Extended Sick Time FAQs

Please contact the Benefits Division at benefits@northwestern.edu or 847-491-7513 if you have a question not addressed here.    

Questions about Extended Sick Time (EST)

Who’s eligible?
All active benefits-eligible full-time and part-time staff including post doctoral fellows. For employees hired after January 1, a 37.5 hour workweek is the minimum to be considered full-time;18.75 hours/week is the minimum to be considered benefits-eligible part-time.  

What is the cost of EST to me?
There is none. The University pays the full cost.     

How long can I receive EST benefits?
After the seven-calendar-day elimination period, the plan will pay 100 percent of your salary for up to 26 weeks (this time period includes the elimination period).    

Do I have to use all my vacation and sick time before going on EST for a personal health issue?
No. Extended Sick Time will be paid for an approved absence after a seven-calendar-day elimination period. Employees can use incidental sick and vacation time during this waiting period to continue getting paid.

What is considered a disability for Extended Sick Time?

  • You are considered disabled if you are unable to perform one or more of the essential duties of your occupation.
  • Things such as the birth of a child, injuries, accidents, surgeries, and serious illnesses are covered under Extended Sick Time.

How do I file an Extended Sick Time claim?

  • For a scheduled absence, you may call up to 30 days prior to your last day at work.
  • For an unscheduled absence, call as soon as possible.
  • You will speak with a nurse when you file your claim.


What else is required when I file a claim?

Contact your manager or supervisor to let him or her know about your absence from work.


What can I expect when I am on an Extended Sick Time claim?

  • When a decision is made on your claim you will receive a phone call and a letter from The Hartford.
  • Extended Sick Time benefits will be included in your biweekly or monthly paycheck from   Northwestern University.
  • Resources available to you if you want to obtain information about your claim:

–        Call and speak to a representative during regular business hours (Monday – Friday 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. Central Time)

–        Call and use the automated voice system available 24/7

–        Go online to www.thehartfordatwork.com available 24/7


What do I need to do if something changes during my Extended Sick Time? 

  • Contact The Hartford if you need to request an extension of your claim.
  • Contact The Hartford if you are going to return to work earlier than expected.


Is there a pre-existing condition provision for the EST program?

Do vacation and service accrue while staff are out on Extended Sick Time?
Yes, provided the EST has been approved by The Hartford.