Voluntary Leave

The University of Kansas offers a voluntary leave without pay with benefits program which allows an employee in a regular position to request leave without pay and retain health insurance coverage during the absence. Eligible employees must request voluntary leave without pay with benefits from their immediate supervisors and such requests must be sent to Human Resource Management (HRM) for review and final approval.  Voluntary leave without pay with benefits may be approved during a period of reduced unit activity or for personal circumstances.  Depending on the needs of the department and the employee, a voluntary leave may be full-time or part-time.  A minimum leave period of two weeks is required to participate in the voluntary leave without pay with benefits program and the leave period cannot exceed twelve (12) weeks in a twelve (12) month period.  An employee may request leave without pay for less than two weeks, but not through the voluntary leave without pay with benefits process.  For leave without pay for less than two weeks, the employee must request that leave through their departmental management.


All staff in regular positions are eligible to request voluntary leave without pay with benefits. Employees must take voluntary leave without pay with benefits for at least one pay period.

  • Non-exempt (hourly) part-time employees may take fewer than eight hours of voluntary leave per day for at least two pay periods.
  • Exempt (salaried) part-time employees may take fewer than five days of voluntary leave per week for at least two pay periods but cannot take less than one full work day.

This program does not affect an employee's eligibility to take paid leave under existing leave policies.  See KU's Voluntary Leave Without Pay with Benefits Policy.

Benefits Impact

  • When an employee is on voluntary leave without pay with benefits, the employee will remain in pay status by using accrued leave for a minimum number of days to ensure that health insurance deductions continue. The Payroll Office will provide the employee a “gross-to-net” projected calculation to determine the number of day(s) needed to ensure that the employee's deductions remain intact.
  • The employee's salary will be reduced because of the leave without pay; therefore, retirement contributions will be reduced as they are calculated as a percentage of salary:
    • Kansas Board of Regents (KBOR) unclassified retirement: The 14% contribution (employee and employer) will be based on the employee's actual, reduced salary paid during the pay period.
    • Kansas Public Employees Retirement System (KPERS):  Participation in the Voluntary Leave with Benefits program may impact earning KPERS service credit, depending on when the reduction in hours occurs and how long it lasts.  If the employee is considering retirement in the near future, this could cause a delay in accumulating the required/expected service credit. If the employee earns less salary using the voluntary leave program and you are considering retirement in the next four years, your final average salary will be impacted. The KPERS retirement formula uses the highest four years of salary, whenever they occur in your employment history. If you take voluntary leave and have less salary, the salary in that year most likely will not be one of the highest used in the KPERS retirement formula.
  • Based on employee status, leave accruals may be affected during the periods of leave without pay. Please review vacation accrual rates and sick leave accrual rates.  Also, eligibility for life insurance coverage and long-term disability benefits could be adversely affected based on reporting limited hours of work during the leave without pay period.

Requesting Leave Without Pay

Eligible staff must request leave without pay through their immediate supervisors. To request voluntary leave without pay with benefits for more than one pay period the employee must complete the Voluntary Leave Without Pay with Benefits Request Form (pdf) and submit it to their immediate supervisor for approval. If the immediate supervisor approves the employee's request, the department leader will then review the request to assure that the needs of the department can be adequately met during the requested absence. After the department leader approves the request, the Director of Human Resources will review and may provide final approval, after consultation with the appropriate dean or vice provost.

The University encourages department leaders to accommodate leave without pay requests whenever possible. Your cooperation will assist your unit and the University in dealing with its fiscal burdens while at the same time allowing for staff flexibility.

Leave Reporting

To assure health insurance and other benefits will be covered during the leave period, it is important that the employee either report paid leave, or work a portion of each pay period during your leave. Depending on the salary and the benefits programs the employee participates in, the employee is required to enter time in pay status each pay period for at least one or two days.  Employees are responsible for submitting absence requests while on voluntary leave without pay with benefits to include requests for leave without pay, requests to use available leave balances, or reporting hours worked.  The "gross-to-net" calculation provided by the Payroll Office staff will assist the employee in determining how much time in pay status is necessary to continue benefits and deductions.  If there is a holiday during the period of voluntary leave without pay, any period of time in a leave without pay status during the employee's normally scheduled work shift the day before or the day after the holiday will result in the employee being ineligible for holiday pay.

*An accessible version of the documents on this site will be made available upon request. Please contact our office at hrdept@ku.edu to request the document be made available in an accessible format.