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Leave of Absence

To learn more about the types of leaves of absence, please refer to the Non-FMLA Medical and Personal Leave of Absence policy. Your benefits may be impacted while on a Leave of Absence — particularly if it is an unpaid leave. Review the policy for more details.


Health, Dental, Vision, Disability and Life Insurance Coverage

  • While you are on paid leave, your insurance premiums will continue to be deducted from your paycheck.
  • If you go on unpaid leave it is your responsibility to pay the premiums for your existing coverage through direct billing. Benefit Express manages direct billing administration for Vanderbilt. You will receive payment coupons directly from Benefit Express. Failure to receive payment coupons does not relieve you of your responsibility of making timely premium payments. Lack of payment may terminate your participation in the plan. If participation is terminated, you will have a gap in coverage if reinstated upon your return to paid leave status.

Spending Accounts

  • If you are on an unpaid leave and have a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), your payroll contributions to the medical FSA will continue through direct billing; however, your contributions to the dependent day care FSA will stop until you return to an active status. Upon returning to an active status, your remaining dependent day care FSA election amount will be divided by the remaining number of paychecks for the calendar year. Your account remains active during an unpaid leave of absence.
  • If you have the Health Reimbursement Account (HRA), it remains active during an unpaid leave of absence, though no additional accruals are made during the unpaid period.

Retirement Plan

  • You cannot continue to contribute to your retirement accounts during an unpaid leave. However, your existing retirement funds will remain invested as you directed.

Accrued Time Off

  • Accrued time off must be exhausted before an unpaid leave of absence can begin. However, if on unpaid leave due to short-term disability, you must only use enough accrued time to satisfy the applicable waiting period. Employees enrolled in only the base option of enhanced short-term disability are required to exhaust all grandfathered sick time before short-term disability starts paying. Time off accruals will stop during an unpaid leave of absence. Refer to the Non-FMLA Medical and Personal Leave of Absence policy or the short-term disability insurance webpage for more information.

Returning from Unpaid Leave

If you paid your portion of your benefits through direct billing, then your regular deductions will resume the month following the date you return from leave. You are still considered under direct billing the month you return from leave, and those premiums need to be paid to Benefit Express for that month’s coverage.

For instance, you return on August 5th, you pay the amount due for August coverage to Benefit Express by the deadline, and your regular deductions will resume in September.

If your coverage is terminated due to lack of payment while on leave, you will be defaulted into Aetna Plus at the Individual tier when you return from leave. You will have 30 days from the date you return to work to re-enroll in your benefits. You will have a lapse in coverage for the months in which you did not pay for coverage.

Contact Information

For questions regarding leave of absence and benefits, contact the Employee Service Center by emailing or by calling 615-343-7000.

For questions regarding direct billing, contact Benefit Express by emailing or by calling Customer Service at 1.877.837.5017.