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Handbook of Operating Procedures

Sick Leave

Policy Number: 30


Eligibility for, use of, and accrual of sick leave


Eligible employees

Date Reviewed:
May 2021
Responsible Office:
Human Resources
Responsible Executive:
Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer


Employees appointed by The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston ("University") for a minimum of 20 hours per week for at least four and one-half months in a fiscal year may, when authorized, utilize accrued sick leave with pay for absences necessitated by personal illness, injury, or pregnancy and confinement, or when the employee is needed to assist a member of his/her immediate family who is ill.

Immediate family is defined as any person living in the same household who is related by kinship, adoption (including foster children certified by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services), or marriage. Minor children of the employee, whether or not living in the same household, are also considered immediate family. An employee's use of sick leave for family members not residing in that employee's household is strictly limited to the time necessary to provide care and assistance to a spouse, child, or parent of the employee who needs that care and assistance as a direct result of a documented medical condition. State statute prohibits the use of sick leave to provide care and assistance for family members related by marriage who do not reside in that employee’s household. An employee who is the legal guardian of a child by court appointment may use sick leave to care for the child.

Negative balances of sick leave cannot be carried forward from one month to the next. Employees must be placed on leave without pay for hours overdrawn on sick leave.

Each department is responsible for maintaining accurate records of sick leave entitlement, accrual and use. (Refer to HOOP Policy 24 Time and Attendance Reporting.)


A. Accrual

Employees accrue sick leave as follows:

  • Employees accrue sick leave beginning on the first day of employment and on the first day of each succeeding month thereafter. 
  • Regular employees earn sick leave at the rate of eight hours for each month or fraction of a month of employment. Less than full-time, benefits eligible employees accrue sick leave on a proportional basis. All unused sick leave will be carried forward each month. There is no limit to the number of hours that may be accrued.
  • If an employee is absent on a paid leave status, the employee will continue to accrue paid sick leave each month on leave. The hours accrued while on leave will be posted to the leave balance only when the employee returns to work. Should the employee fail to return to work, the employee is not entitled to the accruals.
  • Sick leave will be accrued for each month or fraction of a month of service proportionate to the time appointed. However, an employee on faculty development leave will accrue sick leave at the full-time rate.
  • No sick leave will be accrued for an employee who is on leave without pay that extends for at least one full calendar month.
  • An employee whose status changes from an eligible to an ineligible leave status will have all accrued sick leave balances frozen at the time of the status change. If the employee subsequently returns to an eligible leave status, the employee may recommence the use and accrual of sick leave.
  • Sick leave that was accumulated prior to extended military leave is frozen until the employee returns to employment, provided the employee meets the requirements specified in HOOP Policy 41 Military Leave.
  • If an employee is separated from employment with the state under a formal reduction-in-force and becomes re-employed by the state in a benefits-eligible position within 12 months after the end of the month in which the employee was separated, that individual's sick leave balance will be restored.
  • If an employee is separated from employment with the University for reasons other than reduction-in-force, and is re-employed in a benefits-eligible position by the University within 12 months, the employee must have a break in service of at least 30 calendar days with the State of Texas before sick leave balances can be restored. If an employee is re-employed in a benefits-eligible position by another state agency within 12 months following the end of the month in which the employee separated from the University (with or without any break in service), the employee’s sick leave balance will be reinstated at his or her new institution.
  • An employee who transfers directly from another state agency into a benefits-eligible position with the University will be credited with any unused sick leave, provided employment with the state was uninterrupted.
  • In the case of death of an employee who has accumulated sick leave, the employee's estate will be paid for such leave as permitted by law.

B. Use

1. Eligibility

To use sick leave with pay, the employee must notify or cause the supervisor to be notified promptly of the reason for any absence attributed to illness, on the initial day of the absence and each day thereafter.

2. Absences Greater than Three Working Days

For absences of more than three working days, an employee will be required to submit a statement from the attending healthcare provider (or some other written statement of the facts concerning the illness that is acceptable to the supervisor) upon returning to work. An employee who uses sick leave to care for a spouse, child or parent who does not reside with the employee and is not totally dependent on the employee, but needs the employee's care as a direct result of documented medical condition, must be able to provide a healthcare provider's statement concerning the spouse's, child's or parent's condition. It is within the discretion of the supervisor to require documentation concerning illnesses resulting in absences of three working days or less.

3. Release to Return to Work

An employee with an identified medical condition that may affect his or her ability to fulfill his or her job responsibilities must submit a healthcare provider's statement to his or her supervisor indicating he or she can safely return to work.

4. Abuse of Sick Leave

An employee whose behavior gives rise to the suspicion that sick leave is being used inappropriately may be required to submit a statement from an attending healthcare provider. This request is to be made at the discretion of the employee's supervisor. An employee who is discovered to have obtained sick leave pay under false pretenses is subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

5. Birth/Adoption of a Child

If an employee gives birth, sick leave may be used by the employee for the period following delivery and recovery associated with the birth of a child to the extent certified by the healthcare provider. If an employee’s spouse gives birth, the employee may use sick leave only if the child is ill or to care for his or her spouse while the spouse is recovering from childbirth. Sick leave may be used for the adoption of a child under the age of three and is limited to the amount of sick leave that would be necessary to recover from childbirth.

6. Educational Activities

An employee who is the parent of a child(ren) attending school (prekindergarten through 12th grade) is entitled to use up to eight hours of sick leave per fiscal year to attend educational activities of the employee's child(ren). This includes school-sponsored activities such as parent-teacher conferences, tutoring, volunteer programs, field trips, classroom programs, school committee meetings, academic competitions and athletic, music or theater programs. Employees must provide reasonable advance notice to, and obtain approval from, their supervisor for the leave.  Approval of the leave is at the supervisor's discretion.

7. Personal and Family Medical Leave Act Leave

All accrued sick leave and vacation time must be exhausted before a request for personal leave for medical reasons is submitted. (Refer to HOOP Policy 105 Personal Leave). Employees who wish to take family and medical leave for their own serious health condition(s), or to care for family members with serious health condition(s), should consult HOOP Policy 106 Family and Medical Leave for the circumstances and restrictions specified for that leave. Employees are required to use all accrued sick leave, if applicable, when taking leave under HOOP Policy 106 Family and Medical Leave.

C. Donation of Sick Leave

An employee may donate sick leave to another University employee if: (1) the recipient meets the sick leave eligibility requirements detailed in this policy; (2) the recipient has exhausted his or her own sick leave; and (3) the recipient has exhausted any time the recipient is eligible to withdraw from the sick leave pool (HOOP 37, Sick Leave Pool Program).

An employee who receives donated sick leave may use the donated sick leave only when necessitated by personal illness, injury, or pregnancy and confinement, or when the employee is needed to assist a member of his/her immediate family, as defined in this policy, who is ill.

An employee may not provide or receive remuneration or a gift in exchange for donated sick leave. The dollar value of donated sick leave will be included in the donor’s income by the University, and the University will withhold appropriate taxes.

Detailed procedures regarding the donation of sick leave may be found on the Payroll website.


    • Human Resources
    • 713-500-3130