Going on leave

graphic link to going on leave page

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

See Unpaid Accommodated Medical Leave policy.

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 Gateway’s disability page for detailed information, and contact the HR Service Center with questions (you can call the Center at 213-821-8100).

Please note, you will only remain eligible for benefits (and associated USC subsidies) for up to 12 months of your inactive leave of absence.

Pregnancy-related medical leave

Provisions of the university’s staff parental leave policy apply when the disability is related to pregnancy or childbirth. Faculty should consult the faculty handbook.

Family and medical leave

Provisions of the university’s family care 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

USC 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.

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

Taking a personal leave of 30 days or more will affect your benefits. Talk to your local HR representative, and see below for specifics.

USC will continue to pay the employer portion for staff employees on medical leave.

Note that to maintain coverage, the employee must continue to pay his/her portion of the insurance premium.

In cases where an employee is receiving workers' compensation benefits from our workers' comp administrator (Broadspire) in lieu of disability payments, or if disability payments are not sufficient to pay benefit premiums, the employee must arrange to continue paying his/her portion of the benefit premiums. Premium payments must be made via credit card or cashier's check made payable to "USC" and mailed to USC Benefits at 3720 S Flower St, CUB 200, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0704.

If arrangements are not made to continue paying the benefit premiums while on leave, coverage is cancelled after 60 days of nonpayment, and the employee will not be eligible for COBRA; if employee continues to need medical insurance, s/he will need to visit www.healthcare.gov or call (800) 318-2596 (24/7 access) to review medical insurance options through the Affordable Care Act.

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.

If COBRA is not a viable option, visit www.healthcare.gov or call (800) 318-2596 (24/7 access) to review options available through the Affordable Care Act.

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.

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.

Employees must be actively at work to use Tuition Assistance for themselves. If they go on leave and are already enrolled, they can finish that semester but no further Tuition Assistance will be available until they return to work. (This does not apply to a child’s or spouse’s use of Tuition Assistance – an employee going on leave does not affect their dependents’ use of the benefit, nor does it affect their child's use of Tuition Exchange.) See the Tuition Assistance Benefit policy for more information.

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

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