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September 29, 2016

HR Column

staff matters art


Curious if you’re on track for a comfortable retirement? Uncertain about how to advance your professional development? Wondering if there is a Pitt discount available for a large purchase you’re considering? This column aims to answer your Pitt Human Resources questions. This week we address time off and leaves of absence.

Who is eligible for time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)? Who is eligible for short-term disability?

Full-time and part-time staff are eligible for time off under FMLA if they have worked at the University for 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months and have worked at the University for one year in total.  Generally, 1,250 hours means that a staff employee must work at a level of 65 percent effort or more for the full 12 months prior to a leave in order to be eligible for FMLA.

FMLA can be used for the birth or adoption of a child, a serious medical condition of the staff member or to care for a seriously ill dependent, spouse/partner or parent. Read the FMLA guide for more details:

Other FMLA leaves are available for family members of those in military service.

Staff employees who have been employed for at least six months at 50 percent effort or more also are eligible for short-term disability, which provides 60 percent income replacement after a 30-day “elimination” or waiting period.

During staff employees’ time off on FMLA and/or short-term disability, they must deplete their accrued sick time and have the option of using vacation and/or personal time, all of which is paid at 100 percent. For short-term disability, if the employee’s accrued days do not fulfill the elimination period, the time will be unpaid until short-term disability pay begins. Additional information about short-term disability can be found under the leave guide section of the Benefits website:

What is approved absence and how can it be used? 

Approved absence is a paid leave granted to staff employees who are absent from work due to an emergency or other unforeseen circumstances. Approved absences must be approved by your supervisor, and are many times at the discretion of the responsibility center leader. Examples of approved absences are when staff are told not to report to work because the University is closed due to inclement weather or because the electricity is expected to be out in a University building for a full day. Approved absence is an available hours type on your PRISM TRKS timecard.  It should not be used when documenting time off for FMLA and/or short-term disability.

What is release time in PRISM TRKS and when can I use it?

Release time may be used to attend pertinent noncredit career and/or personal development courses and workshops administered through the Office of Human Resources. Release time may not exceed eight hours per term and must be approved by your supervisor in advance.  Your supervisor must sign the faculty and staff development program registration form to authorize your attendance at the sponsored workshops/seminars. Other activities such as attending Staff Association Council meetings may be considered for release time at the discretion of the supervisor. Temporary staff employees are not eligible for release time.

When may I use a sick day?

Accrued at a rate of 7.5 hours per month for regular full-time staff and on a prorated basis for regular part-time staff, sick days may be used when the staff employee is ill, has a doctor’s appointment or needs to care for a dependent, parent or spouse/partner. Staff members who are absent from work for more than three consecutive days for any of those reasons should contact MetLife at 1-888-777-7418 to file for FMLA. Sick days also can be used when your child’s school is closed, such as for inclement weather or some emergency. Other situations, such as an ill pet, require use of vacation or personal time and are not appropriate for use of sick time. For additional details, visit:

I’m changing jobs at Pitt. What happens to my accrued time?

When a staff employee transfers without any break in service to a new staff position at the University, his/her sick/vacation/personal time accrual balances carry over to the new position. The rate at which the staff employee earns time off (the accrual rate) also carries over to the new position. If the staff employee leaves the University, any accrued vacation time will be paid the month following the termination date. Personal time is not a payable benefit, and therefore will be forfeited upon terminating employment. If, when a person leaves the University, certain age and service time criteria are met, sick time will be paid at a fraction of the employee’s pay rate up to $2,500 the month following the termination date. More information about this payout can be found in the staff handbook:

Have a question you’d like answered by the Office of Human Resources in an upcoming issue? Email your questions to Employees’ names will not be published.

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