(Approved by USM BOR on April 21, 2017; UMGC President on July 1, 2017)
Purpose and Applicability
This policy governs voluntary Leave of Absence Without Pay (LWOP) for University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) Nonexempt, Exempt and Overseas Staff employees on Regular Status. Nonexempt Staff employees who are included in the representation of the collective bargaining unit are subject to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and the applicable UMGC HR policies; where there is a conflict between the two, the MOU will prevail.
Leave Not Covered by This Policy
Emergency Military Leave, Temporary Military Leave, and indefinite Military Leave shall be granted to eligible employees in accordance with applicable State and Federal law, and shall be governed by VII-7.23 UC – UMGC Policy on Time Off for Military Training and Military Administrative Time Off.
Leave for family and medical reasons shall be granted to eligible employees in accordance with applicable State and Federal law, and shall be governed by VII-7.50-GC – UMGC Policy on Family and Medical Leave for Nonexempt, Exempt and Overseas Staff Employees.
Granting of requests for a LWOP is a privilege and shall be at the discretion of the CHRO or designee after consideration and determination of the following:
Unless LWOP is granted as a request for an accommodation based on an employee's disability, the employee shall:
hold a Regular Status position working at 50% Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) or more;
have completed a total of at least 12 months of FTE service at UMGC;
have a satisfactory record of work performance; and
not have a record of abuse of accrued leave usage.
For recently hired employees who have not completed the 12 month FTE requirement, the CHRO shall consider the reasons for the LWOP request and make a determination in accordance with applicable procedures.
Depending upon the reason for the LWOP request, the CHRO or designee may require that accrued Sick Leave, Annual Leave, Personal Leave, Holiday Leave and/or Compensatory Leave (in the case of Nonexempt employees) be used prior to granting a LWOP request.
Granting of the request shall not disrupt or interfere with the operations or work schedules of UMGC.
The CHRO or designee shall notify the UMGC Payroll Office upon approval of LWOP for the employee.
Duration of LWOP
All eligible Nonexempt, Exempt and Overseas Staff employees on Regular Status may request a full or partial LWOP up to a maximum of 30 calendar days in accordance with the provisions of this policy, unless an exception is approved by the CHRO.
Reasons for LWOP
LWOP may be requested by an eligible employee for reasons such as:
loan of an employee to another governmental agency, higher education institution or related organization;
professional activities related to, advanced study, career development, or other professional activities that are determined by the CHRO or designee to be of benefit to UMGC; or
other activities as determined to be appropriate by the CHRO.
Unless otherwise agreed to by the employee and the CHRO or designee, a LWOP granted within the provisions of this policy assures the employee a right to return to the same position or to another equivalent position within the same department having the same pay, benefits, other terms and conditions of employment status and responsibilities as the former position upon expiration of the leave. If there is a change in pay, benefits, or other terms and conditions of employment while the employee is on LWOP that would have affected the employee had LWOP not been taken, then when the employee returns to employment the employee's pay, benefits and other terms and conditions of employment will be adjusted as it would have been had the employee not taken LWOP.
If during the leave the CHRO or designee determines that the position cannot be held available, the employee shall be provided written notification of the decision and shall be provided information regarding the equivalent position to which the employee shall be returned upon expiration of the leave. The employee shall have the right to return to work within 15 working days from receipt of such notice in order to keep the position from which the leave was taken.
If there are reductions in the work force while the employee is on leave and the employee would have lost the position had leave not been taken, then except as provided under VII-1.30-GC – UMGC Policy on Layoff for Nonexempt Staff Employees, VII-1.31-GC – UMGC Policy on Reemployment and Reinstatement, or VII-1.32-GC – UMGC Policy on Layoff and Recall of Exempt and Overseas Staff Employees, an employee has no rights under this policy to be returned to the former or to an equivalent position.
An employee on LWOP shall not return from leave prior to the agreed upon expiration of the leave without written approval of the CHRO or designee.
Service credit shall not be granted to an employee on LWOP.
An employee may elect to purchase service credit at the time of retirement for prior leaves without pay that are qualified by the Maryland State Retirement and Pension Systems. Upon approval of a LWOP, an employee shall follow UMGC procedure to assure that this option may be exercised.
When LWOP is approved for employees who are on probation status, the probation period shall be adjusted upon the return of the employee by the length of time used for LWOP.
Status of Benefits While on LWOP
All benefits, including health care and service credit for retirement and other purposes, shall be suspended for the period of the LWOP. However, an employee on LWOP for more than 30 days may elect to continue health care and other benefits, as permitted by law or regulation, by paying the full cost of the benefits, including the share ordinarily paid by UMGC.
An employee who elects to discontinue health benefits may not re-enroll in the State of Maryland health benefits program within the same benefit year without certification that the employee has been enrolled in another health plan during the period of leave.
Under exceptional circumstances and on a case-by-case basis, the CHRO or designee may approve the continuation of the employer's subsidy for health care benefits if the reason for the leave is determined by the CHRO or designee to be of benefit to UMGC. Employer costs of any payments made to maintain the employee's health benefit coverage while on a LWOP shall be recovered if the employee fails to return from leave.
Sick and Annual Leave do not accrue while employees are on LWOP. Employees do not earn leave credit for holidays falling within the LWOP period.
While Overseas Staff employees are on LWOP, logistic support may be suspended in accordance with applicable practices and regulations.
Required Information Regarding the LWOP
The employee shall provide complete, accurate and timely information related to the request for, continuation of, modification(s) to, and return from leave. Upon request of the CHRO or designee, an employee granted LWOP shall provide progress reports and/or verification that the conditions of the leave are being/were met.
Failure to Return from Leave
An employee who will not be returning to UMGC at the conclusion of a leave shall notify the CHRO or designee in writing as soon as practicable. In the absence of written notification, failure to return from leave shall be interpreted as a resignation. The CHRO or designee shall notify the UMGC Payroll Office of return or resignation of the employee.
The UMGC President has designated the Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) to administer this policy; to develop procedures as necessary to implement this policy; to communicate this policy to the UMGC community; and to post the policy and any applicable procedures on the UMGC website.
USM BOR VII-7.12: Policy on Leave of Absence Without Pay for Nonexempt and Exempt Staff Employees
UMGC OS 23.00: Policy on Leave of Absence Without Pay