Sick Leave Bank

Eligibility and Enrollment

The sick leave bank is available to all regular employees with at least 2 years of consecutive service, who are enrolled in the long term disability plan as of the enrollment date for sick leave bank membership and accrue sick leave. Membership in the bank is optional and requires donating a specified number of accrued sick leave days, based on the date of enrollment into the program. A member who experiences a catastrophic medical emergency is eligible to apply for withdrawal of sick leave from the bank if the member has insufficient leave balances to cover the length of time the employee will be out of work. Enrollment in the Sick Leave Bank program is available once a year each July.

Program Information

This program establishes a Sick Leave Bank to be used by participating university employees affected by a “personal emergency,” and who have insufficient leave to cover required work absences. A “personal emergency” is defined as an “unusual and catastrophic medical or immediate family medical emergency that is likely to require an employee’s absence from duty for a prolonged period of time and to result in a substantial loss of checkupincome because of the unavailability of paid leave.” Only those items allowable under the university Sick Leave Policy are covered by the Sick Leave Bank; maternity leave in connection with an uncomplicated pregnancy is not a “personal emergency.”

The bank allows employees to share the risk of severe circumstances by donating to a common pool of leave. Members of the pool are required to also be enrolled in the long-term disability program as a protection against income loss. The long-term disability policy covers total disability after a waiting period of 135 consecutive calendar days or 100 work days. The maximum a recipient can receive from the Sick Leave Bank is 70 days per “personal emergency” with no more than one withdraw from the bank per fiscal year or per personal emergency. No more than 70 days can be withdrawn for a particular medical condition. Employees are encouraged to maintain a balance of at least 30 days of combined sick and annual leave to cover them during the first 30 days of the “personal emergency” or total disability. The Sick Leave Bank does not provide for the first 30 days of the “personal emergency”; these are the responsibility of the employee and are covered by the employee’s sick and annual leave or leave without pay.

Program Requirements

  1. To qualify for participation in the SLB at implementation of the program, NMSU employees with 2 years of regular current continuous service and eligible for leave must voluntarily contribute two (2) days of accrued sick leave to the bank and be enrolled in the LTD program. Regular part-time employees will be prorated based on current FTE.
  2. In order to maintain membership, all members will be required to donate additional days (no more than one day per year) of accrued sick leave each fiscal year until a balance of 5 days per member is achieved.  Members must also maintain enrollment in the Long-Term Disability Program.
  3. All days donated are irretrievable.
  4. Employees may begin participation on July 1st following their 2-year anniversary date.
  5. Employees join the bank via the appropriate form available each July through the Benefit Services department.
  6. Employees choosing not to participate when first eligible may enroll in July of each year thereafter. Late enrollees, however, are required to donate the total number of days contributed by the members since the employee’s original eligibility date. For example, if the employee was eligible July 1, 1990, and chose to enroll July 1, 1994, and if total membership had been required to donate 3 days of leave on July 1, 1990, and one additional day in 1992 and in 1993, then the late enrollee would donate 5 days to become a member of the bank.
  7. The donated hours must come from the individual’s July balance after any sick leave cutback to 800 hours has been made.
  8. A request to cancel participation in the bank must be submitted to Benefit Services during the month of June prior to July 1st of the fiscal year affected. Failure to officially cancel participation will result in automatic membership renewal.
  9. Late enrollees and employees desiring to re-enroll are subject to a 6-month pre-existing condition exclusion.
  10. Part-time regular employee donations and withdrawals are prorated according to current full-time equivalency (FTE).
  11. The SLB program is administered centrally. Any details on adjusting funding will be worked out by individual departments and Benefit Services.

Application Procedures

  1. Only members of the SLB may apply. If the requester is a late enrollee or a re-enrollee, the condition or personal emergency cannot have been in existence during the 6 months immediately prior to entry in the bank.
  2. Applications for leave must be made via the Sick Leave Withdrawal Request Form and presented to the Benefit Services department by the employee with the personal emergency if he/she is capable; if not, the immediate supervisor applies on his/her behalf. The “personal emergency” must be fully demonstrated by completion of the SLB Physician’s Statement Form. The privacy of all applicants will be protected to the extent possible; requests should be submitted in sealed envelopes for the Benefits Manager.
  3. In order to apply for Sick Leave Bank hours, employees with less than 600 hours of accrued sick leave at the onset of the “personal emergency” must be facing the exhaustion of all available sick and annual leave and at the start of the emergency must be facing at least a minimum of 10 consecutive work days of leave without pay (above the first 30 days that are the employees’ responsibility) in order to apply; the 10 days will be paid by the SLB upon approval of the request.
  4. As an incentive to encourage employees to use sick leave wisely, employees with sick leave balances over 600 hours at the onset of the “personal emergency” do not have to use any annual leave before applying, but must have used all available sick leave.
  5. Two NMSU employees from one immediate family may draw from the bank simultaneously for the same personal emergency.
  6. The status of the “personal emergency” will be evaluated on a continuous basis.
  7. If the “personal emergency” is due to the illness of the employee, then the employee must file a claim under Long-Term Disability.
  8. The first 30 days of the personal emergency begins the first day that an employee is away from work due to a qualified medical condition. If an employee returns to work for no more than 10 consecutive work days and must be off work again for the same personal emergency, the previous time spent away from work will count towards satisfying the first 30 days.

Administrative Procedures

  1. A SLB Committee made up of the following representatives reviews all applications and makes recommendations for approval/disapproval to the Benefit Services department.
    1. A non-exempt employee appointed by AFSCME Local 2393 NMSU.
    2. An exempt employee appointed by the Employee Council.
    3. A representative for the supervisory/managerial ranks appointed by the HR Services Director.
    4. A 12-month faculty member appointed by the Faculty Senate.
    5. A representative of the Benefit Services department appointed by the HR Services Director.
  2. The program is administered through the Benefit Services department, which provides administrative support to the SLB Committee.
  3. A personal emergency must be in existence on or after the effective date of the program to receive consideration.
  4. The Benefit Services department submits all leave recipient applications to the SLB Committee for consideration.
  5. The SLB committee reviews the applications and renders a recommendation to the Benefits Manager.
  6. If the application is approved, the Benefits Manager notifies the applicant and applicant’s department.
  7. If the Benefits Manager disagrees with the SLB Committee’s recommendation, the Benefits Manager will share his or her response with the committee. The SLB Committee may reconsider their decision based on the recommendation of the Benefits Manager.
  8. If the application is denied, the Benefit Services department notifies the applicant with a general response. The decision of the Sick Leave Bank Committee may be appealed to the Provost whose decision is final.
  9. Documentation for approved SLB leave is submitted to the person in charge of leave records in the member’s department for appropriate transfer of leave amounts from the bank to each leave recipient.
  10. The departments maintain all official leave records. A separate personal emergency leave balance for each recipient is maintained as long as the emergency exists.
  11. Employees do not accrue leave while using the SLB.
  12. The SLB Committee is responsible for maintaining close liaison with all parties involved.
  13. All time limits for administrative action may be extended should circumstances warrant.

SLB Termination

Leave from the Sick Leave Bank terminates when any of the following occurs:

  1. Recipient’s employment terminates. (Unused balances do not become basis for lump-sum leave payment.)
  2. Recipient returns to either a full-time or part-time work status.
  3. Employee may be considered for benefits of (a) disability retirement, (b) long-term disability benefits or the 135 day LTD application waiting period ends, or (c) worker’s compensation benefits or settlement.
  4. Personal emergency terminates.
  5. Recipient has received 70 days from the bank, or the time allotted by the SLB Committee has been received.
  6. An employee has been off work for 135 calendar days.
  7. Maximum medical improvement occurs.

LTD Payments during SLB Time

If Long-Term Disability benefits are paid while SLB time is being used, the employees will have to pay the university back any time from the bank that coincides with Long-Term Disability payments.

NMSU Policy Reference: 7.20.80 Leaves – Sick Leave Bank