Catastrophic Leave

Eligible employees may donate accrued vacation leave to another eligible employee for use as sick leave during a catastrophic illness or injury, or for use as vacation leave during a family member’s catastrophic illness or injury. Eligible employees are faculty and staff who accrue vacation.

When leave is medically necessary due to an employee's own catastrophic illness or injury, contributions to that employee are applied as sick leave. The contributions are applied when the employee has exhausted all paid sick leave, vacation, and compensatory time to which they are entitled, and has not yet satisfied the 90 working day waiting period for long-term disability benefits. This is reviewed on a monthly basis.

The catastrophic leave program can be used for maternity leave if the employee does not have enough sick leave and vacation accrued to cover the six weeks (eight weeks for cesarean section) following the birth of a baby.  The program is available for maternity leave to cover the balance of the six week period immediately following the birth of a child.  Non medically-related bonding time beyond the six/eight week period must be taken as unpaid leave.

When leave is necessary for a catastrophic illness or injury in an employee’s family (spouse, domestic partner, child, or parent), contributions to that employee are deposited to their vacation leave. The contributions are used when the employee has exhausted all the Family Caregiving (Sick) Leave, vacation, and compensatory time to which they are entitled.

Information for Departments

The department will receive a copy of the approval letter from University Benefits when the faculty or staff member is approve for catastrophic leave.

  • University Benefits will process the paperwork to apply the hours in the employee's accruals, and will call the department monthly to determine the number of donated hours needed.
  • The department or the employee will complete the Monthly Time Record. 
  • University Benefits will communicate with the department monthly to verify the records. Once the employee’s accruals are used, code donated time as sick leave for personal use and vacation for family catastrophic leave. This may be regular sick or vacation time or FMLA sick or vacation time, depending on the situation.
  • Upon exhaustion of FMLA, use of catastrophic leave hours is at the discretion of the department. Catastrophic leave provides payment for approved unpaid leave.
Contact Information

University Benefits

Campus Address
120 USB
Mailing Address

120 University Services Building
Iowa City, IA 52242-1911
United States

Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.