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Going on military leave

UC supports its employees’ desire to serve in the military. If you need time away from your job for uniformed service (including active duty), training for active or inactive duty, full-time National Guard Duty or to be examined for military fitness, you may apply to take a military leave. To take a military leave, follow these steps.

Talk with your supervisor.

Military leaves of absence and supplements to military pay should be requested in accordance with the procedure for requesting leaves of absence at your location. For additional information regarding military leave, non-represented employees should refer to the Absence from Work Policy and represented employees should refer to the applicable bargaining contract.

Request for Supplement to Military Pay 

The Supplement to Military Pay Policy describes the salary supplement that is provided to those University academic and staff personnel serving on active military duty in support of an ongoing overseas military mobilization campaign. All employees who, as members of the National Guard, the Armed Forces, the commissioned corps of the Public Health Service, or any other category designated by the President, are serving on active military duty in support of an ongoing overseas military mobilization campaign are eligible for supplements to their military pay. The Supplement to Military Pay will extend for a period not to exceed the employee’s tour of active duty or until the separation date of an employee’s University appointment, whichever comes first.  

The employee’s department and the employee, or the person who holds the power of attorney on behalf of the employee, are responsible for completing the Supplement to Military Pay Worksheet. The purpose of the worksheet is to calculate the gross Supplement to Military Pay and to obtain acknowledgment from the employee that any overpayments will be returned to the University.

Make sure your benefits are in order.

In most cases you’ll receive regular pay for the first 30 days of a military leave. (This period may vary, depending on your employment status, payroll deduction schedule, date your leave begins and/or any collective bargaining agreement that may apply.) During this time, your benefits coverage continues automatically, with both you and UC making premium contributions as usual.

If you want to continue coverage after the first month, contact UCPath to arrange to pay the full premiums — both your and UC’s portions — yourself.

If you choose to cancel your benefits during your leave, you’ll need to complete an election form (available from UCPath). For any benefits you cancel (or if you don’t pay premiums on time), your coverage ends the last day of the last pay period for which premiums are paid.

Here’s how to handle specific benefits in advance of a military leave.

Health & Welfare Benefits

Medical, dental, vision and legal: If you want to continue coverage through the sixth month of your leave, contact your benefits representative to arrange in advance to pay the total monthly premiums. To continue medical, dental or vision coverage for up to an additional 18 months after that, you may apply for COBRA continuation coverage. WageWorks, a company that handles COBRA for UC, will send you an information packet with instructions. You’ll send the enrollment forms and premiums directly to WEX Health. You have 60 days from the date you lose coverage (or 60 days from the date you receive notice from UC of your eligibility for COBRA, if later) to apply. Depending on your medical plan, you may be able to continue coverage for another 18 months under CalCOBRA. You’ll need to apply within 31 days after your COBRA coverage ends.

For medical only, another possibility is to apply — within 31 days after your group coverage ends — for conversion to an individual policy. Your benefits representative can help with the details. Or you may apply to the insurance carrier directly for individual coverage, which could provide better benefits for less. The Affordable Care Act’s health insurance exchanges might also provide options.

If you’re enrolled in TRICARE military medical coverage and continue your UC coverage, TRICARE becomes your primary insurer, while your eligible family members’ primary coverage will be through UC.

If your medical or dental plan is an HMO and you’ll be away from its service area for more than two months, contact your benefits representative within 31 days about transferring to a different plan. The procedure for enrolling or de-enrolling a family member in plans is unchanged during a military leave.

Basic life and core life: You don’t need to do anything; your coverage continues at no cost to you for up to four months beginning your first day of leave.

Supplemental life, basic dependent life, expanded dependent life: To continue coverage for up to six months, contact your benefits representative to arrange in advance to pay the premiums. Or you may apply within 31 days after your UC coverage ends to convert to individual policies. Another option is to apply for the portability benefit, which allows you to buy a group policy similar to your UC coverage. Your benefits representative can help with the details.

Basic and voluntary disability, business travel accident, workers’ compensation: Your coverage continues during the paid portion of your military leave and stops your last day before the unpaid portion of your leave starts.

Accidental death and dismemberment: If you want to continue coverage for up to 31 days, contact your benefits representative to arrange in advance to pay the premiums. Accidents that happen while you’re on active duty aren’t covered.

DepCare and health flexible spending accounts: You can be reimbursed for eligible expenses you incur through the end of the pay period in which you made your last contribution. Be sure to submit expenses by April 15 of the following year or you’ll forfeit funds left in the accounts. You can continue health FSA coverage through December 31 of the current plan year through COBRA; you’ll make direct after-tax payments to your account.

Tax savings on insurance premiums: Contributions stop with your last paycheck. If you continue medical coverage, you’ll pay premiums on an after-tax basis.

Auto/Homeowner insurance: If you’d like to continue coverage to the end of the year, contact the insurer to arrange to pay premiums directly.

Vacation and sick leave: You don’t accrue these during the unpaid portion of a military leave. You may use accrued vacation, but not sick leave, to extend your paid leave.

Retirement & Savings Benefits

UCRP: Your contributions and any Capital Accumulation Payment (CAP) balance must remain with UC. You’re still eligible for any UCRP benefits you were eligible for when your military leave started. You’ll keep accruing service credit as usual during the paid portion of your leave. You also earn UCRP service credit—in some cases more than usual—for time you spend in uniformed service and for a period afterward, as long as you return to work at UC and let UC know in writing of your intent to do so. See establishing service credit in Step 4 below.

DC, 403(b) and 457(b) plans: Contributions stop with your last paycheck. If you have an outstanding 403(b) plan loan and suspend payments during your leave, when you return you’ll resume payments at the same rate. But you’ll need to complete repayment by the original maturity date of the loan, making a final lump sum payment if necessary. Contact Fidelity for more information.

If you have a UCRP service credit purchase in progress, you won’t make payments during your leave. You can resume payments when you return to work.

If you have an outstanding 403(b) loan, contact Fidelity to arrange to suspend payments during your military leave. Or you may make monthly payments, pay the amount you’ll owe for the period you’re off pay status, or repay the total amount.

When you return, contact UCPath.

  • If you continued coverage, it continues automatically. If you re-enroll in the DepCare or Health Care FSA plans after a military leave of less than 120 days, your monthly contributions must be the same as before your leave.
  • If you didn’t continue coverage, you may sign up within 31 days of your return for the same plans with the same coverage you were enrolled in before your leave. If you miss this 31-day period, some plans allow you to enroll at any time, but with a 90-day waiting period before coverage begins; after that, you’ll have to wait until the next Open Enrollment. For some plans, if you sign up later you’ll have to submit a statement of health and your application may not be accepted. For AD&D, you may enroll at any time.
  • For voluntary disability, you may enroll or re-enroll during your first 31 days back at work. If your leave was less than 120 days, you must choose the same level of coverage (short-term, long-term or both) as before your leave; if longer, you may select any level of coverage. Depending on the length of your leave, you may be subject to exclusions based on pre-existing conditions.
  • You may opt out of the TIP plan during the first 31 days after your return.
  • If you continued auto/homeowner insurance, tell your payroll representative to resume your deductions. If you canceled coverage, contact the insurance company anytime to restart it.
  • If you transferred to a different medical or dental plan because you moved out of the plan’s service area, you may transfer back within 31 days of your return.
  • If you have a previous UCRP service credit purchase underway, or an outstanding 403(b) loan, tell your payroll representative to resume your payroll deductions. For the purchase, if additional interest is due for your time on leave, it will be added to your balance. Your payment period will be extended and your deduction amount won’t change. For the 403(b) loan, your payments will resume at the same rate, but you’ll need to keep the same repayment schedule, making a final lump sum payment if necessary.

Consider a UCRP service credit request for your leave.

Service credit for your military service is not granted automatically. You must submit form UBEN 132 (Service Credit Verification Request) with documentation to the address on the form.

The amount of service credit you earn while on leave varies:

  • For active duty of any length, or active duty training of more than 180 days, or National Guard or Naval Militia active duty ordered by the federal government, it’s the period of military service, plus up to an additional six months. You must notify UC in writing that you intend to return to work within six months of the end of your uniformed service.
  • For all other military service of more than 30 and less than 181 days, it’s the period of military service plus up to an additional 14 days. You must notify UC in writing that you intend to return to work within 14 days of the end of your uniformed service.
  • For all other types of military service of less than 31 days, it’s the period of military service. You must return to work on the next regularly scheduled workday after your leave ends.

Consider catch-up contributions.

You have five years (or three times the period of your military leave, if shorter) to make up contributions that you would have made to your Retirement Savings Program plans if you had been working continuously at UC. Contact Fidelity for more information.

Review your first pay statement carefully.

It’s your responsibility to let UCPath know about any mistakes.

If you end UC employment while on leave, help transition smoothly.

  • If you’ve been receiving supplemental military pay, contact your department to report any difference between your estimate of your military income and what you actually received. If you were underpaid, you’ll receive the balance due, and if you were overpaid, you’ll need to repay the University.
  • If you want to continue benefits coverage through COBRA (for medical, dental, vision or health FSA) or by converting to an individual policy (for medical, legal, life or AD&D), your benefits representative can assist you. You can also check out Leaving UC Employment.
  • If you have a 403(b) loan outstanding, you need to either repay it in full or, before you leave, arrange to make monthly payments to Fidelity. If you don’t take action within 90 days, the loan will be reported as a taxable distribution.
  • Contact your state unemployment office to find out if you’re eligible for unemployment.
  • If you decide to retire, contact the Retirement Administration Service Center. You should do so before you elect to retire, since a military leave may affect your retirement benefits. You’ll find the information you need at Preparing for Retirement.