HR Operations

Military duty

Last updated: May 3, 2024

This webpage applies to all University staff, academic personnel and student employees.

All University employees who are members of, or who are in the process of enlisting for, any of the United States uniformed services are eligible for both military training time off and military unpaid leave.

The University follows the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) and Washington state law, which offer certain rights to employees in the uniformed services.

U.S. uniformed services include:

  • Army
  • Navy
  • Air Force
  • Marine Corps
  • Coast Guard
  • Public Health Service Commissioned Corps
  • Army or Air National Guard
  • Any reserve components of the services listed above

Time off or a leave of absence may be taken for military requirements such as:

  • Active duty
  • Training and drills
  • Physical examination
  • Funeral honors duty

You will not be denied employment, reemployment, promotion, or other benefits of employment because of your membership — or application for membership — in any of the U.S. uniformed services.

Notification for leave

You must give your manager advance notice before leaving for military duty.

For campus staff and student employees: You can submit and manage your request through Workday with this step-by-step guide on how to request and manage your leave of absence.

For medical centers staff: Complete the Military Duty Leave of Absence Request (MS Word) form and submit it to your supervisor along with a copy of your military orders.

For academic personnel: Review the military time off and leave user guide and submit your request through Workday.

Use the Military Activation and Return-to-Duty Checklist (PDF) to help you plan for your absence.


The University will pay employees up to 21 workdays of military training time off per federal fiscal year (October 1 to September 30). You are charged military training time off only for the days that you are scheduled to work. If you are scheduled to work a shift that begins on one calendar day and ends on the next calendar day, you are charged military time off only for the first calendar day. Beyond the paid 21 days, military duty leave is unpaid for the rest of your time in active duty, up to five years. However, you may use any accrued paid time off that you have available.

Shared leave

If you are called to service and have used, or are about to use, all of your accrued vacation and paid military training time off, if you are in a time off accruing position you may be eligible to receive donations of time from other employees through the Shared Leave Program or request shared leave from the Uniformed Services Shared Leave Pool administered by the Washington Military Department.

Benefits continuation

You must remain in pay status at least eight hours per calendar month in order for the University to continue paying its employer portion of your health insurance. To meet this requirement, you may space out — or “intersperse” — your accrued paid time off in eight-hour increments across the months of your active duty.

The following types of paid time off may be interspersed:

  • Paid military time off
  • Vacation time off
  • Compensatory time
  • Holiday credit
  • Personal holiday
  • Shared leave

If you do not remain in pay status for at least eight hours in a calendar month, you will need to self-pay for that month (in other words, pay both your and the University’s portion) to keep your health insurance coverage active. For continuation of benefits, it is encouraged that employees apply paid time off on the first work day of the month.

For more information on benefits continuation, contact the Benefits Office.

Return to work

When you return from military duty leave, you are eligible to receive all the rights and benefits that you would have received if you had never been absent, such as pay increases, seniority, and vacation accrual rate.

Additionally, absences for military duty are considered time worked for determining FMLA eligibility, layoff seniority, and completion of a probationary or trial service period.


Prior to returning to work, you will need to notify your manager of your intent to return and provide a copy of your discharge documentation. The documentation should include:

  • Date of discharge
  • Duration of military service
  • Proof of satisfactory service

The length of your military leave determines your return-to-work notice requirement.

If your leave lasted: You must:
Less than 31 days Report to work the first scheduled work period on the first full calendar day following completion of service plus eight hours
31 to 180 days Request reinstatement within 14 calendar days of completion of service
More than180 days Request reinstatement no later than 90 days following completion of service

If you do not return to work within five years, the University will assume that you have resigned from UW employment. However, your return-to-work deadline can be  extended for up to two years if you are hospitalized or convalescing due to a service-connected injury or illness.


To reinstate any benefits not maintained while on active duty, contact the Benefits Office.

Vacation time off accrual

During a military leave of absence, regularly scheduled staff continue to accrue vacation  time off each month as long as they have not taken 10 or more days of unpaid time off in the month and earn a month of service toward a higher vacation accrual rate.

Salary Increments (classified only)

When you return to UW work, you will be placed at the salary step that you would have reached had you not been absent for military duty.

Seniority (classified only)

Your absences due to military duty— paid or unpaid — is included in seniority calculations.

Spouses and other family members

If you are a family member of a uniformed service member, you may be eligible for leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) if that service member is deployed.

Manager responsibilities

Follow your department’s usual leave approval procedure. Place copies of the employee’s documentation supporting the request for military duty time in the employee’s departmental file to support entries made in the time off tracking system (Workday or Kronos). Retain these records for 3 years after termination of employment with the department.

However, prior to denying a military duty leave request, you must consult with your HR consultant to be sure the denial follows the law and University policy.

Additional resources