Going on medical leave?

prettyWhat you need to know if you must take a medical leave of absence

If you become injured or ill and cannot work, you may need to take a medical leave of absence.

Medical leave is unpaid, but you may be eligible for disability benefits for some or all of your medical leave. You may also be able to use accrued vacation or sick time as a substitute for, or in conjunction with, disability benefits. The Federal Family and Medical Leave Act and the California Family Right Act (FMLA/CFRA) protect your job while you’re on medical leave provided you meet eligibility requirements. For more information, faculty should consult the faculty handbook and staff should consult the medical leave policy. Visit the disability section of the benefits website for detailed information, and contact the HR Service Center with questions (you can call the Center at 213-821-8100).

What happens to your benefits and time off accruals while you’re on leave

Health (medical, dental and vision), life, and accidental death and dismemberment insurance

USC will continue to pay the employer portion for staff employees on medical leave based on the employee’s cumulative years of benefits-eligible service:

  • 4 years or less – 4 months paid within a rolling 12-month period
  • 5-9 years – 8 months paid within a rolling 12-month period
  • 10 or more years – 12 months paid

Note that to maintain coverage, the employee must continue to pay his/her portion of the insurance premium by one of the following methods:

  • Employees who are receiving disability benefits will have the employee portion taken from the disability payment according to the employee’s normal pay cycle, or
  • Pay the premium directly to USC Benefits via personal check, money order or cashier’s check made out to USC

For medical, dental and vision benefits – when the university stops paying the employer portion, the employee will have the opportunity to elect COBRA coverage. COBRA allows the employee to continue health benefits coverage for an additional 18 months on USC’s Network Plan, as well as dental and vision plans; it allows 36 months on other medical plans. In all cases, the coverage continues provided the employee pays the full premium plus an administrative fee.

For life and accidental death and dismemberment insurance – employees under the age of 60 who become totally disabled for at least 9 consecutive months may file a claim with the insurance carrier to have life insurance premiums waived during their disability. This claim must be filed during the first 12 months of the disability.

Retirement plans

University and both matching and supplemental employee contributions to the USC Retirement Savings Program are taken from disability payments, excluding any disability payments made after the staff member terminates employment. Employees may adjust their voluntary retirement contributions at any time (the university’s matching contribution will be adjusted accordingly). Employees may adjust their contribution on Workday before or during a medical leave.

Tuition assistance

A staff employee on medical leave who is receiving or who is sponsoring his/her child or spouse receiving tuition assistance remains eligible for the benefit only while eligible for short-term disability. Exceptions to this policy for employees who have 15 or more years of cumulative benefits-eligible service or who become permanently disabled are explained in the Tuition Assistance Program Document.

Vacation and sick leave

Staff employees do not accrue vacation or sick time during medical leave. See USC’s vacation leave and sick leave policies.

Holiday and winter recess pay

Staff employees are not eligible for holiday or winter recess pay during medical leave. See USC’s university holidays and winter recess policies.

Additional resources

Pregnancy-related medical leave

Provisions of the university’s pregnancy-related medical leave policy apply when the disability is related to pregnancy or childbirth.

Family and medical leave

Provisions of the university’s family and medical leave policy apply to leave for the employee’s own serious health condition, the birth or adoption of a child, or for the care of seriously ill family members.

Work-related injuries or illness

The University of Southern California does not discriminate against employees who have filed or made known their intent to file workers’ compensation claims. An employee who sustains a work-related injury and reports the same will obtain all of those benefits he or she is entitled to under California law. All matters relating to a job-related illness or injury must be referred to the workers’ compensation department at (213) 740-6205. This includes, but is not limited to, eligibility for medical leave, benefits eligibility, medical certifications, the length of the leave, return to work, and accommodation for return to work.

General leave-related questions

Contact the HR Service Center or call them at (213) 821-8100.