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Personal Leave of Absence

Policy Number: HR-39
Effective Date: January 2017
Last Revision: May 2020
Responsible Officer: Executive Vice President, Treasurer and Chief Operating Officer

PURPOSE
This policy provides the process for requesting a Personal Leave of Absence not covered by another policy.

APPLICABILITY
This policy applies to all benefit eligible Professional Staff Members, excluding any Professional Staff Member who is affiliated with a collective bargaining unit, provided that the Professional Staff Member is (1) is in good standing (e.g., not on a Performance Improvement Plan); (2) has stated unequivocally that the Personal Leave of Absence has not been requested for the purpose of seeking or obtaining employment outside the University; and (3) has stated unequivocally that the Personal Leave of Absence has not been requested for the purpose of working for another employer or pursuing an independent business venture during such leave.

IMPLEMENTATION
Implementation of this policy is the responsibility of the Department of Human Resources in conjunction with the Designated Third-Party Administrator.

ADMINISTRATIVE OVERSIGHT
The Executive Vice President, Treasurer and Chief Operating Officer is the Drexel University official responsible for the administration of this policy.

POLICY
Professional Staff Members may request a Personal Leave of Absence for up to ninety (90) calendar days in a twelve-month period. The length of the leave, and Drexel University Online's ability to grant it, will depend upon the department's or college's ability to make personnel adjustments that will ensure its continuous and satisfactory functioning during the Professional Staff Member's absence. Approval of a Personal Leave of Absence is discretionary, and such a request must be approved by the Professional Staff Member's immediate supervisor and Department Head in consultation with the HR Business Partner.

DEFINITIONS

Department Head is defined as the highest ranking administrator in a department or college of the University (e.g., Vice President, Dean or Department Chair).

Occurrence is defined as (1) a period of absence, which may consist of one day or a series of consecutive days; and (2) an incident of lateness.

Professional Staff Member is defined as an individual employed in any non-faculty category by Drexel University Online, including an individual who is deemed to be either exempt or non-exempt under the provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and/or applicable state law.

PROCEDURES

  1. Leave Request
    1. To request a Personal Leave of Absence, the Professional Staff Member must complete the Personal Leave of Absence Request Form [PDF] and submit the request, along with supporting documentation, to the Designated Third-Party Administrator. A request for Personal Leave of Absence must be made at least thirty (30) calendar days before commencement of the leave, if foreseeable. If the need for a Personal Leave of Absence cannot be reasonably foreseen within thirty (30) calendar days, the Professional Staff Member must give as much advance notice as possible.
    2. The immediate supervisor is required to consult with their HR Business Partner to discuss the request for Personal Leave of Absence prior to determining whether the request should be approved or denied.
    3. Any changes to the Personal Leave of Absence must be approved by the immediate supervisor, department head and HR Business Partner and reported to the Designated Third-Party Administrator.
    4. A Professional Staff Member is expected to be available for work by the end of their approved Personal Leave of Absence. Failure to return to work as agreed, may be considered job abandonment and may constitute grounds for termination. A Professional Staff Member on a Personal Leave of Absence will be terminated if they accept other employment, pursues an independent business venture, or works for another employer during such leave.
    5. If a request for Personal Leave of Absence is not approved by the immediate supervisor, the Professional Staff Member may appeal directly to the Department Head. If the request for Personal leave of Absence is not approved by the Department Head, the Professional Staff Member may appeal to the most senior level department or college administrator for review and decision. The senior administrator's decision is final and a decision must be rendered within five (5) business days of the requested appeal.
  2. Position Status
    If a request for Personal Leave of Absence is granted, the department or college agrees to hold the Professional Staff Member's position open for the approved leave period up to ninety (90) calendar days. If the Professional Staff Member has not returned to work from a Personal Leave of Absence after ninety (90) calendar days, it may be considered voluntary termination of employment. At that point, the department may post the position, or take any other action regarding the position as deemed necessary. If the position has been posted but not yet filled, the former Professional Staff Member may reapply. In any event, a Professional Staff Member on an approved Personal Leave of Absence has no greater right to conditions of employment than if the Professional Staff Member had been continuously in the workplace. For example, the position of the Professional Staff Member on approved Personal Leave of Absence may be subject to discontinuation in accordance with Drexel University Online's business decision to eliminate the position.

  3. Compensation and Benefits for Professional Staff Members
    1. A Professional Staff Member will be required to utilize all available paid Vacation Leave from the beginning of a Personal Leave of Absence before going into an unpaid status. Should a Professional Staff Member exhaust all of their Vacation Leave, the remainder of the Personal Leave of Absence, if any, will be unpaid.
    2. During the period that a Professional Staff Member is receiving paid Vacation Leave, they are considered to be in an "active pay status." If a Professional Staff Member is on a Personal Leave of Absence without pay, they are considered to be in an "inactive pay status “and will not accrue Sick Leave or Vacation Leave.
  4. Benefits During Leave
    1. During Personal Leave of Absence, Drexel University Online will maintain the Professional Staff Member's health insurance with the same conditions that coverage would have been provided if the Professional Staff Member had been continuously employed during the entire leave period. Drexel University Online and the Professional Staff Member will each continue to pay their portion of the benefit costs.
    2. If the Professional Staff Member goes into an inactive pay status by exhausting available Vacation Leave, Drexel University Online will recover the unpaid premiums from the employee when they are reinstated into active pay status.
    3. Drexel University Online may recover unpaid premiums from the Professional Staff Member who fails to return to work from Personal Leave of Absence.
    4. Drexel University Online-paid life insurance, and personal accident insurance, accidental death and dismemberment, and long- term disability insurance will continue in effect for the duration of Personal Leave of Absence.
    5. A Professional Staff Member who was participating in the Flexible Spending Accounts may continue to participate in accordance with policy provisions. No contributions can be made while the Professional Staff Member is on any unpaid part of Personal Leave of Absence. Drexel University Online will recover the outstanding contributions from the employee when they are reinstated into active pay status.
    6. Retirement plan contributions will continue during the Personal Leave of Absence in accordance with the provisions specified in the respective retirement plan documents.
  5. Return from Leave
    1. Professional Staff Members are required to notify their immediate supervisor of their anticipated return date. Professional Staff Members who are unable to return to work at the end of the leave should notify their immediate supervisor and the Designated Third-Party Administrator as soon as possible.

AT-WILL EMPLOYMENT NOT AFFECTED

Notwithstanding anything to the contrary stated in this policy, nothing herein is intended to alter the at-will status of any Professional Staff Member. Drexel University Online at all times retains the right to terminate any Professional Staff Member at any time for any lawful reason, or for no reason at all.