UPS Policy Change

With the implementation of the University Personnel System (UPS), the information in this section has changed effective July 1, 2015. For more information on this topic, see the UPS website.


The Catastrophic Leave Program is available to help support employees who need to take an extended, unpaid leave of absence from work due to an illness or injury that either incapacitates the employee or the employee’s immediate family member. It allows University employees to voluntarily donate unused vacation, sabbatical/ALRA or personal/floating holidays to co-workers.

Eligibility & Program Rules


An employee must satisfy all of the following conditions to be eligible to receive leave donations:

  • You must be an active University of Wisconsin employee who earns sick leave; and
  • You must be in a University Staff, Faculty, Academic Staff or Limited appointment. Employees in student hourly, graduate assistant, employee-in-training, or University Staff Temporary appointments are not eligible for this program; and
  • You must be on an approved unpaid leave of absence due to catastrophic need of the employee or an immediate family member. The unpaid leave may be taken in non-continuous increments that are no shorter than one hour; and
  • You must have a leave balance of no more than 16 hours of combined accrued leave, including vacation, vacation carryover, personal holiday, and banked vacation (sabbatical/ALRA); and
  • You must have used all your available sick leave hours.
  • You must not be receiving other salary replacement income or benefits such as Income Continuation Insurance, Worker’s Compensation or income from other employment; and
  • You must complete an Employee Catastrophic Leave Request (UWS 420) form and submit it to the Chancellor or designee who determines recipient eligibility and have the request approved before any leave can be donated.
  • You must provide medical certification of the catastrophic need if your employer requires it.

An employee must satisfy all of the following conditions to be eligible to donate leave:

Program Rules

  • There is no limit to the number of donated leave credits a recipient may receive.
  • A donor may donate leave credits to any eligible recipient in any employee category. For example, University Staff may donate leave credits to not only other University Staff but also to Faculty, Academic Staff and Limited Appointees and vice versa.
  • A donor may donate leave credits to any eligible recipient, within the same UW institution or at another UW institution (including UW-Madison).
  • Leave must be donated in whole-hour increments only.
  • Sick leave hours and compensatory time may never be donated. 
  • Donated leave credits will not be transferred to the recipient's account until needed.
  • Donated leave credits will be deducted from a donor’s official leave accounting balance when
    the credits are actually used by the recipient. If a donor uses donated leave credits prior to use
    by the recipient, the donation is negated.
  • Donated leave credits will not be accepted if the recipient is no longer covered by catastrophic leave provisions (e.g., due to the recipient’s return to work, end of employment contract or resolution of the catastrophic need).
  • Donated leave cannot be used intermittently to extend the employer contribution towards benefits.

Forms & Publications