Leave of Absence (LOA)
In this section...
There are many reasons why you may need to take a Leave of Absence (LOA). Whether it be your own serious health condition, pregnancy, caring for a newborn (baby bonding) or caring for your family member’s serious health condition; most employee’s will need to take at least one leave of absence during their career.
Please read section 7 (Time Off) of the Employee Handbook to get a better understanding of the various LOAs that are available. Below is some general information to help you understand the process and familiarize yourself with the resources that are available to you.
Let’s say you need to take some time off for your own serious health condition (i.e. surgery with 8 weeks post-op recovery). If you have worked for the company for at least 1 year and worked 1,250 hours in the last 12 months, you will be eligible for FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act). Under FMLA, you can take up to 12 weeks (480 hours) off work in a rolling 12-month period.
Your Action Items: Direct Link
We recognize this process can be confusing and have put together a check list of the typical things you’ll need to do from start to finish. Please also read through our Most Frequently Asked Questions below for more information.
- Submit LOA request via HR Ticketing on Insite prior to your first day off (if possible) using estimated dates if necessary.
- Box up and take any personal belongings with you before leaving.
- Have your doctor complete the Medical Certification and submit to HR within 15 days of your leave starting.
- Apply for short-term disability through Cigna. How to file a claim.
- If you are enrolled in the Cigna Hospital Indemnity plan ($1,000 payment directly to you, if hospitalized for more than 24 hours), contact Cigna to file a claim for this benefit.
- Contact HR 2-5 days before your scheduled return date to confirm your return.
- Have your doctor’s office complete the return-to-work form and fax it to us prior to your return.
- If unable to return as expected, please notify us right and. We will also need another medical certification to extend your leave.
- Once your release has been received, watch for our email notifying you that you are “cleared” to return back to work.
How do I request a Leave of Absence? Direct Link
If your leave is foreseeable, please submit an LOA Request through the HR Ticketing system on Insite. If you are already on LOA and/or unable to submit an LOA request, please contact Human Resources to start the process:
PHONE: 800.798.0584 x11824
We will need your contact information while out on leave, such as your personal email address and phone number.
What Information do you need from my Doctor? Direct Link
Your physician/health care provider will need to complete a medical certificate* to certify your time off. This document is due back to us within 15 days of our request/start of leave. If you are out for more than 7 days, we will also need the Return to Work form complete prior to you return back to work. Please notify Human Resource 2 – 5 days in advance prior to your expected return date to confirm your return date. If you are not able to return as expected, we will need an updated medical certificate completed by your health care provider in order to extend your time off.
- HealthCare Provider Certificate – For Your Own Serious Illness/Condition (including Pregnancy)
- HealthCare Provider Certificate – To Care for Your Family Member (during their Serious Illness/Condition)
- Return to Work Certificate – For Returning when out for your own serious health Condition
*Please note that a medical certificate is not required for leaves taken for non-health reasons such as military or baby bonding.
What Compensation is Available to Me while I am Out on Leave? Direct Link
LOAs are generally unpaid. However, you can use your Sick, Vacation, and/or Floating Holiday time to supplement your disability payments during this time. Please note that per company policy, you must use any accrued sick/vacation time for the first week (40 hours) of your Leave of Absence (except for Military or Baby Bonding*). When you request your LOA, you will have the option to request the number of hours (sick and/or vacation) you want to use each pay period while you are out on Leave. Most employees will only use the number of hours needed to supplement their disability payments (i.e. 16 hours per pay period).
*Please note that for baby bonding, two weeks of paid parental leave is available.
Short-Term Disability through Ashford: Direct Link
The University provides all benefits eligible employees with a short-term disability policy that pays up to 60 percent* of their pre-disability earnings (up to a weekly max of $1,200). This is a company perk at no cost to you. Visit this link for instructions on how to report a disability claim with Cigna.
*Please note that Cigna off-sets for any State disability benefits (i.e. CA-SDI).
How do I pay for my Benefits While I am out on Leave? Direct Link
It is recommended to use your sick/vacation hours to cover your benefits while out on LOA. However, you can submit a check and/or “catch-up” on your benefits upon your return. Please coordinate this with your Human Resources representative.
What Happens if I am unable to return before my FMLA ends? Direct Link
FMLA provides you with job and benefits protection. There are times an employee will qualify for an extended LOA beyond the federal and state requirement. In this case, your leave will transition to a non-FMLA status. Which means that your benefits will terminate. You will have the option to continue your Benefits through COBRA. Our COBRA administrator, Discovery, will send you a COBRA packet with information on how to continue your benefits. Read our COBRA FAQ for more information.
This also means, there is no guarantee that your job will be available when you return back from leave. If your position is no longer available, we will provide you with a list of all open positions. You may apply for any open position for which you are qualified. Ashford University will make a good faith effort to place you in a suitable position. However, we cannot guarantee placement or any particular return date. In the event a suitable position is not available within a reasonable time (i.e. 30 days of your desired return date), your employment with Ashford University will terminate at that time. You will still be eligible to apply for future open positions with Ashford University.
What are the qualified Reasons for a Leave of Absence? Direct Link
There are various reasons and types of leaves. Ashford University follows all Federal and State regulatory laws for the state that you work in. Please read section 7 of the Employee Handbook to learn more. Leave of Absence for hardship/personal reasons are normally difficult to accommodate without seriously affecting the operation of the company. For that reason, most Leaves are not granted except those required by law. However, the company does offer a non-FMLA Medical Leave of up to 4 weeks for those employees who are not eligible for FMLA.
Employee Rights and Responsibilities Notices:
If you have additional questions or are uncertain if your reason qualifies, please contact the Benefits Department to learn more:
Phone: 800.798.0584 x11824