Family and Medical Leave for Funded Graduate Students

Family and Medical Leave Options for Funded Graduate Students

The Graduate Studies Policy for Family and Medical Leave Accommodation for Graduate Students with Funding (GS2015-01) is designed to support communication and cooperation between students, faculty and department personnel and the good-faith efforts of all to accommodate outside demands so that students can successfully complete their program of study. Because graduate student support and employment is often variable by quarter, and because most graduate student employees do not meet the eligibility requirements for the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), it is the intention of this policy to provide a consistent and equitable leave accommodation for medical and familial needs. For an overview of Family and Medical Leave options, download our campus training presentation (PDF).

While the Planned Educational Leave Program (PELP) remains available to any student, the leave policy is offered as an alternative for students who are able to benefit from continuous enrollment in order to receive financial support during short periods where leave is appropriate.

Types of Leave

  • Short-Term Medical and Family-Related Leave
  • A student is eligible for 2 days (50% quarterly appointment) or 3 days (50% semester appointment) of leave not to continue beyond the end date of the appointment(s) for:

    - personal illness and/or disability;
    - the birth, adoption, or care of a child or family member; or
    -family emergencies.

    This leave is prorated for appointments less than 50%. This leave is paid for salaried employees and unpaid for hourly employees.
  • Long-Term Medical and Family-Related Leave
    (Serious Health Condition, Child-Bonding - Not Childbearing)
  • A maximum of 4 weeks leave, not to continue beyond the end date of the appointment(s) is available to students who:
    -have a serious health condition;
    - need to care for a family member who has a serious health condition; or
    - need to care for and bond with the student’s newborn child or a child placed with the student for adoption or foster care (within 12 months of birth or placement)

    This leave is paid for salaried employees and fellowship recipients; unpaid for hourly employees. Any accrued vacation leave may be used in lieu of unpaid leave, at the employee’s discretion. Leave must be taken continuously and may not be taken intermittently. Verification or medical certification is required. This leave is not to continue beyond the end date of the appointment(s).

    Additional Unpaid Leave for Serious Illness or Baby Bonding
    In addition to the Long-term Medical and Family-Related Leave, a student is eligible for 2 additional weeks of unpaid leave for their own serious health condition or in order to bond with a baby, not to exceed 6 weeks total leave. Any accrued vacation leave may be used in lieu of unpaid leave, at the employee’s discretion. Leave must be taken continuously and may not be taken intermittently; for baby bonding leave, the leave must be taken within 12 months of birth/placement. Verification or medical certification is required. This leave is not to continue beyond the end date of the appointment(s).
  • Long-Term Medical and Family-Related Leave
    (Pregnancy/Childbearing)
  • For pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions for the period prior to, during, and after childbirth, a student may receive a maximum of 6 weeks leave, not to continue beyond the end date of the appointment(s). This leave is paid for salaried employees and unpaid for hourly employees. Any accrued vacation leave may be used in lieu of unpaid leave at the employee’s discretion. Leave must be taken continuously and may not be taken intermittently. This leave runs concurrently with any Pregnancy Disability Leave and may be combined with any Short-term Medical and Family-Related Leave to provide 6 weeks and 2 days of paid leave for childbearing, if a student is eligible. Medical certification is required.

    Additional Unpaid Pregnancy Disability Leave
    Running concurrently with the Long-term Medical and Family-Related Leave for pregnancy and childbearing, a student is eligible for a maximum of four (4) months of unpaid leave per pregnancy and/or reasonable accommodation for pregnancy disability, childbirth, and related medical conditions. Medical certification is required. This leave is not to continue beyond the end date of the appointment(s), and not to exceed four months in a 12-month period. A student who accrues vacation leave, may at their option, use accrued vacation leave in lieu of unpaid leave. Vacation leave used runs concurrently with these benefits; vacation leave is not in addition to the amount of leave provided by this policy (no “double-dipping”).
  • Bereavement Leave
  • A student is eligible for 3 scheduled work days of leave due to the death of a family member (per occurrence). This leave is paid for salaried employees and unpaid for hourly employees. This leave is not to continue beyond the end date of the appointment(s).
  • Jury Duty Leave
  • Student employees receive leave for the duration of their jury summons, not to continue beyond the end date of the appointment(s). This leave is paid for salaried employees and unpaid for hourly employees. Verification is requirement.
  • Military Leave
  • Student employees who are called to active military service will be provided unpaid leave from their current positions to fulfill their military obligations to the extent required by applicable law. 

Eligibility and General Requirements

Doctoral and master’s students, including students in self-supporting and professional degree programs, who hold an academic employment appointment in the Academic Student Employee series (ASE: TA, AI, hourly Reader/Tutor) or as a Graduate Student Researcher (GSR) are eligible for accommodation under this policy, as are students supported by internal and external fellowships. 

  • Students shall not have their financial support reduced or eliminated while on an approved paid leave.
  • Students must be regularly enrolled throughout the leave period to meet employment and fellowship eligibility requirements and also to be considered for accommodations under this policy; the only exception to this requirement is during summer quarter when registering for units is not required.
  • A student who ends their appointment/award(s) is no longer covered under this policy.
  • Appropriate documentation must accompany all leave and return requests.
  • The accommodations provided in this policy are per situation or incident.
  • Any leave provided under this policy does not extend beyond the end date of appointment/award(s). However, should a student have multiple term appointments/awards (ASE and/or GSR and/or Fellowships) that are consecutive, the leave may span both appointment/award terms and the end date is considered the end date of the second appointment/award. Spring/Fall appointments/awards are not considered consecutive.
  • Any student on approved paid or unpaid leave will continue to receive benefits associated with their appointment/award for the duration of the approved leave under the same conditions that coverage would otherwise have been provided by the University or funding source if the student had not been on leave (tuition and fee remissions, health insurance premium, etc.).
  • Those who have accrued vacation leave may substitute accrued vacation for unpaid leave but shall not be required to use vacation leave. Vacation leave usage runs concurrently with these benefits and is not in addition to the total amount of leave provided by this policy. A student cannot use vacation leave during a period of paid leave (no “double-dipping”).
  • For student employees, unpaid leave may be granted for periods beyond the terms of leaves in this policy, at the sole discretion of the department (for ASEs) or Principal Investigator (for GSRs); benefits associated with the appointment/award will continue to be paid by the fund source when a student is on unpaid leave.
  • Any student benefiting from a leave accommodation from any other source within the University shall have those leave accommodations run concurrently with any leave provided by this policy.
  • Labor agreement leave articles take precedence over local campus policies as changes occur.
  • Definition of a family member: one’s mother, father, sister, brother, parent-in-law, spouse, domestic partner, parent of domestic partner, grandparent, grandchild, child, step or foster child (including children of domestic partner).
  • Definition of a serious health condition: an illness, injury, impairment or physical/mental condition that involves inpatient care and/or continuing treatment by a health care provider for a condition that causes more than three (3) full consecutive calendar days of incapacity.

Leave Funding Source

The paid leave will be paid by the salary source of the appointment/award or by the salary sources of a combination of appointments/awards. If a leave is the result of more than one qualifying appointment/award, the benefit will be charged proportionately to each funding source of appointments/awards. All benefits associated with the appointment or award continue to be provided at the same level throughout the approved leave period, whether the leave is paid or unpaid, by the salary source(s) of the active appointments or awards. For students on approved leave who have appointments/awards that span two quarters of the leave period (e.g. student has a fall quarter TA appointment and winter quarter GSR appointment), the leave will be paid by the hiring unit or funding source active during the leave period (proportionally for dual appointments/awards).


Leave Accommodation Fund

A centralized Leave Accommodation Fund is managed by Graduate Studies to pay the salary, benefits and/or stipend for some graduate student leaves. Funding from this source may be available in the following circumstances and only by approval of Graduate Studies:

  • In the event that the salary, benefits or stipend cannot be paid by the salary source because of funding rules prohibiting leave pay. Evidence of funding rule restriction must be provided.
  • In the event that a Graduate Student Researcher (GSR) is approved for pregnancy/childbearing leave and a replacement GSR is essential to the project and the Principal Investigator has identified an available and qualified replacement during the leave period. Evidence of replacement student hire must be provided.
  • Under only extraordinary circumstances, a department may request funding for a Teaching Assistant on approved pregnancy/childbearing leave; the request must include strong justification and must identify an available and qualified replacement for the leave period. Evidence of replacement student hire must be provided.

The Leave Funding Request Form must be submitted with appropriate evidence to Graduate Studies; if approved, funding for the student on an approved leave will be provided only during the paid leave period.


Frequently Asked Questions

  • Where can I find information about eligibility, types of leaves and requesting a leave?
  • You can find this information on the following pages:
    How to Request a Leave
    • Graduate Studies Policy on Family & Medical Leave Accommodation
    for Graduate Students with Funding
     (GS2015-01)

  • What is the difference between a PELP and the leaves described in the Graduate Studies GS2015-01 policy?
  • PELP, the Planned Educational Leave Program is a quarter-long (or more) interruption or pause from a graduate student's academic program; students may not be employed in a student title while on PELP and cannot receive fellowship funding as they are not in a registered student status. The leave accommodations provided for in the GS2015-01 policy allow students the ability to take shorter-term leaves while maintaining their registration and employment status; students may also continue to receive fellowship funding while on approved leave in most cases. A medical certification is required for leaves longer than 7 days under the GS2015-01 policy. PELP remains a good choice for the student who needs to take a longer term leave and cannot successfully continue their enrollment for the quarter.
  • Does a student need to be enrolled to be approved for a leave?
  • Yes. In order to hold a student appointment or receive a fellowship, a student must be registered and enrolled in full-time coursework. If a student received an exception to hold an appointment via a PEP approved by Graduate Studies, and they are appointed, then they receive the benefits of the appointment which include this leave accommodation. 
  • If a GSR is out on an approved leave, how is their effort reported on a grant?
  • Effort for a graduate student on an approved university leave should be reported as if the student was still working as expected; this is the same reporting expected for a PI on approved university leave. Effort is not affected. Additional questions on effort reporting should be directed to Accounting and Financial Services.
  • How does a leave provided for GS2015-01 affect course work?
  • Good communication between the student and each of their professors, supervisors, advisors, and graduate program coordinators is vital when a student requires a period of leave. Students who are employed as TAs and/or GSRs and who are enrolled in 396 or 299 units related to their employment, should continue to receive satisfactory grades while on approved university leave.

    For coursework unrelated to their employment, graduate students on approved leave should discuss grading options with their professor; depending on the length of the leave, students may wish to:
    • • Request extended deadlines and a plan for remediation of missed lectures or other work with their instructor.
    • • Request an "incomplete" (I) grade from their instructor. Students must remove the "I" grade before the end of the third succeeding quarter of academic residence; if the “I” is not removed by the end of the specified time, it will revert to an “F.” Under no circumstances should a student formally re-enroll in the course to make up an Incomplete; if part of the agreement between the student and the instructor for removing the Incomplete involves participation in a subsequent section of the course, a student should participate and complete the assignments but NOT formally enroll the second time.
    • •Petition for S/U grading for a graded course. While this status cannot be requested for courses that fulfill graduate program course requirements, it may be used for courses that fulfill general unit requirements. Students must receive a B- or better to receive a "S" grade. S/U petitions must be filed in Graduate Studies by the end of the fifth week of the quarter.
    • •Petition to drop a course. If it is before the 10th day of instruction, a student may drop a course through SISWEB; after the 10th day, students must file a Permission to Drop Petition with Graduate Studies. •Students should keep in mind that if they drop below 12 units, they will be ineligible for student employment and fellowship funding and therefore, ineligible for leave accommodations provided for in GS2015-01. Students who wish to be accommodated under GS2015-01 should only drop a course if doing so does not reduce to under 12 units.
  • If a student needs to be out for 1-2 days for a short illness, does the Leave Request Form need to be completed?
  • Graduate Studies does not require the Leave Request Form for periods of leave that are 7 days and shorter. However, a department may require the form at their discretion. These shorter periods of leave do not need to be entered into the payroll system.
  • Who approves a leave request for a student receiving a fellowship?
  • Whether the fellowship is internal or external, Graduate Studies must review and approve a leave requested if the leave will be for more than 7 days. A student should confer with their graduate program coordinator and submit the form to Graduate Studies; Graduate Studies will ensure eligibility requirements are met (typically that the student is in good standing and remains enrolled in 12 or more units). If there are funding restrictions, Graduate Studies will discuss options with the student.
  • Who approves a leave request for an employed graduate student (ASE or GSR)?
  • A student employed as a GSR, TA, Reader, Tutor or Associate In has their leave request approved by the home department of the primary appointment. When a student holds multiple appointments in more than one unit and/or over multiple terms, only one leave request should be completed and filed with the home department (primary appointment). The home department will take the lead role in coordinating the leave administration with the alternate departments.
  • How does the leave policy (GS2015-01) apply to a student who does not have fellowship and is not employed as ASE or GSR?
  • This policy applies only to students appointed to a student academic or research title or those with fellowship funding. A student who is self-funded or supported by loans or grants through the Financial Aid Office are not covered by this policy.
  • How does the leave policy (GS2015-01) interact with FMLA, the federal Family & Medical Leave Act?
  • As most students are not eligible for FMLA, this policy was developed to fill that gap and provide FMLA-like benefits. Should a student be eligible for FMLA, FMLA provisions take precedence over this policy and the home department should work closely with Graduate Studies to implement FMLA leave accommodations. 
  • I think I may have been discriminated against due to my request for a pregnancy-related leave. Who can I talk to?
  • Should a graduate student have questions or a complaint regarding possible pregnancy discrimination, they should contact the UC Davis Harassment & Discrimination Assistance and Prevention Program (hdapp.ucdavis.edu) at (530) 752-9255.