Employee Benefits - Leave and Holidays
C.E.S.P. 7-8: Catastrophic Leave Bank Program
Date Revised: 5-30-2017
Summary: Establishes policies and procedures governing the Catastrophic Leave Bank Program for Extension employees.
I. General Information
The Act sets out certain guidelines with regard to who is eligible to contribute to the program, who is eligible to participate in the program, and under what terms participation may be accomplished. The following definitions are provided for reference purposes.
- Catastrophic Illness means a medical condition of an employee, or a qualifying family member, i.e., spouse or parent of the employee, or a child of the employee claimed as a dependent under the Arkansas Income Tax Act of 1929, as certified by a physician (or other individual as provided in Ark. Code Annotated 21-4-201 et seq.) which requires an employee's absence from duty for a prolonged period of time or intermittent period of time and which, except for the catastrophic leave program, would result in a substantial loss of income to the employee because of the exhaustion of all earned sick, annual, holiday, and compensatory leave time.
- Catastrophic Leave means paid leave which is transferred to a leave recipient from the U of A Cooperative Extension Service Catastrophic Leave Bank. Catastrophic leave may be granted in one hour increments. While a recipient is on catastrophic leave, he or she will continue to receive standard benefits, such as employer contributions to insurance and retirement.
- Catastrophic Leave Bank (hereafter referred to as “the Bank”) means a pool of accrued annual and sick leave voluntarily donated by full-time, appointed employees which has been approved by the U of A Cooperative Extension Service for use by other employees.
- Catastrophic Leave Bank Program means a program approved by the Director of the State Department of Finance and Administration and administered by the Human Resources Office of the U of A Cooperative Extension Service.
- Catastrophic Leave Committee means a committee consisting of five members who represent a relative demographic cross-section of the U of A Cooperative Extension Service work force and who review employee applications for catastrophic leave and make recommendations to the Associate Vice President for Agriculture - Extension relating to such leave.
- Employee means a person who is regularly appointed by the U of A Cooperative Extension Service, compensated on a full-time basis, and eligible to participate in the University's fringe benefits program. A person who works less than full time (40 hours per week) is excluded from this definition and is not eligible to participate as a donor or recipient in the Catastrophic Leave Bank Program.
- Leave Donor means an employee whose voluntary written request to donate accrued annual and/or sick leave to the Bank has been approved by the U of A Cooperative Extension Service. No employee is allowed to be a leave donor if the donation will reduce that employee's combined accrued sick and annual leave balance to less than 80 hours. All donated leave becomes the property of the Bank, and donated leave may not be restored to the leave donor under any circumstances.
- Leave Recipient means a current employee for whom the Associate Vice President for Agriculture - Extension has approved an application to receive catastrophic leave from the Bank.
- Medical Condition means a personal emergency limited to catastrophic and debilitating medical situations, severely complicated disabilities, and severe accidents of the employee or a qualifying family member which cause the employee to be unable to perform assigned job duties, which require a prolonged period of recuperation, and which require the employee's absence from duty as documented by a physician (or other individual as provided in A.C.A. '21-4-201 et seq.). Elective surgery and/or disabilities resulting from elective surgery do not qualify for catastrophic leave.
- Prolonged Period of Time means a continuous period of at least thirty (30) working days or six (6) weeks whereby a medical condition prevents the employee from performing work duties.
- Intermittent catastrophic illness refers to catastrophic illness that has resulted in an “ongoing” condition for the employee or a qualifying family member that may require the use of sick leave at intermittent times due to the type of illness or injury. In intermittent catastrophic situations, an employee returning after a period of catastrophic leave might then be eligible for catastrophic leave on an intermittent basis for continuing treatment or transitioning back to work. The duration of all catastrophic leave (a block of catastrophic leave plus intermittent catastrophic leave) may not exceed six months, or 1040 hours, in a twenty-four (24) month period.
- Substantial Loss of Income means a period of time during which the employee will not be compensated by the U of A Cooperative Extension Service due to a medical condition of self or qualifying family member after the exhaustion of all the employee's earned sick, annual, holiday, and compensatory leave time.
II. Catastrophic Leave Guidelines
The committee will utilize the following guidelines to review catastrophic leave requests:
- No employee will be eligible for approved catastrophic leave in excess of six continuous months, or 1040 hours, in a twenty-four (24) month period.
- To be eligible, an individual must have been employed by the U of A Cooperative Extension Service or a state agency/institution in a full-time (100% appointed), benefits-eligible position for a minimum of one year. The employee must not have been disciplined for any leave abuse during the past one (1) year period from the date of application.
- An eligible employee must have exhausted all sick, annual, holiday and compensatory leave time, and, at the onset of the illness or injury, had to his or her credit at least eighty (80) hours of combined sick and annual leave. "Onset of Illness" means the initial beginning or start, as certified by a physician, of the medical condition which created the need for the catastrophic leave request. If a recurrence of the same illness necessitates a subsequent catastrophic leave request, the eligibility requirement that the employee have eighty (80) hours of combined sick and annual leave at the onset of the illness will not be required on the illness recurrence date.
- If the illness or injury is that of the employee and is covered by worker's compensation, the total amount of the catastrophic leave compensation plus the weekly worker's compensation benefit received by the employee cannot exceed the compensation being received by the employee at the onset of the illness or injury.
- No employee will be approved for catastrophic leave unless the employee has provided an acceptable medical certificate from a physician (or other individual as provided in A.C.A. ''21-4-201 et seq. and 6-63-602) supporting the continued absence and setting forth that the employee is and will continue to be unable to perform the employee's duties due to a catastrophic illness of the employee or a qualifying family member. Information relative to the employee's assigned duties must be made available to the physician and to the Catastrophic Leave Committee.
- If the employee is requesting catastrophic leave to provide care for a qualifying family member, a statement must be submitted from the physician and from the employee indicating why constant care is needed from the employee. An employee requesting catastrophic leave to provide care for a child must certify the child is his or her dependent.
- In no case will the employee be granted catastrophic leave beyond the date certified by a physician as the date when the employee is able to return to work because the health of either the employee or the qualifying family member has sufficiently improved.
- Once approved, catastrophic leave will be counted toward the employee’s rights to leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA).
- Catastrophic leave requests which would result in a negative balance in the Bank will not be approved.
- The decision of the Associate Vice President for Agriculture - Extension will be final and binding. The Associate Vice President for Agriculture - Extension will consider the impact on the organization's operation when granting or denying catastrophic leave or modifying previously approved catastrophic leave.
- Applications for catastrophic leave will be reviewed on a first-filed, first-considered basis.
III. Catastrophic Leave Committee
This five-member advisory committee consists of employees selected by the Associate Vice President for Agriculture - Extension. A Human Resources Office staff member will serve as an ex-officio, non-voting member and will assure that all basic eligibility requirements for catastrophic leave are met..
The committee will select a chairperson from its membership. Committee recommendations require a minimum of at least four voting members. No committee member will cast a vote if there is an obvious conflict of interest or if the request comes from that member's department.
The charge of the Committee will be:
- Review Catastrophic Leave Requests where basic eligibility requirements are met.
- Recommend action to the Associate Vice President for Agriculture – Extension, who makes the final decision to grant or deny the catastrophic leave request.
IV. Prohibition of Coercion
No employee may directly or indirectly intimidate, threaten, or coerce, or attempt to intimidate, threaten, or coerce, any other employee for the purpose of interfering with any such employee's decision to donate or receive catastrophic leave.
V. General Rules of Operation
- Eligible employees on catastrophic leave will continue to accrue leave in accordance with existing leave policies. Any leave earned while an employee is on catastrophic leave must, as a condition of voluntary participation in the program, be assigned to the Bank, and any restriction concerning the maintenance of minimum leave balances will not apply to such assignment. If an employee is on catastrophic leave for even one day in an accrual period, all leave earned during that period shall be returned to the Bank. Exceptions may be made for employees awarded intermittent catastrophic leave.
- Employees on catastrophic leave will receive normal benefits such as employer contributions to insurance and retirement. Employees on catastrophic leave will continue to receive their normal pay and the employee’s merit increase eligibility date will not change; however, the employee’s next merit salary increase will be delayed for the same number of days the employee was on catastrophic leave or on administrative leave without pay.
- Receipt of catastrophic leave shall be limited to the start of long term disability (LTD) payments, or a maximum of six (6) months.
- Any unused catastrophic leave will be returned to the Bank in the event the employee terminates employment, retires, or returns to work prior to the expiration of the previously approved catastrophic leave period. An employee may be dismissed if he or she fails to report to work promptly at the expiration of the approved catastrophic leave period. The Catastrophic Leave Bank Program does not create any expectation or promise of continued employment.
- Donations to the Catastrophic Leave Bank Program may only be submitted during the annual December open donation period, upon resignation or upon retirement. No employee will be allowed to donate leave to the Catastrophic Leave Bank Program if such donation would reduce that employee's combined accrued sick and annual leave balance to less than 80 hours. Employees must make any accrued annual and/or sick leave donations in one (1) hour increments. This does not apply to employees who are terminating their employment.
- Catastrophic leave will not be awarded retroactively.
VI. Record Keeping Requirements
In order to comply with State rules, the U of A Cooperative Extension Service Catastrophic Leave Program must include a record keeping procedure which tracks:
- The hours donated by each employee, the rate of pay and the dollar value of such donated leave at the time of donation;
- The hours of catastrophic leave awarded, including the name of the recipient, position number, rate of pay and social security number; and
- Any other data as required by the Director of the Department of Finance and Administration or the U of A Cooperative Extension Service.
These records should be retained by the U of A Cooperative Extension Service subject to audit by the Department of Finance and Administration and the Division of Legislative Audit.
To make a donation to the catastrophic leave bank, use this form:
To request catastrophic leave, use these forms and call the Human Resources office at 501-671-2219 to review eligibility requirements: