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Voluntary Seasonal Leaves


LSA encourages units to consider creative ways of providing opportunities for increased seasonal appointment flexibility for staff who might find it valuable. Voluntary seasonal leaves or reduced appointments are a possibility for those whose positions might be adaptable to such changes. These changes require a discussion with, and approval by the unit management and must be in line with the business needs of the unit. This policy does not apply to employees covered by AFSCME.  

This outlines some of the guidelines involved in seasonal reductions and to answer initial questions.

General guidelines

  1. Seasonal leaves can range from three weeks to a maximum of 6 months.
  2. Reductions in fraction of appointment for either a portion of the year or the full year can also be considered.  This could include shorter workdays or shorter workweeks.
  3. Approval of seasonal leaves/fraction reductions are at the discretion of the employing unit and must be approved by the supervisor and finally the Chief Administrator, Chair or Director. The leave does not specifically need to take place over the summer if another time period during the year fits the needs of the unit and the assigned duties of the position.

Guidelines for the employee

  1. Individuals may find the idea of a reduced fraction to their appointment or seasonal leave advantageous for many reasons: savings related to childcare arrangements during the summer months, increased chances to travel, or time to take on a second career. Others may be thinking about a future retirement and want to ease into that possibility (though volunteering for a seasonal leave does not indicate that you are considering retirement or lead to any assumption of this).
  2. The first step in requesting a leave would be to talk with your supervisor about whether this might be feasible for your position. If there is agreement that it is a possibility, then a formal leave form should be completed and submitted to your supervisor for consideration (sample attached and available by clicking here.)

The following apply to seasonal leaves

  1. Staff members whose appointments remain at 75% or more during the period of active employment are eligible for continuance of University contributions to staff benefits (excluding retirement) while on leave (health insurance, dental and life insurance coverage for the period of the seasonal leave of absence will be deducted from the staff member’s last paycheck prior to the seasonal leave). Employees are on unpaid time during the period of the leave (pay cannot be recalculated and distributed over the period of the leave). Staff members may send (after-tax) contributions to TIAA-CREF directly during their leave.
  2. Sick time is not affected by seasonal leave. An employee maintains their vacation balance while on leave but does not continue to accrue additional vacation time. Both sick and vacation time can only be used during periods of active employment.
  3. Staff members can work for another outside employer while on seasonal leave from U-M or can work as a temp hourly for the university in a different position.
  4. Staff members are considered ineligible for unemployment compensation while on seasonal leave.

The following applies to reduced fractions

  1. A reduction in fraction results in a proportional reduction in pay as well as sick time, vacation accrual, and retirement contribution.

Guidelines for the Supervisor and Chief Administrator

  1. Decisions for determining whether a position can be reduced for a portion of the year should be made on a case-by-case basis by the supervisor, Chief Administrator and Chair or Director, working with the employee and other staff whose workload might be affected by the reduction.
  2. The supervisor should evaluate the impact of the potential reduction on the groups served by this position (faculty, students, other staff members and other units) as well as the workload for the position at that time of year in conjunction with other staff position workload peaks and slow times. It may be possible for another position with “down time” to take on some of the tasks identified.
  3. The impact of Fall Term start up must also be considered in determining summer leaves and negotiating the return (or return to full time) date.
  4. It may be possible to identify tasks that could be considered “non-essential” based on budget constraints and to remove these from the workload for the position by eliminating them entirely.
  5. Reducing one appointment may increase the ability to focus remaining staff members’ time on higher priority issues during lower pressure times. This may lead to more interesting work for the staff during the slower periods.
  6. Consider the possibility of creating a shared staffing arrangement with another unit whose needs over the summer match yours. If you need assistance exploring this option, the LSA HR Office would be happy to work with you on this possibility.