Staff Claims Frequently Asked Questions

What do I do if I have a personal illness or injury that prevents me from coming to work?

Under the Absence program, staff members with a personal illness or injury that prevents the staff member from coming to work between one and five days should contact their manager and report the absence as incidental sick time.  

Staff members with a personal illness or injury that prevents coming to work for more than five business days should contact The Hartford Insurance Company regarding eligibility for Extended Sick Time (EST) payments. The Hartford’s hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Central Time, Monday through Friday, and they can be reached at 1-888-541-7283.  Please be prepared to provide your doctor’s contact information, including the doctor’s phone number.

Once I am approved, how will I receive my EST benefit payments?

Benefit payment from the Hartford will be included in a regular biweekly or monthly paycheck(s).  EST will be listed as another earnings code on a paycheck.  EST will continue to be paid through the University Payroll System until the staff member is no longer disabled, or up to 26 weeks.

What if I am out intermittently for the same disability? Will I need to fulfill the elimination period each time I am out?

  • As long as these absences are related to the initial condition, occur within 90 days from the most recent return to work for a related illness, and the condition and first absence was approved by The Hartford, they are considered a recurrent disability.  This means the absence is paid as EST without having to satisfy another seven calendar day (five business days) elimination period. 
  • If the absences are not within the above time frame and do not qualify, staff may use incidental sick time (IST), personal floating holidays, or accrued vacation time to cover their absence.
  • If a staff member has exhausted the options above that allow for paid time away, the staff member may continue in an unpaid status.

What appeal option do I have if my doctor’s treatment plan conflicts with The Hartford’s recommendation for my return? 

This rarely occurs, but staff may appeal The Hartford’s decision, and that appeal is handled by an appeal unit at The Hartford.  If The Hartford, after two appeals, holds to their original decision, then a staff member may appeal the decision to the Office of Human Resources at Northwestern.        

How do I continue my health and dental benefits while I’m on EST?

Staff members on EST will continue their insurance benefits, and employee premium deductions will be reflected in their paychecks as usual.

Under the new program, what do I do if I’m pregnant?

If the staff member wishes to be off work beyond the approved period of disability (6 or 8 weeks depending on the type of birth), then she should contact The Hartford to discuss the impact of an extended leave on her FMLA status.  She should also discuss with the Benefits Division her desire to extend her period of time off and desire to use accrued vacation and/or personal floating holiday time during the period between when her EST payments cease and her return to work.  If she anticipates that her period of disability will exceed what was initially approved, contact The Hartford to discuss approval for continued EST payments.

Does the new program affect me if I’m on Workers’ Compensation?

Staff members who are receiving Workers’ Compensation should continue to coordinate their time off work with the Office of Risk Management.  Individuals receiving Workers’ Compensation must have their time off tracked in accordance with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), so those on Workers’ Compensation must also contact The Hartford to complete the FMLA paperwork.

If I want to take a personal leave, what do I do?

Personal leaves will continue to be administered by the Office of Human Resources at Northwestern University. If a staff member believes they require a personal leave, please contact the Benefits Division at 847-491-7513 or to determine eligibility.

I have a sick family member who requires extended care.  What are my options?

Staff may use their Incidental Sick Time to care for a sick family member.  Once those days have been exhausted, staff may use their personal floating holidays or accrued vacation time to cover their own personal absence or to provide care for a family member.

A new benefit program, NU Senior Care Connections, is now available and is designed to assist employees with managing the caregiving needs of their family members.  For more details, contact 855-772-2730 or\northwestern, or contact the Office of Work Life Resources at 847-491-3612 or