Leaves of Absence


Northwestern University offers a variety of leaves of absence for eligible staff members. Each leave of absence varies in its provisions with respect to availability, duration, holding the position, benefits available, and contributions for those benefits, as well as documentation and approvals.

A leave of absence allows an individual to temporarily leave a University position with an intention to return to that position. During the leave the individual maintains a relationship with the University that provides access to certain benefits and does not break service. 

Types of Leaves of Absence

The following pages describe the provisions for ten kinds of leave of absence available from the university, and provide guidance to staff members wishing to pursue leave.

  • Medical Leave is absence to care for a personal serious health condition.
  • Maternity Leave is absence for a woman following the birth of her child.
  • Family Care Leave is absence for the adoption of a child, or for a father of a newborn child, or for placement of a child in foster care, or for a serious health condition affecting a spouse, parent, child, or declared same-sex domestic partner.
  • Birth/Adoption Parental Leave (BAPL) is absence for a parent following the birth or adoption of his/her child.
  • Illinois Victims' Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA) leave is for a staff member who is a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking, or has a family or household member who is a victim of domestic or sexual violence.
  • Military Leave is absence for military reserve training, or for active military service for employees who enlist or are inducted into the armed forces of the United States. 
  • Military Caregiver Leave is absence to care for a military service member who is the employee's spouse, domestic partner, child, or parent with a serious illness or injury incurred in the line of active duty.
  • Worker's Compensation Leave is absence for the recovery from a work-related illness or injury.
  • Personal Leave is absence taken for personal development related to University employment, for research, for travel, or after the expiration of leave for personal medical or family care.
  • Repatriation Leave (Qatar) is for those who return to the U.S. after assignment in Qatar.

Leave of Absence Checklist for Staff

Planning the Leave                                
  • Consult the Staff Handbook and/or Leave of Absence Section of the Benefits website for information on leave eligibility requirements, procedures, and potential impact to benefits. 
  • Consult the Benefits Division for clarification on any leave policies, procedures, or impacts to insurance coverage. 
  • Contact The Hartford as soon as possible, preferably 30 days prior to the start of your leave. 
During the Leave
  • Respond promptly to information requests/communications from The Hartford or the Office of Human Resources.
  • If an extension to your initial leave is needed contact The Hartford in a timely manner (prior to the expiration of your current leave).
  • For approved intermittent or continuous FML only leaves (no Extended Sick Time), enter time in Kronos and submit for manager approval according to payroll cutoff dates and pay schedules. Please note that vacation and sick time do not accrue while on unpaid leave. 
  • For any portion of your leave that is unpaid, contact the Benefits Division regarding payment of benefit premiums. 
Returning to Work
  • Notify the Benefits Division and The Hartford that you returned to work. 
  • Complete/submit any Benefit Election forms, if applicable.
  • Update tax withholding information, if applicable. 

Contact Information 

The Benefits Division is committed to helping you find the information you need to help you assess the need for a leave and navigate the leave process. For questions, please contact the Benefits Division at (847) 491-7513 or benefits@northwestern.edu

To apply for FMLA and/or disability benefits. please contact The Hartford at (888) 541-7283. 

For more information on Worker's Compensation Leaves, visit the Office of Risk Management's webpage