Policy Number: 423

Policy Suffix:

I. General Policy

This policy applies to all faculty and staff employees who are eligible for benefits.

A benefits-eligible employee is eligible to apply for short-term disability (STD) leave when they are unable to perform their job duties due to a non-work-related injury or illness (including a pregnancy-related leave). STD pays 100% of an employee’s regular salary for the first 8 weeks of an approved STD leave, and 80% for an approved STD leave during week 9 and beyond, minus all regular payroll deductions for the period of absence. Health, welfare and retirement benefits also continue for up to one year from the original leave date (including the Rice subsidy), except for the accumulation of paid time off (PTO) accrual, holiday pay and recess pay during the STD leave.

II. Roles and Responsibilities

Human Resources (HR): HR is responsible for establishing and maintaining the process for requesting STD leave. It is also responsible for reviewing and approving or denying requests for STD leave, or delegating that authority to a third-party STD administrator.

Employee: Employees are responsible for requesting STD leave. The employee must contact HR or the STD administrator, follow the procedure for applying for STD leave, and abide by all requests for information directed to the employee or their health provider(s).

Supervisor: Supervisors may also request STD leave on behalf of their employee. A supervisor should receive prior approval from the employee or, if the employee is incapacitated, the employee’s emergency contact before submitting an application.

III. Definitions

Regular position: A budgeted position of ongoing need with an expected duration of six months or more.

Temporary position: A position of specific and/or limited need with an expected duration of less than six months.

Staff employee: An employee whose primary assignment is designated as staff.

Faculty employee: An employee whose primary assignment is designated as faculty.

Benefits-eligible employee: An employee whose position(s) requires 20 or more hours per week and at least 1,000 hours each year, and who is eligible for Rice’s fringe benefits.

Full-time employee: An employee who has a work schedule of 40 hours per week and 12 months per year (2,080 hours per year).

Part-time employee: An employee who has a work schedule of fewer than 40 hours per week or fewer than 12 months per year.

IV. Elaboration of Policy

a. Elimination period

The period of pay and benefits continuation for staff begins after an elimination period of five days where the employee was normally scheduled to work. If the staff employee has accumulated PTO, it will be applied to cover the first five days of absence at 100% of pay for each STD leave. Faculty members begin short-term disability on the first day of their approved, covered STD leave.

Staff employees will not be paid for those days absent if they do not have PTO available to cover the elimination period. If a holiday or recess occurs during the elimination period, the absence is counted as PTO and not as holiday or recess pay. Staff members do not receive extra holiday or recess time for missed holidays or recess time while on STD leave (even if using PTO during the elimination period). Staff cannot use benefit time to supplement their pay while on STD leave.

b. Amount of time covered

The maximum STD leave for each illness or diagnosed injury (including additional absences for the same diagnosis) depends on length of employment in the table below. If an employee on STD leave reaches a service anniversary that places the employee in a different category, the employee will, if approved, receive the longer period of paid leave.

Length of Employment Faculty Professional Staff Technical/Support Staff
0 - 6 months ½ Academic Years Salary 0 days 0 hours
6 + months - 3 years ½ Academic Years Salary 65 days 520 hours
3 + years ½ Academic Years Salary 130 days 1,040 hours

c. Amount of salary paid

The approved short-term benefit covers 100% of the employee’s base pay for the first 8 weeks of approved STD leave, and 80% for approved STD leave during week 9 and beyond. The university’s STD program will fund 80% of the employee’s base pay and the department will fund the additional 20% during the first 8 weeks of leave. The department may not supplement an employee’s pay after the first 8 weeks of leave, so the employee will be limited to 80% pay starting in week 9 of any approved STD leave.

Pay increases normally scheduled for July 1 do not take effect while a person is out on an approved STD leave but may be applied to the employee’s active duty pay once the employee returns from leave.

d. Intermittent leave

STD is not available for intermittent medical leave. The employee should remain on disability leave until ready to return to work and can perform the essential functions of their position with or without a reasonable accommodation. In most cases, staff will be expected to use PTO for intermittent absences due to medical conditions. Supervisors and department chairs should contact HR in circumstances that may justify an exception.

e. Coordination with Research Policy 311

Employees must be in a paid work status during any period in which STD payments are received. (For example, employees on 9-month pay schedules are not eligible to receive short-term disability during the summer months when they would not normally be paid). In limited circumstances, benefits-eligible faculty employees who would otherwise be paid from sponsored projects may request STD pay from May 16 - August 15 for a period no longer than generally funded by their summer research grants. These may include faculty employees who historically receive summer salary, and who were scheduled to receive summer salary during their STD leave. The faculty members department chair, in consultation with the Controller's Office, will recommend to HR an appropriate period based on historical and current year funding.

f. Multiple periods of disability

If the same or related causes lead to additional periods of disability after an employee returns from approved STD leave, the leave may be calculated using the original benefit schedule. The total hours or days covered are reduced by the time already used for that instance of disability.

Each STD leave resulting from a new cause will be considered separately, and STD benefits may be used for more than one unrelated disability per plan year, subject to the service-related limits below.

g. Limits on total time allowed

  • Employees with less than 10 years of service are allotted 26 weeks total in five years.
  • Employees with more than 10 years of service are allotted 52 weeks total in five years.

h. Eligibility of part-time employees for short-term disability

Part-time employees are eligible for short-term disability benefits. The total benefit will depend on the proportion of a full year the employee is currently scheduled to work, and the salary paid is 100% of the current base salary at the part-time level for the first 8 weeks of their approved STD leave and 80% for approved STD leave during week 9 and beyond.

i. Receiving payments

STD payments begin after the application for STD leave is approved, and after the elimination period for staff. The employee receives STD payments in the same way the employee usually receives their normal compensation.

The university will pay STD benefits only for approved STD leaves. Should the employee or their physician not provide the required documentation regarding their disability to the STD administrator, the university will not pay the employee during their absence. Should differing opinions be offered by the individual's physician and the administrator, the individual may appeal the decision, as provided by the Plan.

If a disability claim is initiated after an employee returns to work, or after the first payroll within the STD leave period, the subsequent paycheck(s) will be adjusted to reconcile any overpayment that may have occurred due to timing of the claim and approval of the leave.

j. Return to work

Before an employee resumes work, the employee must be released to return to work by their physician and the return must be approved by the STD administrator. The university will attempt to return employees to the same or a similar position. Employees whose STD leave or STD leave in combination with personal/family leave does not exceed 12 weeks, and who are covered by FMLA, will be returned to the same or an equivalent position. In other cases, the university does not guarantee reinstatement at the end of an STD leave.

V. Cross References to Related Policies

Rice University Policy 403: Benefits Eligibility

Rice University Policy 405: Paid Time Off

Rice University Policy 417: Family/Medical Leaves

Rice University Policy 407: Workers; Compensation

Rice University Policy 311: Salary Support through Sponsored Projects

VI. Responsible Official and Key Offices to Contact Regarding the Policy and its Implementation

Responsible Official: Executive Vice President for Operations, Finance, & Support

Key Office: Human Resources


Reginald DesRoches, President

Policy History

Clerical Changes

March 14, 2018

January 18, 2023

February 1, 2023

March 4, 2024


June 24, 2010 (Supersedes 423-98)

June 16, 2023

Policy No. 423