Leaves of Absence

Administrative guidelines for staff leaves, including sick leaves and maternity leaves. 

Leaves by Employee Group

To learn which specific leave entitlements employees’ are eligible for, select the UBC employee group below, where you will also find information on how employees apply for temporary leave and what will happen to UBC benefits coverage while on leave. 

Sick Leaves and Unpaid Medical Leaves

All employees have sick leave benefits; however, the amount of paid sick leave and the accrual process is different based on the employment group. For specific information on sick leave benefits for different employment groups, please consult the relevant collective agreement or handbook.

Short-Term Sick Leave

From time to time, employees have an illness or injury that prevents them from performing their jobs. Employees may use their sick leave benefits to cover such absences with medical documentation, particularly if the leave is lasting for more than five days. For specific information on how sick leave reserve is calculated, click on the following employment groups:  

Student Employees
Student employees are not entitled to sick time. If the student is unable to work on the scheduled day, he/she can make up the time (if possible and with the approval of their supervisor) otherwise no hours should be submitted for that day. If the student is paid monthly, the missed hours should be deducted from their pay via a time sheet sent to UBC payroll.

Long-Term Sick Leave

If an employee is off for a longer period of time and their sick leave has been exhausted, below are steps to transition from paid sick leave to unpaid leave.

  • The employee may choose to use their vacation first before going on unpaid leave
  • Once the vacation is exhausted, the employee will go on unpaid leave
  • For unpaid medical leave, the employee should apply to the department in writing, including a doctor’s certification of the illness and a prognosis of the employee’s expected return date. You will then process a Leave of Absence form to notify Financial Services that the employee is going on unpaid medical leave.
  • Please advise the employee to apply for Employment Insurance (EI) Sickness Benefits from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada as soon as the employee receives the Record of Employment (ROE) from Financial Services. (Ensure that Financial Services has the employee’s current home address since they will mail the ROE after the employee’s last paycheque has been generated.)
  • The employee may request a copy by filling out the Request for Information form.

For information on the employee’s benefits while on unpaid leave, click on the following employment groups:

If you are uncertain how to proceed should your employee request a sick leave, please contact your HR Associate. For information on how to proceed when an employee returns from a medical leave, click here.

Income Replacement Plan / Disability Benefit Plan 

UBC employees have access to long-term disability plans. The Income Replacement Plan (IRP) / Disability Benefit Plan (DBP) are available to all employee groups. The plans are employee-funded plans that provide a monthly income if an emplyee is unable to work for an extended period of time due to illness or injury.

  • CUPE 2950 employees can apply for the Income Replacement Plan (IRP) (long term disability plan) after four months on sick leave.
  • Non-Union Technicians can apply for the Income Replacement Plan (IRP) (long term disability plan) after six months on sick leave.
  • AAPS employees (who have passed probation) have six months sick leave per illness, which bridges them to IRP.

Income Replacement Plan and Disability Benefit Plan Information by UBC Employee Group

For information on short-term sick leave, please visit the Leaves section 

Return to Work Program (RTW) 

UBC has a Return to Work Program (RTW) which is a collaborative process involving departments, unions and staff at UBC to facilitate the safe and earliest possible return to work from absence due to injury, illness or a medical condition. 

An employee’s return to work may involve temporary or permanent modifications or adjustments in job duties or workplace arrangements in order to accommodate a disability of an individual staff or faculty member. The program is designed to meet the requirements of British Columbia’s Human Rights Code (1996). 

A personalized RTW plan is developed by a staff Case Coordinator in consultation with the staff, their physician and/or other health service providers, their bargaining agent and their department. 

Who can access the Return to Work Program? 

  • Staff or faculty members may self refer to the RTW Program
  • With the knowledge of the staff or faculty member, departments may refer employees to the RTW Program
  • With the knowledge of the staff or faculty member, bargaining unit members may refer to the RTW Program

To contact the RTW program, please call or email the HPP Assistant (604.822.3101 or, who will refer you to an HPP Case Coordinator. 

If the employee has permanent accommodations, HR and the unit will look at whether those can be met within the unit or, whether another position would be more suitable elsewhere on campus. Employee’s positions are held open for them for two years from the date of leaving the workplace. 

For more information on the Return to Work Program visit the UBC HR website.

Returning to Work after a Medical Leave  

When employees are ready to return back to work from a medical leave, they should provide a doctor’s note to confirm that they are fit to return to work, specifying a return date and if any accommodations are needed.

An employee’s return to work may involve temporary or permanent modifications or adjustments in job duties or workplace arrangements (e.g. part-time hours) in order to accommodate the return of the individual.

If the employee requires modifications or adjustments and the doctor’s note does not provide enough detail, please contact your HR Advisor for advice on obtaining additional information in order to meet the accommodation that the employee needs. 

Student Employees: Sick Time during Working Hours 

Student employees are not entitled to sick time. If the student is unable to work on the scheduled day he/she can make up the time (if possible and with the approval of their supervisor) otherwise submit no hours for that day. If the student is paid monthly, deduct the missed hours  from their pay via a time sheet sent to UBC payroll. 

Maternity, Parental, and Adoption Leave 

Maternity/Parental leave is a total of 52 weeks: 17 weeks maternity leave and 35 weeks parental leave. Maternity leave, by legislation, can only be taken by the natural mother. Parental leave can be taken by the father or mother. Adoption leave (37 weeks) is also available.

Questions that employees often ask: 

Guide for employees

A step-by-step guide to taking a maternity, parental or adoptive leave  at UBC is available from the UBC Human Resources Benefits website that you can pass on to the employee. It will guide the employee through:

  • Notifying the Department of their leave
  • Requesting a Record of Employment
  • Applying for Employment Insurance (EI) benefits available from Service Canada
  • Applying for UBC Supplemental Employment Benefit (SEB) top-up\
  • Maintaining their benefits while on leave
  • Enrolling their newborn on the UBC benefits plans

General Information for Administrators

  • Vacation time should be taken either at the beginning or end of the maternity/parental leave, but not during it, as it will adversely affect the calculations.
  • Maternity leave must start on a Monday.
  • EI allows 17 weeks maternity leave with 15 of those weeks paid. The 2 week waiting period is unpaid by EI, but paid by UBC (95%) if the employee is enrolled in the SEB plan.
  • EI allows 35 weeks parental leave with all those weeks paid. UBC allows 35 weeks parental leave, but the entire leave is unpaid. During these 35 weeks the person only receives their EI payment.
  • UBC cheques will be deposited directly into the employee’s account once all information has been received by Financial Services.

Administrative Steps

  • Employee should notify their supervisor and the departmental administrator as soon as possible in writing that they will be going on Maternity leave.
  • Maternity leave must start on a Monday.
  • Administrator notifies Payroll with a Leave of Absence Form.
  • Department must also notify billing clerk if being charged back to the hospital.
  • The employee must go to Financial Services in person to sign the SEB benefits memo in the presence of a shop steward or manager. This is their agreement to pay back 100% of the Supplemental Employment Benefits (SEB) if they do not return for an equivalent of 6 months’ full time work. This memo can be signed when they pick up their ROE or earlier by making arrangements with Pat Dollard in Financial Services.
  • A Record of Employment (ROE) is issued after their last paycheque.
  • The ROE is electronically sent to the EI office. If the employee wants a copy, they need to request if from Finance Dept.
  • There is a two-week waiting period for the EI application to clear and usually several weeks until the employee receives the first EI cheque.\
  • The employee must submit a copy of the approved EI benefits before SEB Plan payments will start.

Supplementary Employment Benefits (top-up)

  • The Supplemental Employment Benefits (SEB) Plan for Maternity leave is commonly referred to as the UBC top-up payment.
  • The SEB is made up of two parts. The employee can receive the first part, which brings her up to 95% of salary, during her maternity leave, with the additional 5% once she has returned to work. Full-time employees must return for an equivalent of 6 months full-time work. Part-time employees must return for an equivalent of 6 months part-time work. This decision can be made at any time during her maternity leave.
    The total value of the UBC and EI payment is 95% of salary. The remaining 5% is paid by UBC if the person returns to work for an equivalent of 6 months of full time work.
  • EI pays up to 55% of the employee salary. The actual calculation is made when the ROE is turned in. UBC pays the difference up to 95%.\
  • CUPE 116 and 2950 employees can request the 5% immediately upon return to work.
  • If the employee does not return to work for the equivalent of 6 months full time work all SEB money received must be returned.
    Both the EI and SEB payments are taxed, but they are taxed independently of each other.


  • The employee will have to decide if she is going to maintain optional benefits such as extended health, pension etc.
  • If she wants to maintain benefits, she must respond to the LOA benefit invoice that she’ll receive from the benefits contact person in Financial Services.
  • It will inform her as to how much her share will be and how she will pay for them, as benefits are not deducted from the SEB payment.
  • The Baby Enrolment Form will be given to the mother in the hospital and it must be sent to the LOA benefit contact person in UBC Financial Services ASAP (if the employee has MSP through UBC plan).

Billing Information for Administrators

  • If the employee has applied for SEB, the top up portion may be covered by central benefits or the Department, depending on the account that is used.
  • Maternity leave for G0000, S0000 and R accounts is entirely covered by the central benefits account.
  • Maternity leave for S1000, E0000, F0000 and Z0000 accounts is covered entirely by the Department.
  • There will be a delay in the benefit charges showing up on the PG, but once it has started they are billed monthly.
  • SEB is charged starting when the employee sends Financial Services their EI cheque stub. It takes about one month for them to appear. (Note: Employees can decide to receive the SEB at any time during their maternity leave and as a result charges can start to appear at any time during the leave).

Admin Tips

  • Staff appointments must be extended to cover maternity leave.
  • If the grant ends during the maternity leave, the position must still be extended and the grant must pay for its portion of the maternity benefits.  In most cases,
  • The BC Human Rights Act prevents employers from giving notice to someone when he or she is off on maternity (or sick) leave. See your UBC HR Advisor promptly for guidance.
  • If the position has ended the person is owed notice when they return to work. The amount of notice will depend on the length of time they have worked for UBC. After three years in a grant-funded position, they are treated as a regular employee and they get one month for every year they have worked.
    If there is no money left in the grant to cover these expenses, an application can be made to the Extraordinary Insurance Fund.

Operational Planning

  • When an employee notifies you that they are going on a maternity and/or parental leave, start thinking about how you plan on covering the position.
  • If the position needs to be filled, it is best to start the process at least 2 months before the employee goes on his/her leave, depending on how long the crossover training will take.
  • When you are posting the position, you must remember to post it as a leave replacement.
  • There are situations where the employee may wish to extend their leave after parental leave ends. The leave may be extended as an unpaid leave due to personal reasons should the Department/unit approves such request.
  • When it is time for the employee on leave to return to work, it is best to have some crossover period for the leave replacement and the returning employee to go over work changes.