Leave of Absence

If you need to be away from work for a period of time, you may be eligible for a paid or unpaid leave of absence. You should contact your benefits office before taking any type of leave so they can explain your options during a leave and help you maintain your benefits during an unpaid leave of absence.

Paid vs. Unpaid Leave of Absence

Paid Leave of Absence

If you use paid leave or are otherwise eligible for pay during your leave, your benefits are not affected by a leave of absence.

Unpaid Leave of Absence

During an unpaid leave of absence, you generally have two options regarding your benefits:

  • Continue coverage during the leave either by paying your share of premiums through payroll before your leave starts or through personal payment to the University during your leave. The employer contribution towards any applicable premium will resume for the coverage month on or after your return to work; or
  • Let the coverage lapse. If you let coverage lapse by not paying the premium while on leave, you have 30 days from your return to work to submit applications to re-enroll in any benefits that you let lapse.

When Does Coverage End if You Don’t Pay Insurance Premium?

Most premiums are taken one month in advance of the coverage month. If let your coverage lapse by not paying the premium, coverage will typically end at the end of the month following the start of your unpaid leave. For example, if your unpaid leave starts on May 15 and you had deductions taken from your last paycheck, most of your benefits will be paid through the end of the June.

Family & Medical Leave and Military Leave

See the Family and Medical Leave information to find out if your leave is eligible for coverage under Wisconsin or Federal Family and Medical Leave.
If you are on military leave, different provisions apply to you. See the Military Leave for details.

Ending Employment during Leave

If you end employment while on an unpaid leave of absence, refer to the Employment Changes webpage for information about continuing your coverage.

More Information

Click on the plan below to see how an unpaid leave of absence affects your benefits.

State Group Health Insurance

You are eligible for the employer contribution towards your health insurance for the first three months of your unpaid leave of absence. After the first three months, you can continue coverage but you are required to pay the total premium.

You may continue coverage for up to 36 months while on an unpaid leave, provided you continue to pay the premium.

Important: If you allow your family coverage to lapse while on leave and you die, your surviving family members will not have access to your sick leave credits to pay health insurance premiums.

EPIC Benefits+

You may continue coverage for up to 36 months while on an unpaid leave, provided you continue to pay the premium.

Dental Wisconsin

You may continue coverage for up to 36 months while on an unpaid leave, provided you continue to pay the premium.

VSP Vision Insurance

You may continue coverage for up to 36 months while on an unpaid leave, provided you continue to pay the premium.

State Group Life Insurance

You may continue coverage for up to 36 months while on an unpaid leave, provided you continue to pay the premium.

Individual and Family Life Insurance

You may continue coverage for up to 36 months while on an unpaid leave, provided you continue to pay the premium.

UW Employees Inc. Life Insurance

You may continue coverage for up to 36 months while on an unpaid leave, provided you continue to pay the premium.

University Insurance Association (UIA) Life Insurance

If you have paid the premium for the plan year, coverage continues until September 30th following the start of your unpaid leave.

If you are not actively on payroll on November 1st when the annual deduction occurs, you will receive a bill for the annual $24 premium and you will have until December 1st to pay your premium.  If premium is not paid by December 1st, your coverage will end as of September 30th with no option of conversion.

Accidental Death and Dismemberment

You may continue coverage for up to 36 months while on an unpaid leave, provided you continue to pay the premium.

Income Continuation Insurance

Income Continuation Insurance (ICI) premiums are paid for the current month of coverage. For example, the premium deduction from September earnings is for September coverage.

If you are approved for ICI benefits while on leave, your ICI premium is waived (you pay no premium) while you are receiving ICI benefits. You will start paying your ICI premium again when you return to work.

If you are not receiving ICI benefits while on leave:

  • You may continue coverage for up to 36 months while on an unpaid leave, provided you continue to pay the premium.
  • You are eligible for the employer contribution towards the premium for the first three months of the leave. You will pay the full premium after the third month.

Employee Reimbursement Account (ERA)

Health Care FSA

  • You may continue coverage by contributing the remainder of your annual election by:
    • Making one or more tax-free contributions from your last paycheck(s); or
    • Making after-tax payments directly to Department of Employee Trust Funds while on leave.
  • If you contribute your full annual election, you may be reimbursed for expenses incurred during the entire plan year.
  • In some cases, you may change your annual election by filing a Change in Status Form within 30 days of the start of your unpaid leave of absence. You cannot change your election to an amount that is less than you have already contributed when the leave of absence begins.
  • When you return to work, you may start an account or change your election amount again by completing a Change in Status Form within 30 days of returning to work.
  • If you do not contribute your entire annual election or file a Change in Status Form, coverage will end at the end of the month in which your last ERA payroll deduction was taken. Expenses for services provided to you after this date are not reimbursable and any remaining funds will be forfeited.
  • If you did not continue coverage during your unpaid leave of absence, you may reenroll within 30 days of your return to work. Any expenses incurred during the period in which you did not continue coverage are not eligible for reimbursement.

Dependent DAY Care FSA

  • You may either:
    • Contribute the remainder of your annual election by making one or more tax-free contributions from your last paycheck(s); or
    • Let contributions end when you go on unpaid leave.
  • Regardless of which choice you make, you can continue to request reimbursement for eligible expenses until the account is exhausted or through the end of the plan year.
  • Once you return from leave, you may start an account or change your election amount by filing a Change in Status Form within 30 days or your return to work.

Tax-Sheltered Annuity 403(b) Program (TSA) and Wisconsin Deferred Compensation 457 Program (WDC)

Contributions end on your last paycheck and resume when you return to work.

Wisconsin Retirement Service (WRS)

You do not earn any WRS service while you are on an unpaid leave of absence.

Leave Benefits

  • You do not earn any paid leave (sick leave, vacation, legal holiday) while you are on an unpaid leave.
  • Your annual vacation will be reduced for any time you are on an unpaid leave.
Every effort has been made to ensure this information is current and correct. This page does not guarantee enrollment or the ability to make changes to your benefits.