Take a Leave of Absence

Leave of absences

The University provides various types of leaves of absence for you to use should you need to leave work — from having a baby, to caring for a loved one, to serving in the military, to recovering from an injury or illness. In all cases, you will need to seek prior approval of the leave from your supervisor and submit required paperwork and documentation.


Leaves of absences for yourself are granted for the following reasons:

  • Personal medical condition (not work-related)
  • Pregnancy-related
  • Work-related illness or injury (Workers' Compensation)
  • Long-term disability
  • Personal reasons
  • Military duty

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A leave to care for others is granted for the following reasons:

  • Care for a family member with a serious health condition (including service member/veteran)
  • Tend to family obligations while a family member is called to active duty

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Pregnancy-related Leave is considered a Medical Leave.

For parental, childcare, infant care, elder care, or other personal family-related leave, see Maternity and Family Leave.  

You may continue your benefits if on an approved leave of absence, depending on whether it's under or over 6 months, or a long-term disability.

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If you have a need resulting from a permanent or temporary medical condition, the CUHR Leave Management Office can assist in understanding leaves policies, coordinating arrangement for your time away from the office, and ease you back into work after an extended absence.

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In response to the economic toll the COVID-19 pandemic has taken, Columbia University is offering certain employees the option to take a full or partial unpaid furlough.

The Administrative Policy Library is your resource for all official HR and Columbia policies related to time away from work -- from maternity leave to jury duty to bereavement pay.

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Information and policies on leave for faculty is available on the Columbia Faculty handbook.

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Information Notice

Important Notices

The Leaves of Absence section is intended only to provide information and guidance for processing leaves for Columbia University Officers, staff and union employees. The writers of the content have exercised their best efforts to ensure accuracy of the information, but accuracy is not guaranteed. If there are any discrepancies between the information on the website, verbal representations and the Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) or applicable University policies, the CBAs and applicable policies will always govern. The information is subject to change from time to time. The information contained on the website is intended to provide examples and does not replace the CBAs or University policies.

In addition to FMLA, other University policies and laws, if eligible, will run concurrently, including NYC Earned Safe/Sick Time.

FMLA does not supersede any University policy or collective bargaining agreement that provides greater family or medical leave rights than the rights established under FMLA. Conversely, FMLA provides that the rights established for employees under FMLA cannot be diminished by any policy or agreement.

The leave granted under FMLA generally is a lesser benefit than that available under various University policies and collective bargaining agreements. Because the University meets or exceeds FMLA requirements in many respects, this policy designates many existing types of leave as FMLA leave, so that the University leaves and the FMLA leave run concurrently.