Major Disaster Leave Sharing Plan

In response to the needs of employees whose schedules have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 crisis, USC has created the Major Disaster Leave Sharing Plan. The plan lets employees voluntarily donate accrued vacation, paid time off (PTO), or winter recess time to a pool of funds for other employees who, due to a major disaster, are absent from work and have exhausted their own paid time off.

What is major disaster leave?

  • Major disaster leave is available to classified USC employees when (1) the employee or a member of the employee’s family experiences a severe hardship causing the employee to be absent from work, and (2) the employee has exhausted all available vacation, PTO, or winter recess time.
  • Under this plan, a major disaster is defined as a declared natural disaster, like the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Who’s eligible to donate? Who’s eligible to receive hours?

  • All participants in this plan must be USC employees in a position that accrues vacation, PTO, or winter recess time.
  • Donors must have adequate accrued time to donate.
  • Donors may not designate a particular recipient – all funds go into a pool for recipients.
  • Employees of ISI, ICT, and any other units that are government-funded are not eligible to donate time.
  • Recipients must have exhausted their own vacation, PTO, and winter recess time. In addition, recipients must be experiencing a severe hardship, must not be receiving any other forms of wage replacement (including short- or long-term disability, workers’ compensation, paid family leave, sick leave, unemployment, or other forms of paid leave), and must have not received more than 160 donated hours within a rolling 12-month period under the major disaster declaration.
  • Employees currently furloughed are eligible, so long as they meet all the above eligibility requirements.

Recipient eligibility at a glance

If you can answer “yes” to the five questions below, you may be eligible:


If I want to donate, what do I need to know?

  • Employees may donate a minimum of 7.5 hours up to a maximum of half their current vacation bank. Eligible employees who work less than full time may donate in four-hour increments.
  • To start the donation process, complete the donor form and submit to your designated HR Partner. (You can find the name of your HR Partner in your profile in Workday.) Once approved, the form is submitted to HR and payroll where the balances are transferred to the disaster leave bank. A Spanish donor form is also available. All forms are located on the Workday Hub site (you will need to log in using your USC NetID).
  • Donors are not taxed on their donation because this plan is an IRS-qualified plan, letting employees donate time tax-free.
  • Donors cannot claim the donation as a gift on their taxes; due to the tax benefits under this program, donations cannot be considered as gifts or philanthropic contributions on the employee’s tax filing.
  • Once the transfer is approved, your pay stub will reflect the withdrawal of vacation, PTO, or winter recess hours.
  • If you donate now, and in the future find yourself needing to request the time, you will be eligible to do so as long as you meet eligibility requirements at the time of application.

Process timeline for donors

Upon submission of the completed donor form, you will be emailed a confirmation within three business days. Within two to three weeks, your donation will be added to the master fund pool.


If I want to request time, what do I need to know?

  • Review the eligibility requirements above in the “Who’s eligible to donate, or to receive hours?” section. HR Partners can provide further guidance or clarification if needed.
  • To start a request, complete the request form and submit to your designated HR Partner. (You can find the name of your HR Partner in your profile in Workday.) Once eligibility is verified, Benefits will process the application and submit for committee review and approval. A Spanish request form is also available. All forms are located on the Workday Hub site (you will need to log in using your USC NetID).

If my request is approved, what happens next?

  • All applicants will receive one of three possible notifications:
    • You have been approved to receive funds and funds are available
    • You have been approved to receive funds but funds are not yet available
    • You have not been approved to receive funds
  • Because this program depends on voluntary donations from fellow employees, approved requests will not automatically receive funds. Accepted applicants are entered into a queue, and funds are distributed accordingly. The review committee will ensure all applicants are equally considered.
  • If funds are available, the process time from receipt of application is approximately two to three weeks. Please note in your application if needs involve an urgent timeline.
  • Approved recipients will receive the equivalent of one week of regularly scheduled hours (capped at 40 hours) if non-exempt, or a maximum of 40 hours if exempt.
  • Eligible recipients are encouraged to reapply as needed – they may receive up to 160 hours within a rolling 12-month period.
  • Received donations are considered wages of the recipient and are taxed accordingly. In addition, all regular withholdings are deducted as typically administered.

Process timeline for potential recipients

HR and Benefits will review the completed application and required documentation. If approved to move forward, it will be submitted to the plan review committee. That committee will meet weekly to approve/deny requests based on eligibility criteria, funds available, etc. The recipient will be informed of the status of the request within 2-3 weeks, with payment processing depending on the recipient’s normal pay cycle.


Need more help?

Please contact the HR Service Center at or (213) 821-8100.