Skip to Content

Vanderbilt University Human Resources

Human Resources

Home > Policies > Sick Time

Sick Time

All Medical Center Employees effective January 2014 refer to the FlexPTO policy, please click here. Policy for the use of Grandfathered Sick time is below.

SUBJECT: Paid Sick Time Policy
EFFECTIVE DATE: January 2, 2014


The purpose of this policy is to protect employees from loss of income when illness or a medical condition prevents the employee from working.


Sick time is available in the following circumstances:

  • Employee is unable to work because of illness or injury
  • Employee has a scheduled medical or dental appointment
  • Under certain circumstances, to care for a family member (see "Using Sick Time for Family Members").

Regular and term employees on University Central payroll accrue one "day" of sick time during each month of paid status. Sick time is accrued based on the number of hours each employee is paid (up to 80) in a two-week pay period. In general, a "day" of sick time is defined as 1/5 of the regular weekly work schedule, whether the employee is full-time or part-time 1 .


Regular and term employees on University Central payroll begin to accrue sick time immediately upon employment. Employees are eligible to use sick time as soon as it is accrued. Accrued sick time is used for illness before going into an unpaid status. Paid sick time is not available for use after the maximum approved leave status has been utilized.


  1. Sick time will not accrue or be paid while an employee is being paid Short Term Disability. The employee's accrued sick time bank will remain during this period. 2
  2. An employee receiving benefits for workers' compensation will not be paid from both workers' compensation and accrued sick time for the same hours. 3
  3. The exception to the use of sick time and the maximum leave time available is when an employee has applied for Long Term Disability (LTD,) but the approval takes longer than six months. The employee who has accrued time available may continue to remain in a paid status until one of two things occurs:
    • approval/denial is given for the LTD benefit, or
    • sick time bank is exhausted.

Please contact the Benefits Office to ensure proper processing.


Requesting Sick Time

Employees should give as much notice as possible when requesting sick time off. Whenever possible, employees should schedule sick time off in advance, according to the department's procedures.

Calling out Sick

For unexpected medical absences (e.g. the flu), employees should follow the departmental call out procedure. Failure to call-out according to departmental procedures may result in the Performance Management process.

Departments are responsible for establishing a call-out process, communicating the procedure to all employees and monitoring sick time usage.

Using Sick Time

Sick time may be used to replace regularly scheduled work hours when an employee misses work time due to illness or a medical appointment. The use of sick time is only allowed to fulfill an employee's standard hours of work/FTE and may not be used for hours beyond the normal work schedule (i.e. scheduled overtime). If an employee is utilizing sick time for more than 3 consecutive days, it may be appropriate to initiate Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) 4 . All time sick time, flexPTO, vacation and personal leave accruals must be used before time is taken without pay.

Medical and Dental Appointments

Employees need to schedule doctors' appointments and provide appropriate advance notice to their supervisor. Sick time may be used for scheduled medical and dental appointments.

Pregnancy and Childbirth

As provided in Vanderbilt's medical leave policy, a birth mother can use sick time for any period of her pregnancy or post pregnancy recovery that is considered by her health care provider to be a period of medical disability. The father can use sick time when he is needed to care for his wife who is medically disabled due to pregnancy or post-pregnancy recovery.

For specific information please refer to the policies on Parental Leave, Family Medical Leave of Absence (FMLA) or Tennessee Medical Leave of Absence (TMLA) for pregnancy, childbirth or adoption, and the Medical and Personal Leave of Absence Policy.

Employee use of sick time for family members

Vanderbilt recognizes that sometimes a family member's illness or injury requires the employee's time and care. For that reason, Vanderbilt allows employees to use sick time for the care of an eligible family member. If the time off is for the care of a family member with a serious health condition, such absence may be covered under provisions of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

For the purpose of this policy, eligible family members are defined as: spouse, same-sex domestic partner, parent, grandparent, sibling, biological child, stepchild, adopted child, foster child and child(ren) of the employee and the children of the same sex domestic partner. Sick time may be used for those family members in the following circumstances:

  • the care of an eligible family member who is ill or injured
  • accompanying an eligible family member to a scheduled medical or dental procedure or checkup
  • attending to an eligible family member who is hospitalized

Employees may not use sick time for absences related to the care of family members not listed above; however, employees may request time off as vacation or personal leave.

Payment of sick time

Non-Exempt Employees: Employees will indicate hours not worked on their time record or designate the missed time to the appropriate accrued sick time. If no accruals are available, employees will use flexPTO, vacation, personal time or take leave without pay.

Exempt Employees: The normal workday is defined by the department. Employees are required to work a schedule consistent with the standard hours/full time equivalent (FTE) for their position. Time away from the normal workday is to be reported in whole day increments and tracked to the appropriate accrued sick time. For example, when an exempt employee misses less than the full regularly scheduled workday, no time will be reported as sick time.

  • Note: Approval to change the normal workday schedule must meet the needs of the institution and be approved in advance by the employee's supervisor 5 .

Medical Absences When No Sick Time is Available

For employees who are unable to work due to a medical condition and have no sick time available, and are not drawing the benefit of Vanderbilt sponsored short-term disability insurance, other accruals must be used in the following order: personal, vacation or flexPTO, unused holiday leave.

Managers may approve an advance of up to 40 hours of sick time for employees in the plan.

Supplementing Reduced Work Schedules With Sick Time

If the employee's health care provider recommends a reduced work schedule temporarily due to medical reasons (i.e., during late stage pregnancy), they will need to provide medical certification. If so, employees must supplement any missed work time with sick time as appropriate.

Payout of Sick Time

Unused sick time is not paid when employees leave the employment of Vanderbilt. The one exception is in the case of retirement. If employees retire from Vanderbilt after reaching the age of 62, they will be paid for up to 30 days of unused sick time. An employee is only eligible for a one time pay-out. The payout provision ends for all employees on June 30, 2014.

  • NOTE: If an employee is rehired under the terms of the Recruitment, Hiring and Onboarding policy, the unused sick time at the time employment ends from the prior position is not a benefit available upon reinstatement.

Grandfathered Sick Time

A. Medical Center employees hired before January 1, 2014 and University Central employees hired before July 1, 2014.

a. Any unused sick time accruals will be grandfathered and available to the employee to take time off in accordance with this policy, however; there will be no new accruals into their bank.

B. If an employee is rehired, any unused grandfathered sick time at the time employment ends from the prior position is not a benefit available upon reinstatement.

C. Grandfathered sick time will not be eligible for payout of sick time under the Sick Time Policy for retirements that occur after June 30, 2014.

1 In the record keeping system, exempt employee accruals and usage occur in hours; for example, 15 days equals 120 hours for a standard 5-day/40-hour workweek. Accrual rates are prorated based on a percentage of full-time for exempt employee.

2 Please refer to the "Medical, Non-Medical and Personal Leave of Absence" policy. The policy can be reviewed on the HR web page at the following address:

3 For missed work or reduced work schedules due to injuries which are compensable under the Tennessee Workers' Compensation Act, the supervisor must coordinate with Human Resources to determine how to process the leave. Supplementation of workers' compensation weekly benefits with leave accrued sick time (vacation, flexPTO, personal or holiday) is allowed; however, it is not required if the employee is receiving weekly workers' compensation benefits.

4 As referenced in the "Family Medical Leave of Absence" policy, time off under the FMLA may be taken as a continuous leave period, or for medical reasons, the leave may be taken on an intermittent basis or as a reduced work schedule, as long as the need to do so is appropriately documented. When FMLA leave is taken on an intermittent basis or reduced work schedule, both hourly paid and exempt employee may track usage by the hour. Each type of usage is counted towards the 12-week maximum available leave and is triggered at the beginning of the FMLA leave time.

5 Please refer to the "Alternative Work Arrangement" policy. The policy can be reviewed on the HR web page at the following address:


Approved by Traci K. Nordberg, Chief Human Resources Officer and Associate Vice Chancellor

Approved by Jerry Fife, Vice Chancellor for Administration

Approved by Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs

This policy is intended as a guideline to assist in the consistent application of University policies and programs for employees. The policy does not create a contract implied or expressed, with any Vanderbilt employee, who are employees at will. Vanderbilt reserves the right to modify this policy in whole or in part, at any time, at the discretion of the University.