failure to provide satisfactory medical evidence of a serious health condition in a timely manner will result in payments from sick leave, if available, or lost time.


Short term disability

When all sick leave has been exhausted, full time employees who have been employed for at least one year and meet the requirements of short-term disability may apply for short-term disability benefits.   Upon receipt of satisfactory medical evidence of disability, Human Resources will authorize payment of seventy-five percent (75%) of the employee's regular salary and all of the employee's fringe benefit payments. Employees will use accumulated and unused annual leave and personal leave hours to make up the difference between the seventy-five percent (75%) short-term disability payment and full (100%) salary.  Once the available leave hours are exhausted, employees will receive short-term benefits (75% of regular salary) only.


Family Care Leave

An employee can use family care leave for the confining illness or injury (not routine medical/dental appointments) to members of the immediate family (spouse or designated individual, children, parents, parents-in-law, brothers, sisters) and any person for whom the employee is financially or physically responsible.

Once an employee exhausts any available family care leave, additional time required for the care of a family member must be taken as personal leave hours, annual leave, floating holiday, if available, or unpaid leave.

Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) - An employee is eligible for a 12-week unpaid FMLA Leave if she/he has been an employee for at least twelve (12) months and has been employed as an employee at least one thousand two hundred and fifty (1,250) hours during the twelve- (12) month period immediately preceding the leave effective date.

Recording of FMLA leave is only tracked in Human Resources and should not be entered in the time and recordkeeping system.  As indicated in Step 2 of the procedure above, documentation such as the FMLA Designation Notice will explain payment during the FMLA leave.

In most instances, leaves of absences of more than three days will count as FMLA leaves.  

FMLA leaves can be used for one of the following reasons:

  • An employee’s own serious health condition
  • The birth of a child, or placement of a child with you for adoption or foster care;
  • The need to care for the employee’s spouse, child, parent or designated individual due to his/her serious health condition
  • Because of a qualifying exigency arising out the fact the employee’s spouse, son or daughter, parent or designated individual is on active duty or call to active duty status in support of a contingency operation as a member of the National Guard or Reserves
  • Because the employee is a spouse, son or daughter, parent or next of kin of a covered service member with a serious injury or illness

An eligible employee who foresees the need for a leave of absence due to any of the above reasons should notify the Assistant Director of Human Resources, Employee and Labor Relations, as early as possible so that the absence can be scheduled at a time least disruptive to the Employer's operations. Such an employee must also give at least thirty (30) calendar days written notice, unless impractical, in which case the employee must provide as much written notice as circumstances permit. 

If the requested leave is due to the employee’s own serious health condition, the employee is first required to exhaust any available paid sick leave and short-term disability.  In the event the paid sick leave and short-term disability is not available, any portion of the remaining twelve (12) weeks of leave shall be unpaid. 

If the requested care is for the birth/care of a child, for the placement of a child for adoption or foster care, or to care for a spouse or designated individual, child, or parent who has a serious health condition, the employee is first required to exhaust any available paid leave.  Upon exhaustion of the paid leave, any portion of the remaining twelve (12) weeks of leave shall be unpaid. 

* The name of the designated individual must be on file with the Human Resources Department at least six (6) months prior to utilization of such leave.