Skip to main content

Leave Program Changes

Over the past decade, views on work-life balance and the value of time away have shifted. Recognizing leave as a high-value benefit, the university explored ways to modernize our staff leave programs to ensure they meet people’s needs, as well as make the staff leave programs more competitive in the higher education and health care markets.

On September 7, 2022, the Board of Curators approved a new leave program, which is scheduled to begin in January 2024.

The new leave program combines the current separate buckets of leave (vacation, sick, and personal) into one PTO bucket. Under PTO, employees will no longer have to choose from a specific bucket of time, but will instead have the flexibility to use the time off as they choose. For the first time, the university will also offer paid parental and caregiver leave, as well as short-term disability.

Resources and educational opportunities will be available to keep the university community informed. For overview and scenario information, please view the presentation slides (PDF) and informational handout (PDF).

Screenshot of slide for the Board of Curators Proposed Leave Program Design presentation showing recommended plan design


Next Steps

Following information sessions and feedback received during July and August, the Office of Human Resources provided a project update and proposal to the Board of Curators as an action item for vote during the September 7, 2022, meeting, which was approved.

  • October 2022December 2023
    • Ongoing resources, communications and support.
    • Configure and test myHR/PeopleSoft HR and other software with new program designs.
    • Conduct trainings for employees, managers and timekeepers.
  • January 2024
    • New leave program begins.

Frequently Asked Questions

We understand faculty and staff will want to learn about the approved leave program design. The FAQs below describe basic information about the project and the approved leave program design.

What is a PTO (paid time off) bank?

A PTO bank plan combines vacation, sick and personal into a single bank of days for employees to use when they take paid time off from work. PTO is a more modern approach to providing employees with time off that gives employees more flexibility for scheduled and unscheduled absences. A PTO bank’s primary focus is on when time is taken off, and not the reason for the time off.

 
How does a PTO bank differ from the university's current leave plans?

In the current leave program structure, paid time off is separated in different categories such as vacation, sick and personal. Employees earn a specific number of hours for each category and time off can only be taken for that purpose.

A PTO bank does not separate leave into categories. It uses a single pool of time off to give employees more control over how they spend their time away from work, whether for vacation, an illness, a field trip with a child or any other personal reason.

 
Why is a PTO bank structure included as part of the approved leave program design?

A PTO bank ensures university leave practices are comparable with other organizations in our market and attractive to job candidates who value discretionary time away from work, while also promoting a culture of wellness that encourages employees to use their time off to focus on themselves and their families.

Employees no longer need to identify why they are choosing to take time away from work, since the PTO hours can be used for any eligible time away from work. The use of PTO hours should be scheduled in advance whenever possible, according to UM policy and procedures. If an employee needs to use PTO for an unexpected absence, they should follow their department or units standard call in procedures.

 
How will employees earn PTO under the approved leave program design?

Employees continue to earn their paid time off in hours each week based on their annual allowance. The below chart shows hours earned weekly based on 100% FTE. Hours will be prorated for employees working less than 100% FTE.

Years of service* Non-exempt (hourly) Exempt (salaried)
  Days Hours Hours earned weekly Days Hours Hours earned weekly
Less than 5 18 144 2.77 23 184 3.54
5–15 23 184 3.54 28 224 4.31
15 or more 28 224 4.31 28 224 4.31

*Based on most recent hire date.

 
The new program shows how many days of PTO an employee can earn in a year. What is a day?

A day is determined based on an employee's FTE. See chart below for most common FTEs and their hour equivalents for 1 day.

FTE Day Hours
100% 1 8
95% 1 7.6
90% 1 7.2
85% 1 6.8
80% 1 6.4
75% 1 6

 

 
What is the difference between the fixed, flexible and qualifying leave categories?

In the approved leave program structure, there are three main categories of paid leave:

  • Fixed leave: Includes holidays (9 days per year) and winter break (4 days per year; campus only)
  • Flexible leave: Includes flexible-use PTO days. The number of days an employee earns each year varies based on whether an employee is exempt (salaried) or non-exempt (hourly) and their years of service.
    • MU Health Care hourly employees will also have a PTO cash-in option. Additional details for the cash-in option will be provided as they are available.
  • Qualifying leave: An employee may be eligible for these leave plans based on experiencing a qualifying event. For more information, see questions on What is Short-Term Disability? What is Caregiver Leave? What is Parental Leave?
 
What will happen to vacation, sick and personal balances for existing employees?

Employees will continue to accrue their vacation, sick and personal days under the current programs until the new leave program begins in January 2024.  The following provides information about the remaining balances immediately prior to transition to the new program.

Vacation: We are reviewing options to convert vacation balances to the new PTO plan, payout vacation at a specific point in time, or a combination of the two above options.

Sick Leave: No new accruals will be earned after transition to the new PTO plan, any sick leave earned prior to 01/01/24 will be saved or banked for the employee. These banked hours can be used to supplement university-paid Short-Term Disability or for other sick leave events when the PTO bank and other eligible leave options have been exhausted. In addition, employees in the DB Plan or Hybrid Plan will continue to be eligible for service credit for any remaining banked sick leave at retirement. 

Personal Days: The last accruals will be earned on the employee’s anniversary date in 2023. Employees will have until their anniversary date in 2024 to use their remaining personal days. Personal days not used prior to the employee’s anniversary date in 2024 will expire. 

 
How much PTO time will employees be able to carry?

Employees will be able to accumulate a maximum of 2 times their annual PTO accrual at any time. For example, if an employee earns 18 PTO days per year, they can carry a maximum of 36 days (18 times 2). Once an employee reaches their maximum, no new accruals are earned until the balance is used down below the maximum. The following chart shows examples of the maximum PTO that can be carried in days and hours based on 100% FTE. Hours will be prorated for employees working less than 100% FTE.

  Non-exempt (hourly) Exempt (salaried)
Years of service Annual days Annual hours Maximum accrual in days/hours Annual days Annual hours Maximum accrual in days/hours
Less than 5 18 144 36 days/288 hours 23 184 46 days/368 hours
5–15 23 184 46 days/368 hours 28 224 56 days/448 hours
15 or more 28 224 56 days/448 hours 28 224 56 days/448 hours

 

 
Will PTO be “use it or lose it”?

There is not a set time limit in which PTO hours the employee has earned must be used. However, there is a maximum number of hours an employee can accumulate. See FAQ: How much PTO time will employees be able to carry?

 
How will employees use PTO? Will I be required to use a whole day at a time?

No. Employees will be able to use the PTO hours they have earned in any increment just as they can use their current paid time accruals. See also: How will employees earn PTO under the approved leave program design? Accruals must be earned before they can be used.

 
How will the leave program changes impact health care employees?

MU Health Care employees and UM campus employees will receive the same PTO structure, nine paid holidays each year and parental, caregiver and short-term disability leaves. MU Health Care hourly employees will also have a PTO cash-in option. Additional details for the cash-in option will be provided as they are available. 

 
Will MU Health Care nurses continue to earn PTO based on the exempt schedule?

Yes, nurses at MU Health Care will continue to earn PTO based on the exempt schedule.

 
Will faculty leave be impacted?

No, faculty are not in scope for the approved leave program design, except for the limited number of faculty who are currently in the staff plan.

 
Who is eligible for paid time off at the university?

All benefit-eligible administrative, service and support staff and certain non-regular academic employees are eligible to receive paid time off.

 
When will the approved leave program design go into effect?

Changes are scheduled to go into effect in January 2024.

 
Can an employee opt out of the new leave program?

No; all eligible employees will move to the new leave program design, effective January 2024.

 
How will the leave program affect leave taken under FMLA?

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that provides employees the right to take a leave of absence for family, medical reasons and leave for military families while maintaining job protection.

FMLA provides job protection, but is not a paid leave program. Visit the About the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) webpage for more information.

University employees may use paid time off or other approved leave while on FMLA in order to be paid while on FMLA.

 
What is short-term disability?

Short-term disability covers 60% of the employee’s salary when they are unable to work due to a temporary medical disability for up to 20 weeks. Short-term disability has an elimination period* of seven calendar days (five working days). Employees may utilize PTO or banked sick leave to cover the elimination period and income up to 100%.

Short-term disability does not provide job protection. Job protection is determined by university policies and state/federal laws, such as the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Rather, it is an insurance-type policy, provided by the university to provide income replacement while on medical leave.

*Elimination period: This is the period of time an employee is disabled or unable to work before short-term disability benefits begin. The elimination period is based on your regular work schedule during the first seven calendar days of disability.

 
What is parental leave?

Parental leave provides four weeks of paid time off within a rolling 12 month period*, in addition to an employee’s annual PTO allocation, for employees who are welcoming a new child into their home. 

Qualifying events include: 

  • The birth of a child, or
  • The placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care  

Leaves for birth, adoption or foster care must be taken within 12 months of the qualifying event.

*The 12 month rolling year begins when an employee first uses parental leave and ends 1 year later.

 
What is caregiver leave?

Caregiver leave provides two weeks of paid time off within a rolling 12 month period*, in addition to an employee’s annual PTO allocation, to care for a family member with a serious health condition.

*The 12 month rolling year begins when an employee first uses caregiver leave and ends 1 year later.

 
Where do I go if I have questions?

We understand employees may have specific questions about the new leave program. We are working to finalize policy and procedures for the new leave program and will share more information on this webpage as available.

Within the overview and scenario presentation (PDF), we have outlined multiple scenarios of how employees may utilize the new short-term disability, caregiver leave and parental leave. We also continue to add to the FAQ section of this website to help answer employee questions. Prior to transition, we anticipate additional resources will be available for both supervisors and employees. We will continue to update this webpage with information as it is available.

 

Background and Guiding Principles

In 2020, a committee comprised of faculty and staff representatives across the system formed to evaluate the university’s current leave programs, including benchmark analysis for various industries and markets and data analysis and feedback from campus and health care staff. From this evaluation, the committee identified three key areas of the leave program for improvement:

  1. More flexible vacation and sick time programs.
  2. Short-term disability leave.
  3. Parental and family care leave.
Following the committee's work, a working group of HR, Finance, campus and health care representatives developed a proposal to address the key areas of the leave program, with a commitment to:
  • Modernize leave programs to make them more market competitive;
  • Improve the effectiveness of the leave programs;
  • Realize cost savings, while prioritizing the needs of our people and create a sustainable program;
  • Design leave programs that promote work-life balance; and 
  • Explore differentiating leave by staff type and industry.

The program design applies to staff eligible for leave (faculty are not in scope except for the limited number who are currently in the staff plan). Current campus and health care staff will transition to a new leave program when it is implemented. Accrued vacation and/or sick balances at transition will be honored.

Preparation to Proposal Development

  • 2020
    • Committee completed benchmarking and initial analysis.
  • June 2021
  • June 2021February 2022
    • Working group engaged with TRAC, leadership and key constituent groups.
  • November 2021
  • June 2022
  • JulyAugust 2022
    • Solicited feedback from campus and health care staff advisory groups.
    • Held four virtual information sessions.
  • September 2022

Top of page | Approved leave program design | Next steps | FAQs | Background

Reviewed 2022-09-21