HR Operations

Leave of absence without pay

“Leave of absence without pay” describes an unpaid, approved leave of absence.

The University may allow a leave of absence without pay for the following reasons:

  • Illness, disability, or injury
  • Parental leave
  • Educational leave
  • Military leave
  • Leave for government service in public interest
  • Leave related to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking
  • Other personal reasons that may be approved at your department’s discretion

Requesting leave of absence without pay

To request a leave of absence without pay, submit a written request to your supervisor. Your request must identify the reason and duration of the requested leave. Leave without pay should not exceed 12 months, unless your leave is related to military duty.

If endorsed by your supervisor, your request will then be processed in accordance with your department’s leave approval procedure.

Requests for a leave of absence without pay also require approval by the appropriate vice president or dean if your leave is taken for education, government service, or personal reasons. Such requests will only be approved if your supervisor is reasonably certain that your position will still be available when you return from leave.

For medical center employees, unpaid leave of more than 10 working days, including holidays, must be approved by both the department and UW Medicine HR Operations.

Use of paid leave first

In most cases, you must deplete your accrued paid leave before taking unpaid leave, unless you are on:

However, the specific terms and conditions under which you may take leave without pay versus paid leave are defined your employment program or collective bargaining agreement.


When it comes to unpaid leave, the University will continue to pay its portion of your health insurance only under certain circumstances. Contact the Benefits office about continuing your benefits during your leave without pay.

Annual and sick leave accrual

You do not accrue any annual or sick leave hours during a calendar month in which you have taken more than 10 equivalent days of your FTE as leave without pay. For a 1.0 FTE, that would be 80 hours; for a 0.5 FTE, that would be 40 hours. The 10 equivalent days includes any holidays that you took without pay.

Additionally, your annual leave accrual month gets adjusted for every month in which you have taken more than 10 equivalent days of leave without pay. For example, if your accrual month is February and at some point in time, you have one month in which you use more than 10 equivalent days of leave without pay, then your new accrual month becomes March.

Periodic salary increment date (classified employees)

In most cases, your periodic salary increment date will be extended by one month for either of the following reasons:

  • If you take more than 10 equivalent days of leave without pay, including holidays, in a calendar month
  • If your leave without pay exceeds 10 consecutive working days, including holidays

However, your salary increment date will not be extended if:

  • You are on military duty leave
  • You have a compensable work-related injury or illness
  • You are on a scheduled period of leave without pay due to your cyclic appointment
  • Your collective bargaining agreement has different provisions on salary increment date adjustments

Probationary and trial service period

Your probationary or trial service period may be impacted by taking leave without pay.

If you are: Then your probationary/trial service period will be:
Classified non-union Extended by one workday for each work shift of leave without pay
Contract classified Impacted as stated in your collective bargaining agreement

Professional staff do not have probationary or trial service periods.


Automatic paycheck deposit continues during leave without pay for any pay that may be owed to you. If you are not enrolled in automatic deposit, contact your department’s payroll coordinator before going on leave to make arrangements for receiving paychecks.

If you have payroll deductions for pay loans or insurance, you need to make arrangements through the Payroll office to pay those obligations directly during your leave without pay.


Contact Commuter Services to discuss discontinuing parking deductions from your paycheck while on an extended leave.

Return to work

Whenever possible, after returning from an authorized leave of absence, you will continue in your same position or in another position in the same class, geographical area, and organizational unit.

However, if your position has been eliminated by the time you are available to return to active status, and if there is no comparable vacancy, your employment with the University will end.

Supervisor responsibilities

Follow these steps for reviewing a request for an unpaid personal leave of absence:

  1. Check the employee’s employment program or collective bargaining agreement for applicable leave without pay rules and eligibility.
  1. Review the employee’s reason for leave without pay to determine if the reason requires the use of paid leave prior to unpaid leave.
  1. Verify the employee’s paid leave balances, if depletion of paid leave is required.
  1. Forward the request, if you approve of the leave, to the appropriate vice president or dean for approval and processing in accordance with your department’s leave approval procedure.

Additional resources

APS 43.15 Leave Policy for Classified Non-Union Staff

APS 45.2 Leave Use and Compensation for Classified and Professional Staff During Suspended Operations and During Inclement Weather

APS 45.4 Leave Related to Active Military Duty