Military Leave

Overview

UW employees who meet certain requirements are eligible for military leave benefits through the State of Wisconsin. There are two different military leave benefits – an annual 30-day military leave benefit if you are in the reserves and a 4-year benefit if you are called to active duty from the reserves.

Eligibility

Eligibility for military leave benefits is determined by your appointment type and the nature of your military leave. See the Eligibility by Appointment Type summary to see if your appointment type is eligible for military leave benefits.

Your Responsibilities

Annual 30-Day Military Leave Benefit

If you are a member of the reserves (National Guard, State Defense Force, or any other military reserve), you can take up to 30 working days of leave per year to attend military schools and annual field training or annual active duty for training, and any other state or federal tours of active duty, except extended active duty service or service as a member of the active armed forces of the United States. This leave is not granted for absences that are less than three days.

During this period, you receive the difference between your UW pay and military base pay. This is referred to as differential pay. If your military pay is higher, you can take an unpaid military leave of absence or use paid leave, except sick leave, to remain on payroll.

During this period, you may maintain all benefits, accumulate paid leave, and earn Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) service credit (limits may apply).

4-Year Military Leave Benefit if Called to Active Duty from a Reserve Status

If you are in the Wisconsin National Guard or a member of the reserve component of the U.S. armed forces and you are called to active duty from a reserve status, you are eligible for up to four years of military leave.

During this period, you receive the difference between your UW pay and the total of your military base pay, including your military housing allowance (BAH). This is referred to as differential pay. If your military pay is higher, you can take an unpaid military leave of absence or use paid leave, except sick leave, to remain on payroll.

During this period, you may maintain all benefits, accumulate paid leave and earn Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) service credit (limits may apply).

Benefits During Military Leave

Before your military leave, you need to decide if you want to maintain your benefits during your leave. You should complete the following two forms and give them to your benefits office:

You may continue all of your benefits during a military leave and you are eligible for the employer contribution towards your State Group Life Insurance and Income Continuation Insurance premiums for the entire duration of your leave, regardless of whether or not you receive UW pay during your leave.

You may also choose to stop your benefits while on military leave. If you stop your benefits, you will be able to re-enroll in those benefits within 30 days of returning to work.

If any benefit plan has an open enrollment during your military leave, you have 30 days from your return to work to enroll in those plans.

Maintaining Your Benefits during a Paid Military Leave of Absence

If you are receiving differential pay during your military leave because your UW pay is higher than your military pay, your benefit deductions will come out of your UW pay.

Maintaining Your Benefits during an Unpaid Military Leave of Absence

If you are not receiving differential pay during your military leave and you want to maintain your benefits during your military leave, you can do the following:

  • Have multiple benefit deductions from paychecks before the unpaid leave of absence begins; or
  • Receive and pay a monthly invoice for cost of benefits (must be paid timely on a monthly basis). Contact your benefits office for more information.
  • Stay on payroll at a reduced level so benefit deduction can be taken from your pay. When you return to work, any pay received during this period must be paid back to the UW.

Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS)

While on military leave, you receive WRS service credits based on the number of hours you would have worked.
If you receive differential pay, you must pay WRS contributions on the differential pay received during your leave.
When you return from your military leave:

  • If your military leave is partially or fully unpaid and you did not contribute your full WRS employee contributions, you can pay some, all, or none of the WRS contributions based on your full UW salary when you return to work. See the USERRA Certification form (ET-4560) for additional information.
  • You must complete the USERRA Certification form (ET-4560) upon your return to work to indicate whether or not you want to pay any WRS contributions associated with your military leave.
  • You may make up any or all of the WRS employee contributions beginning with the date of reemployment, and ending on the earlier of: (1) three times the period of military service, or; (2) five years.
  • The University will make employer contributions to match any employee contributions you pay. If you choose not to pay your WRS employee contributions, the University will not make any employer contributions.
For more information on military leave and WRS service credits, refer to ETF's WRS Military Service and Your Benefits webpage.

Leave Benefits

  • You will earn vacation, sick leave, personal and legal holidays during any approved military leave of absence.
  • You have two consecutive years following the year that you return to work to use any leave you had prior to your military leave plus the amount of leave earned during the military leave. For example, if you return to work on July 15, 2013, you have until December 31, 2015 to use the accumulated hours.
  • If you are covered by the 4-year military leave benefit, you have 180 days from the date you are formally discharged from the military to return to work. During this 180-day period:
    • You are on a personal leave of absence; and
    • You may use paid leave per employer policy during this period.