Section 15. Leaves of Absence
A. Employees shall not be entitled to leaves of absence as a matter of right, but only in accordance with the provisions of law and this code. Unless otherwise provided, the granting of a leave of absence also grants to the employee the right to return to a position in the same class, or equivalent class in the same department, as held at the time the leave was granted. The granting of any leave of absence shall be based on the presumption that the employee intends to return to work upon the expiration of the leave. However, if a disability retirement application has been filed with the County Board of Retirement a leave may be granted pending a decision by that Board. Nothing in this Section 15 shall abridge an employee’s rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act.
B. Total Period of Leave: Except for Disability Leaves as provided above and in Section 15.4 (2) (c) below, no leave of absence or combination of leaves of absence when taken consecutively, shall exceed a total period of twenty‑six (26) biweekly pay periods.
C. Approval and Appeals: Initial action to approve or disapprove any leave of absence shall be by the employee’s department head; however, leaves of absence of more than two (2) biweekly pay periods must also be approved by the Human Resources Director. Denial of requested leave in whole or in part at the department head level may be appealed by the employee to the Human Resources Director, whose decision shall be final.
15.2. Benefit Entitlement
To the extent consistent with applicable local, state and federal laws, employees on leaves of absence without pay in excess of two (2) biweekly pay periods shall not be entitled to payment of the County’s portion of the premiums for their health, dental, life, or long-term salary continuation insurance, except as provided hereinafter or in accordance with legal requirements. The entitlement to payment of the County’s portion of the premiums shall end on the last day of two (2) full biweekly pay periods in which the employee was absent. An employee who is granted a leave of absence without pay for reasons of the employee’s illness or accident shall be entitled to have two (2) biweekly pay periods of the County’s portion of the insurance premiums for each year of County service, or major fraction thereof, up to a maximum of twenty-six (26) biweekly pay periods.
Where applicable, payment of the County’s portion of the insurance premiums described in this Section 15.2 shall count toward fulfillment of statutory requirements for payment of the County’s contributions toward health insurance under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and California Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL).
15.3. Seniority Rights and Salary Adjustments
Authorized absence without pay which exceeds twenty-eight (28) consecutive calendar days, for: (1) a leave of absence for personal reasons; (2) a leave of absence on account of illness or injury not compensated through Worker’s Compensation benefits; or (3) a leave of absence to fill an unexpired term in an elective office shall not be included in determining salary adjustment rights, or any seniority rights based on length of employment.
15.4. Job Incurred Disability Leave
A. Job Incurred Disability Leave with Pay
1. Definition: Disability leave with pay is an employee’s absence from duty with pay because of disability caused by illness or injury arising out of and in the course of employment which has been declared to be compensable under the Workers’ Compensation Law. Only permanent or probationary employees occupying permanent positions are eligible for disability leave with pay.
2. Payment: Payment of disability leave shall be at the base pay of the employee and shall be reduced by the amount of temporary disability indemnity received pursuant to Workers’ Compensation Law.
3. Application for and Approval of Job Incurred Disability Leave with Pay: In order to receive pay for disability leave an employee must submit a request on the prescribed form to the appointing authority describing the illness or accident and all information required for the department head to evaluate the request. The employee must attach to the request a statement from a physician certifying to the nature, extent, and probable period of illness or disability.
No job incurred disability leave with pay may be granted until after the State Compensation Insurance Fund or County’s Workers’ Compensation Adjustor has declared the illness or injury to be compensable under Worker’s Compensation Law and has accepted liability on behalf of the County, or the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board has ordered benefits to be paid.
4. Length of Job Incurred Disability Leave with Pay: Except for Safety members of the Retirement System, eligible employees shall be entitled to disability leave for the period of incapacity as determined by a physician, but not to exceed a maximum of ninety (90) calendar days for any one illness or inquiry. Members of this unit who elect safety retirement and thereby become safety members, as defined in the Government Code and in determinations made by the San Mateo County Board of Retirement, may be found eligible for disability leave up to a maximum of twenty-six (26) biweekly pay periods. Holidays falling within the period of disability shall extend the maximum days allowed by the number of such holidays.
B. Job Incurred Disability Leave Without Pay
1. Definition: Disability leave without pay is an employee’s absence from duty without County pay because of disability caused by illness or injury arising out of and in the course of employment which has been declared to be compensable under Workers’ Compensation Law. Only permanent or probationary employees occupying permanent positions are eligible for disability leave without pay. Such leave is taken after the disabled employee has used up allowable disability leave with pay, as well as accrued credits for sick leave. At the employee’s option, vacation and compensatory time off accruals may also be used.
2. Application for and Approval of Job Incurred Disability Leave Without Pay: In order to receive disability leave without pay an eligible employee must submit a request on the prescribed form to the appointing authority describing the illness or accident and all information required for the appointing authority to evaluate the request. The employee must attach a physician’s statement certifying to the nature, extent, and probable period of illness or disability.
3. Length and Amount of Job Incurred Disability Leave Without Pay: Job incurred disability leave without pay may not exceed twenty-six (26) biweekly pay periods for any one injury. The combined total of disability leave with pay and disability leave without pay for one accident or illness may not exceed thirty-two (32) biweekly pay periods. However, Safety members of the Retirement System may be allowed a maximum of fifty-two (52) biweekly pay periods for anyone (1) injury total disability leave. In the event an employee is disabled and is receiving Worker’s Compensation benefits this leave may be extended as long as such disability continues.
15.5. Leave of Absence Without Pay
A. Granting of Leaves of Absence Without Pay: An appointing authority may grant leaves of absence without pay for personal reasons up to a maximum of two (2) biweekly pay periods.
B. Leaves of Absence Without Pay for Non-Job Incurred Illness or Injury: Leaves of absence on account of illness or injury which are not job incurred may be granted for a maximum of twenty-six (26) full biweekly pay periods encompassing use of accrued paid leave and approved unpaid leave once accrued leave is exhausted, except as required by law. This includes disabilities caused or contributed to by pregnancy, miscarriage, abortion, childbirth, and recovery therefrom. All accrued sick leave credits must be used before going into an unpaid leave status. Such leaves must be substantiated by a physician’s statement.
C. Leaves of Absence Without Pay for Personal Reasons: Leaves of absence on account of personal reasons may be granted for a maximum period of thirteen (13) full biweekly pay periods encompassing use of accrued paid leave and approved unpaid leave once accrued leave is exhausted. Such leaves shall only be granted after all accrued vacation and holiday credits have been used; however, a worker may request in case of personal emergency, including an emergency relating to the non‑disability portion of maternity leave, that one week’s vacation be retained. The decision of the Human Resources Director shall be final.
D. Parental Leave: Employees/parents of either sex may be granted a leave of absence without pay for the purpose of fulfilling parenting responsibilities during the period of one year following the child’s birth, or one year following the filing of application for adoption and actual arrival of child in the home. Such leave shall be for maximum period of thirteen biweekly pay periods. Use of accrued vacation, sick, comp time or holiday credits shall not be a pre‑condition for the granting of such parental leave.
15.6. Military Leaves of Absence
The provisions of state and federal law shall govern military leave of County employees.
15.7. Absence Due to Required Attendance in Court
With the department head’s approval, an employee shall be permitted authorized absence from duty for appearance in Court because of jury service, in obedience to subpoena related to the employee’s San Mateo County employment, or as directed by the proper authority, in accordance with the following provisions:
A. Absence from duty will be with full pay to a maximum of eight (8) hours for each day the employee serves on the jury or testifies as a witness in a criminal case, other than as a defendant, including necessary travel time. As a condition of receiving such full pay, the employee must, within fifteen (15) days of receipt, remit to the County Treasurer through the department head all fees received except those specifically allowed for mileage and expenses.
B. Attendance in Court in connection with an employee’s usual official duties or in connection with a case in which the County of San Mateo is a party, together with travel time necessarily involved, shall not be considered absence from duty within the meaning of this Section.
C. Absence from duty will be without pay when the employee appears in private litigation to which the County of San Mateo is not a party.
D. Any fees allowed, except for reimbursement of expenses incurred, shall be remitted to the County Treasurer through the employee’s department head.
E. An employee required to appear in court in a matter unrelated to his or her County job duties or because of civil or administrative proceedings that he or she initiated does not receive compensation for time spent related to those proceedings. An employee may request to receive time off using vacation, compensatory, holiday or voluntary time off if accrued balances are available, or will be in an unpaid status, for time spent related to those proceedings. The time spent in these proceedings is not considered work time. This provision does not apply to grievance proceedings pursuant to this MOU, San Mateo County Civil Service Commission proceedings, EAP or Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center (PCRC) mediation proceedings, or administrative proceedings related to the Meyers Milias Brown Act or the MOU between the parties.
F. Prompt notification to one’s supervisor is required within one business day of receipt of a subpoena or summons to appear.
15.8. Absence Without Leave
A. Refusal of Leave or Failure to Return After Leave: Failure to report for duty after a leave of absence request has been disapproved, revoked, or canceled by the appointing authority, or at the expiration of a leave, shall be considered an absence without leave.
B. Absence Without Leave: Absence from duty without leave for any length of time without an explanation satisfactory to the appointing authority is cause for dismissal. Absence without leave for four (4) or more consecutive days without an explanation satisfactory to the appointing authority shall be deemed a tender of resignation. If within thirty (30) days after the first day of absence without leave a person who has been absent makes an explanation satisfactory to the Board of Supervisors, the Board may reinstate such person.
15.9. Educational Leave of Absence with Pay
Educational leave of absence with pay may be granted to employees under the conditions specified in this Section. In order to be granted educational leave of absence with pay an employee must submit on the prescribed form a request to the appointing authority containing all information required to evaluate the request.
The County may, after approval of an employee’s application, grant leave of absence with pay for a maximum of sixty-five (65) working days during any fifty-two (52) biweekly pay periods for the purpose of attending a formal training or educational course of study. Eligibility for such leaves will be limited to employees with at least thirteen (13) biweekly pay periods of continuous service and who are not extra help, or temporary. Such leaves will be granted only in cases where there is a reasonable expectation that the employee’s work performance or value to the County will be enhanced as a result of the course of study. Courses taken as part of a program of study for a college undergraduate or graduate degree will be evaluated individually for job-relatedness under the above-described criteria.
The employee must agree in writing to continue working for the County for at least the following minimum periods of time after expiration of the leave of absence:
Length of Leave of Absence Period of Obligated Employment
44 to 65 workdays 52 biweekly pay periods
22 to 43 workdays 26 biweekly pay periods
6 to 21 workdays 13 biweekly pay periods
15.10. Bereavement Leave
The County will provide up to twenty-four (24) hours paid bereavement leave upon the death of an employee’s parent, spouse, domestic partner, child (including through miscarriage or stillbirth), stepchild, sibling, sibling-in-law, mother-in-law, father-in-law, grandparent, grandparent-in-law or grandchild.
In addition, employees may utilize accrued sick leave pursuant to Section 14.2, subsection (4).