Human Resources

Disability leave

Disability leave is a leave of absence that may be granted to an employee who is unable to perform the essential functions of their position — with or without reasonable accommodation — because of their own medical condition.

Disability leave is not a type of accrued time off but rather an approved leave of absence provided as a disability accommodation.

Disability leave allowance

The amount of time you may be allowed for disability leave will be the greater of the following:

  • The amount of time off you have accrued (the combined total of your vacation time off, sick time off, personal holiday, and compensatory time)
  • Nine months of combined paid and unpaid time off, including shared leave


Some, or all, of your disability leave may be covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act. FMLA runs at the same time as, not in addition to, your disability leave.


If your leave is covered by FMLA, the University will continue to pay its employer portion of your health insurance. You will still be responsible for any portion of your health benefits that you normally pay.

Once your 12 weeks of FMLA is exhausted, if you are going to be absent from work for a full calendar month, you must remain in pay status for at least eight hours that month in order for the University to continue paying its portion of your health insurance.

To remain in pay status, you must do one of the following:

  • Work at least eight hours
  • Use at least eight hours of accrued time off (sick, vacation, discretionary, or compensatory time off; holiday credit; personal holiday; or shared leave per month to maintain benefits. This is known as “interspersing.” You are allowed to intersperse while you are on approved disability leave. Employees are encouraged to apply paid time off on the first work day of the month in order to continue benefits for that month.

Interspersing will not extend the length of your disability leave beyond the limits listed above under “disability leave allowance.”

If you go an entire calendar month without being in pay status, you will need to self-pay (in other words, pay both your and the University’s portion) to keep your health insurance coverage.

Returning to work

Exhausting disability leave allowance

If you exhaust the disability leave allowance, the University will assess your ability to return to work — with or without reasonable accommodation — which may include placing you in an alternative position.

If you are unable to return to work on an ongoing and regular FTE basis in your current or an alternate position in the reasonably foreseeable future, your employment with the UW may end (in accordance with applicable policies, laws, and collective bargaining agreements).

Recurring disability

If you return to work following a disability leave and are unable to remain at work or unable to report to work on a regular basis due to medical reasons, a new nine-month disability leave allowance does not start. Instead, the University will consult with you as part of the disability accommodation process to determine the action to take based on your individual situation.

Additional resources