Leave of Absence Procedures

These procedures are intended to confirm current practice. If the provisions of these procedures conflict with an applicable collective bargaining agreement, the collective bargaining agreement shall govern.


With the exception of employees covered by the Unit 3 Collective Bargaining Agreement, this procedure shall apply to all Sonoma State University employees requesting paid time away from work in excess of ten workdays (excluding pre-approved, paid vacation time) or any unpaid time off of one full day or more (excluding established reduced work schedules).


The purpose of this procedure is to ensure that every attempt is made to treat all covered employees as described above consistently with regard to requests for and granting of leaves of absence.


Sonoma State University provides all employees with the opportunity to apply for time away from work for reasons as described below.

For purposes of this procedure, a leave of absence is defined as any approved unpaid absence from work of one full workday or more, or a paid absence in excess of ten workdays (excluding pre-approved, paid vacation time). A leave of absence may be full, partial (a reduced work schedule), or intermittent.

In all cases, such time off will be approved in compliance with applicable Federal and State laws, relevant Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBA), Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations, the operating needs of the University, and the nature and reason for the request. Personal leaves of absence that do not comply with the above mentioned regulations, will not be approved.

The Associate Vice President of Human Resources, as the President's designee, will review and approve all leave requests. In the event it is determined that the request must have Presidential approval, the Associate Vice President of Human Resources will forward the request to the President, who will respond within 45 days. Leaves requiring Presidential approval may include personal leaves, as well as leaves that are not covered by Federal and State laws, CBA's, Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations, or defined herein.

In all cases of approved leaves, employees are assured that, upon expiration of the leave, they have the right to return from leave to their former position or another position within their classification, in accordance with applicable Federal and State laws and/or CSU and SSU procedure.

It is the responsibility of every employee absent from work under the conditions described herein to comply with this procedure. Failure to comply with the procedure may result in an employee's absence being treated as Absent Without Official Leave (AWOL), which may lead to automatic termination, corrective action, and/or disciplinary action.

For represented employees, the respective collective bargaining agreement may supersede some provisions of this procedure.

Leave of Absence Process

Types of Leave

A leave of absence request may be requested for the following reasons:

  1. Family Medical Leave (pdf) (includes FMLA and/or CFRA)
    1. Medical Leave for Employee (industrial/non-industrial)
    2. Family Care
    3. Maternity/Paternity/Adoption
  2. Domestic Violence Victim Leave
  3. Pregnancy Disability Leave
  4. Bereavement Leave
  5. Military Leave
  6. Jury Duty Leave
  7. Absence as a Witness
  8. Leave to Accept Other Employment to Avoid Layoff
  9. Loan to Another Government Agency

This listing is intended to provide the most common requests for leave; it is not intended to be comprehensive.

Full, Partial, and Intermittent Leaves

A leave of absence may be full or partial (a reduced work schedule), depending on the requestor's circumstances. A partial leave of absence may consist of a time base reduction, and certain types of leaves may be intermittent as well as ongoing.

For Partial Leaves (reduced work schedule/time base reduction), a leave request form is required if the anticipated duration of the reduced schedule requested may exceed ten days.

For Intermittent Leaves-which may only be taken in the cases of Medical Leaves (either industrial or non-industrial) and Family Care Leave-a leave request form is required when the absences occur on more than ten workdays and is not an extension of an ongoing leave.

Appropriate Administrator Responsibility

Immediately upon learning of a leave or potential leave of absence as defined above-regardless of the reason-the Appropriate Administrator should notify the Payroll & Benefits Office and forward all appropriate documentation (see Section D).

The Appropriate Administrator is encouraged to consult with the Payroll & Benefits Office to determine if the employee is eligible for Family Medical Leave, and to review the leave conditions.

Notification and Approval Process

All employees must submit the Sonoma State University Request for Leave of Absence Form to their Appropriate Administrator for approval, along with all documentation available and/or required (e.g. medical certification, military papers, etc.).

Once initially approved by the Appropriate Administrator, the form is forwarded to the Payroll & Benefits Office to route for final approval, leave processing and tracking.

In all cases, the Payroll & Benefits Office will notify the employee and Appropriate Administrator of the status of the leave request.

All employee absences, regardless of circumstance, must also follow applicable department and/or SSU procedure in providing appropriate notification of the absence.

Family Medical Leave

In accordance with state and federal laws, Family Care and Medical Leave (FML) grants up to 12 weeks of family care and medical leave in a 12-month period. Eligible employees are entitled to FML to care for a child, parent or spouse who has a serious health condition; for the employee's own serious health condition; or for the birth, adoption, or foster care of the employee's child. As of January 1, 2021, the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) expanded the eligible relationships to include a sibling, parent-in-law, grandparent, or grandchild for which an employee is entitled to provide care due to a serious health condition. In circumstances where a leave qualifies for both FMLA and CFRA leave, the leaves will run concurrently for a total of 12 weeks.

In the case of FML/CFRA, if the leave is foreseeable, the employee must submit a completed leave request form no less than 30 days in advance of the leave (or less if in accordance with the relevant CBA). If the absence was not foreseeable and can be verified by appropriate documentation, the Request for Leave of Absence form will be completed by the employee (or their designee) within 24 hours of the leave start date, and given to the appropriate administrator for signature. Situations with extenuating circumstances will be handled on a case-by-case basis.

Unpaid Leave

As soon as the appropriate administrator is aware that an employee will be absent on an unpaid status for one full day or more, the Appropriate Administrator must notify Payroll and Benefits Office immediately.


Extensions of initial leave requests do not require submission of an additional leave request form. However, all extensions require appropriate documentation and must follow the same approval processes as the original request.

Maximum Duration

The maximum duration of a leave of absence varies based on the CBA, leave type and circumstance.

Medical Certification

Medical and Family Care leaves require a medical certification form or letter signed by the treating physician within 15 days of the leave request; re-certification in the event that any circumstances of the medical condition change; and return to work certification when the employee is ready to return from leave.

Notification Requirements

The FML requires specific notification by the employer, and FML utilization can only be tracked following this notification. The Employee Relations Department will be responsible for all written notification requirements as directed by the U.S. Department of Labor, as well as compliance with the Department of Labor's FML record keeping and processing instructions.