Leave, Sick Time for Personal and Family Reasons: Exempt Employees and Graduate Assistants


All exempt faculty, staff and graduate assistants

Policy Statement

Syracuse University provides paid sick and safe leave (collectively, sick time), including compliance with New York State’s Paid Sick Leave, to all exempt faculty, exempt staff and exempt graduate assistants (collectively, employees and graduate assistants). In general, sick time is available to be used for personal injury, illness, health or safety reasons, or to care for an eligible family member due to their injury, illness, health or safety reasons.

I. Sick time may be used for the following reasons:

(i)  for a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition of the employee/graduate assistant or their family member, regardless of whether such illness, injury, or health condition has been diagnosed or requires medical care at the time that they request the sick time;

(ii)  for the diagnosis, care, or treatment of a mental or physical illness, injury or health condition of, or need for medical diagnosis of, or preventive care for, the employee/graduate assistant or their family member; or

(iii)  for an absence from work due to any of the following reasons when the employee/graduate assistant or their family member has been the victim of domestic violence pursuant to subdivision thirty-four of section two hundred ninety-two of the New York State executive law, a family offense, sexual offense, stalking, or human trafficking:

a.  to obtain services from a domestic violence shelter, rape crisis center, or other services program;

b.  to participate in safety planning, temporarily or permanently relocate, or take other actions to increase the safety of the employee/graduate assistant or their family members;

c.  to meet with an attorney or other social services provider to obtain information and advice on, and prepare for or participate in any criminal or civil proceeding;

d.  to file a complaint or domestic incident report with law enforcement;

e.  to meet with a district attorney’s office;

f.  to enroll children in a new school; or

g.  to take any other actions necessary to ensure the health or safety of the employee/graduate assistant, or their family member, or to protect those who associate or work with them.

The reasons outlined above in subparagraphs a. through g. must be related to the domestic violence, family offense, sexual offense, stalking, or human trafficking. The person who has committed such domestic violence, family offense, sexual offense, stalking, or human trafficking shall not be eligible for sick time under this section for situations in which they committed such offense and was not a victim.

II. Eligible Family Members

The following individuals are eligible “family members” for whom sick time may be used:

  • employee’s/graduate assistant’s child (biological, adopted or foster child, a legal ward, or a child of an employee/graduate assistant standing in loco parentis);
  • spouse;
  • domestic partner;
  • parent (biological, foster, step or adoptive parent, or a legal guardian of an employee/graduate assistant, or a person who stood in loco parentis when the employee/graduate assistant was a minor child);
  • sibling;
  • grandchild;
  • grandparent; and
  • child or parent of an employee’s/graduate assistant’s spouse or domestic partner.

III. Availability of Sick Time

The University provides paid sick time, on an as needed basis, to exempt employees and graduate assistants. All exempt employees and graduate assistants remain subject to University policies relating to time away from work and absenteeism. The University has discretion to determine, based on individual circumstances and the needs of a particular work area, whether absences are excessive and constitute abuse of University policies. Excessive absenteeism and/or abuse of University policies may result in discipline, up to and including discharge.

Exempt employees and graduate assistants may generally take no more than 56 consecutive hours of paid sick time for eligible reasons. Benefits eligible exempt employees should consult the Syracuse University Salary Continuation Plan regarding disability benefits. Other exempt employees and graduate assistants should consult the Disability Plan regarding extended absences. Absences of more than three consecutive days due to personal or family illness may be covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and/or New York State Paid Family Leave Act, if eligible. The University reserves its right to consider these other benefits for employees given each specific leave situation.

IV. Notice

Employees and graduate assistants who need to use sick time should notify their supervisor or department designee prior to using such time. If the employee/graduate assistant seeks to use the sick time for a purpose that is known in advance (e.g. a scheduled doctor’s appointment), they should provide notice to their supervisor or department designee as far in advance as possible. The University reserves the right to ask for documentation and/or an employee’s/graduate assistant’s written certification to support sick time usage when authorized by law or regulation.

V. Payment of Sick Time

Sick time used will be paid at the employee’s/graduate assistant’s regular rate of pay.

VI. Sick Time Upon Separation From Employment

Unused sick time will never be paid out. Unused sick time at separation from employment will be forfeited.

VII. Concurrent Use with Other Forms of Leave

To the extent permitted by applicable law and where applicable, the University will require employees and graduate assistants to use paid sick time under this policy concurrently with other statutory or University-provided leaves of absence.

VIII. Compliance with Collective Bargaining Agreements, New York State Paid Sick Leave Law and Other Legal Requirements

The University will frontload to each employee/graduate assistant the applicable paid sick time upon hire and at the beginning of each calendar year in compliance with New York State Paid Sick Leave Law. The frontloaded hours will be in addition to any paid sick time the employee/graduate assistant is otherwise already entitled to under this policy. Also, in accordance with New York State’s Paid Sick Leave, unused sick time at the end of each calendar year will be maintained as carryover to subsequent calendar years.

To the extent a bargaining unit agreement mandates alternative requirements, then that agreement will control for the respective bargaining unit members. This policy is intended to meet all provisions of the New York State Paid Sick Leave Law and will be interpreted to do so. In the event there is a local leave law (such as city or county law) that mandates additional usage of sick time, then such other law controls.

IX. Additional Information

Questions concerning sick time should be directed to the employee’s or graduate assistant’s supervisor, or to the Office of Human Resources at hrservice@syr.edu or 315.443.4042.

Benefits eligible employees who were reclassified as non-exempt, according to the records of the Office of Human Resources, for the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) changes made by the University in 2016, will continue to follow the sick time policy for exempt employees.

The University reserves the right to interpret its policies and to amend, modify, or terminate those policies at any time.

Date: December 2020

Policy Administration

Human Resources

Procedures and Related Information

Disability Benefits & Salary Continuation Plan

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

Paid Time Off and Leave Policies