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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.

Benefit 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.

Direct Billing Process

A direct billing coupon packet will be mailed to your home address by the direct billing administrator, WEX, once you are placed in an Unpaid Leave of Absence status. View a sample packet. While on direct bill, the premium billed will be on a monthly basis not on the same payroll cycle as when actively working.  For example if you are placed on unpaid leave May 15th, you will receive your direct billing coupon packet the first week of June with the monthly premium due for June. It is the responsibility of the employee to make timely payments, even if direct billing coupons are not received. Payments are due the first of each month.  If the direct billing administrator does not receive payment, it could cause interruption to your coverage. If the employee returns to work, premiums not paid through direct bill, will be automatically taken from your future checks until the balance has been paid in full. 

Spending Accounts

If you are on an unpaid leave and have a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), your payroll contributions will stop until you return to work. Upon return to work, the remaining FSA election will be recalculated based on remaining payrolls.

If you are on unpaid leave and have a Health Savings Account (HSA), your HSA contributions will stop until you return to an active pay status. When you return from leave, your contributions will be recalculated based on your year goal amount divided by the remaining pay periods. As you are still an employee of the University, you will receive the University HSA seed money (given in January and July). In order to receive the seed money you must be enrolled in the University’s CDHP, HSA account via Fidelity in good standing,  and be an employee on January 1 for the January seed and July 1 for the July seed.

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 on the first of the month following the date you return from leave. If you return from leave in the middle of a month, you will still need to pay your benefit premiums for the remainder of the current month’s coverage through direct billing with Benefit Express.

Example: You are on unpaid leave from June 21 – August 5.

  • You would be enrolled in direct billing through Benefit Express for July and August premiums.
  • You pay the amount due for July and August coverage to Benefit Express by the first of each month
  • Your normal premiums would resume through regular paycheck deduction beginning in September*.

*If there were any payroll deductions missed in June, they would also be deducted from your check once you return from leave.

Failure to pay your premiums via direct bill will result in the termination of your benefit coverage. 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. Any claims incurred during the time of non-payment will be denied and you will be responsible for the full cost of the expense.


You have 30 days from the date of the qualifying life event to add a child to your insurance coverage. For a newborn, that is 30 days from the date of birth. For an adopted child, it is 30 days from the date the adoption is finalized by the courts.

Documentation is not required to add your newborn to your insurance coverage. Documentation is required to add your adopted child to your insurance coverage. A final copy of the court documents signed by the judge in the case of adoption must be forward to the Benefits Administration office within the 30 day allowed timeframe.

Vanderbilt University reserves the right to audit eligibility and may require copies of any legal papers issued to establish a person as your spouse, partner or child. Only copies of actual court documents issued by the respective courts will be considered as acceptable documentation for dependents. Attempting to insure someone who is not eligible may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.

In order to add your newborn or adopted child to your insurance coverage, log into MyVuBenefits and follow the steps below:

  1. Go to MYVU Benefits:
  2. Log in with your VUnetID and ePassword
  3. On the left-hand side of the page, select Life Events
    Life event
  4. Read the explanation text on the Family Status Change introductory page. Select your life event: from the Life Events page, Choose “Having or Adopting a Baby/Legal Guardianship”
    having or adopting a baby
  5. Input the effective date of when the baby was born
    having a baby text box
  6. Add/Review your dependent’s information: You will be able to add new dependents or update dependent’s information. As you proceed through the enrollment, the coverage levels you are offered are based on the number and type of dependents you elect to cover. Please be sure to read the pages carefully as you may be required to certify your dependents by sending in certain documents before they become eligible for benefits.
  7. Please ensure to tag/add the box next to your dependent’s name at top part of the screen
    Step 1
  8. Go through your enrollments and make your selections
  9. Review your enrollment
  10. Confirm your enrollment: The last page/section in the enrollment is your confirmation statement which you can print or email. The site will automatically save a copy for your future reference. If you need to change any of the plan selections you have made, you can go back into the enrollment and make any additional changed through the end of your enrollment period.
  11. Save a copy of your enrollment

Reminder: you have 30 days from the life event to declare the life event

You are not required to enroll your child in benefits you do not need for them at this time. You may add dependents to these benefits during future open enrollment periods.

You may submit a benefit appeal request to have the addition of your child reviewed by the Appeals Committee after the 30-day deadline has passed. All committee decisions are final. Note that it may take up to 45 days to receive a decision.

No, you do not have to have a Social Security number before adding your child to the insurance coverage. We realize that there will be some lag time between adding a dependent child and obtaining a government issued identification number. Contact Human Resources for assistance in adding your new dependent without a Social Security number.

All dependents must have a Social Security number issued by the Social Security Administration (this information is needed for claims processing purposes only). Your dependent information can be updated by contacting Human Resources upon receipt of the Social Security number.

Provided you are enrolled in the disability plan offered by Vanderbilt and pre-existing conditions are not a factor, you may be eligible for partial income replacement while you are away from work. Contact UNUM, Vanderbilt's disability provider, at 1.800.836.6900 to begin your claim. Reference 224887 as the contract number and be prepared to provide the name, address and contact number for your medical care provider. It is your responsibility to initiate your disability claim.

You may continue your health benefits while on leave. Your portion of the premium can continue to be deducted from your paycheck as long as your remain in a paid status. In the event your leave extends into an unpaid status, you will automatically be enrolled in direct billing through Benefits Express, the authorized benefit administrator for Vanderbilt University. 

Contact Information

For questions regarding leave of absence and benefits, contact Human Resources

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