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Leaves and Absences

The district offers employees paid and unpaid leaves of absence in times of personal need. Employees who expect to be absent for an extended period of more than three days should call Kathryn James in HR for information about applicable leave benefits, payment of insurance premiums, and requirements for communicating with the district.


Earned comp time must be used before any available paid state and local leave. Available paid state and local leave will be used in the following order:

  • Non-Contract days for 226 day contracted employees. 

  • Local leave earned during or after the 2021-2022 school year. 

  • Local Leave earned prior to the 2021-2022 school year.

  • State sick leave accumulated before the 1995-96 school year.

  • State Personal Leave.

Employees must follow district and department or campus procedures to report or request any leave of absence and complete the appropriate form or certification. Any unapproved absences or absences beyond accumulated or available paid leave shall result in deduction from the employee’s pay.


Immediate Family for purposes of leave other than family and medical leave, immediate family is defined as the following:

  • Spouse

  • Son or daughter, including a biological, adopted, or foster child, a son- or daughter-in-law, a stepchild, a legal ward, or a child for whom the employee stands in loco parentis.

  • Parent, stepparent, parent-in-law, or other individual who stands in loco parentis to the employee.

  • Sibling, stepsibling, and sibling-in-law

  • Grandparent and grandchild

  • Any person residing in the employee’s household at the time of illness or death

For purposes of family and medical leave, the definition of family is limited to spouse, parent, son or daughter, and next of kin. The definition of these are found in Policy DECA (LEGAL).

  • Any employee, who is absent more than 3 days because of a personal or family illness, must submit a medical certification from a qualified health care provider confirming the specific dates of the illness, the reason for the illness, and—in the case of personal illness—the employee’s fitness to return to work. The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) prohibits covered employers from requesting or requiring genetic information of an individual or family member of the individual, except as specifically allowed by this law. To comply with this law, we ask that employees and health care providers do not provide any genetic information in any medical certification. ‘Genetic information,’ as defined by GINA, includes an individual’s family medical history, the results of an individual’s or family member’s genetic tests, the fact that an individual or an individual’s family member sought or received genetic services, and genetic information of a fetus carried by an individual or an individual’s family member, or an embryo lawfully held by an individual or family member receiving assistive reproductive services.
  • Employees, on an approved leave of absence other than family and medical leave, may continue their insurance benefits at their own expense. Health insurance benefits for employees on paid leave and leave designated under the Family and Medical Leave Act will be paid by the district as they were prior to the leave. Otherwise, the district does not pay any portion of insurance premiums for employees who are on unpaid leave.

    Under TRS-Active Care rules, an employee is no longer eligible for insurance through the district after six months of unpaid leave other than FML. If an employee’s unpaid leave extends for more than six months, the district will provide the employee with notice of COBRA rights.

  • State law entitles all employees to five days of paid personal leave per year. Personal leave is available for use at the beginning of the year. A day of personal leave is equivalent to the number of hours per day in an employee’s usual assignment, whether full-time or part-time. State personal leave accumulates without limit, is transferable to other Texas school districts, and generally transfers to education service centers. Personal leave may be used for two general purposes: non-discretionary and discretionary.

    • Non-discretionary. Leave taken for personal or family illness, family emergency, a death in the family, or active military service is considered non-discretionary leave. Reasons for this type of leave allow very little, if any, advance planning. Non-discretionary may be used in the same manner as state sick leave.

    • Discretionary. Leave taken at an employee’s discretion that can be scheduled in advance is considered discretionary leave. An employee wishing to take discretionary personal leave must submit a request to his or her principal or supervisor three days in advance of the anticipated absence. The effect of the employee’s absence on the educational program or department operations, as well as the availability of substitutes, will be considered by the principal or supervisor.
  • If an employee separates from employment with the district before his or her last duty day of the year, or begins employment after the first duty day, state personal leave will be prorated based on the actual time employed. When an employee separates from employment before the last duty day of the school year, the employee’s final paycheck will be reduced by the amount of state personal leave the employee used beyond his or her pro rata entitlement for the school year.
  • State sick leave accumulated before 1995 is available for use and may be transferred to other school districts in Texas. State sick leave may be used for the following reasons only:
    • Employee illness

    • Illness in the employee’s immediate family

    • Family emergency (i.e., natural disasters or life-threatening situations)

    • Death in the immediate family

    • Active military service
  • Each employee shall earn additional paid local leave days per school year in accordance with the following schedule:

    • Part-time positions – 2.5 days

    • Ten-month positions – 5.0 days

    • Eleven-month positions – 5.5 days

    • Twelve-month positions – 6.0 days


    Local leave earned after the 2020-2021 school year shall not accumulate from year to year and newly earned local leave will be used before local leave earned before the 21-22 school year.  Any unused local leave earned beginning the 2021-2022 school year shall be paid to each professional/certified employee at a rate of $200 per day and each paraprofessional/Auxiliary employee at a rate of $100 per day at the end of the fiscal year. Local leave shall be used according to the terms and conditions of state personal leave.

  • Employees shall be granted up to three bereavement days per school year (September 1 thru August 31) to be used for a death in the immediate family. Bereavement days shall be approved by the superintendent or designee prior to the employee’s leave.
  • After all available state and local leave days have been exhausted, an employee shall be granted in a school year a maximum of 30 leave days of extended sick leave to be used for the employee’s personal illness or injury, including pregnancy-related illness or in- jury, or for absences related to the illness or injury of a member of the employee’s immediate family. A written request for extended sick leave must be accompanied by medical certification of the illness or injury. For all employees, an amount equal to one-half of the individual employee’s daily rate of pay shall be deducted for each day of ex- tended sick leave taken, whether or not a substitute is employed.
  • If an employee of SISD has a confirmed positive COVID lab test, the employee will be granted five additional leave days (COVID Leave). These days can be used retroactively beginning the first day of the employees contract term. The positive lab test result must be provided to The SISD Human Resources Department at the following email: kathryn.james@sweetwaterisd.net. Employees will have 5 days from the time a Lab Confirmed positive COVID test results are received to send the results to Kathryn James in order to receive the 5 days of COVID Leave. 
  • Maintenance and Custodial employees receive two weeks paid vacation per school year (September 1 thru August 31).
  • The following text is from the federal notice, Employee Rights and Responsibilities Under the Family and Medical Leave Act. Specific information that the district has adopted to implement the FMLA follows this general notice.

    • Leave Entitlements. Eligible employees who work for a covered employer can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in a 12-month period for the following reasons:

    • The birth of a child or placement of a child for adoption or foster care;

    • To bond with a child (leave must be taken within 1 year of the child’s birth or placement);

    • To care for the employee’s spouse, child, or parent who has a qualifying serious health condition;

    • For the employee’s own qualifying serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the employee’s job;

    • For qualifying exigencies related to the foreign deployment of a military member who is the employee’s spouse, child, or parent.

    • An eligible employee who is a covered service member’s spouse, child, parent, or next of kin may also take up to 26 weeks of FMLA leave in a single 12-month period to care for the service member with a serious injury or illness. An employee does not need to use leave in one block. When it is medically necessary or otherwise permitted, employees may take leave intermittently or on a reduced schedule. Employees may choose, or an employer may require, use of accrued paid leave while taking FMLA leave. If an employee substitutes accrued paid leave for FMLA leave, the employee must comply with the employer’s normal paid leave policies.

    • Benefits and Protections. While employees are on FMLA leave, employers must continue health insurance coverage as if the employees were not on leave. Upon return from FMLA leave, most employees must be restored to the same job or one nearly identical to it with equivalent pay, benefits, and other employment terms and conditions. An employer may not interfere with an individual’s FMLA rights or retaliate against someone for using or trying to use FMLA leave, opposing any practice made unlawful by the FMLA, or being involved in any proceeding under or related to the FMLA.

    • Eligibility Requirements. An employee who works for a covered employer must meet three criteria in order to be eligible for FMLA leave. The employee must:

    • Have worked for the employer for at least 12 months;

    • Have at least 1,250 hours of service in the 12 months before taking leave*; and

    • Work at a location where the employer has at least 50 employees within 75 miles of the employee’s worksite.

    *Special hours of service eligibility requirements apply to airline flight crew employees.

    • Requesting Leave. Generally, employees must give 30-days’ advance notice of the need for FMLA leave. If it is not possible to give 30-days’ notice, an employee must notify the employer as soon as possible and, generally, follow the employer’s usual procedures. Employees do not have to share a medical diagnosis but must provide enough information to the employer so it can determine if the leave qualifies for FMLA protection. Sufficient information could include informing an employer that the employee is or will be unable to perform his or her job functions, that a family member cannot perform daily activities, or that hospitalization or continuing medical treatment is necessary. Employees must inform the employer if the need for leave is for a reason for which FMLA leave was previously taken or certified. Employers can require a certification or periodic recertification supporting the need for leave. If the employer determines that the certification is incomplete, it must provide a written notice indicating what additional information is required.

    • Employer Responsibilities. Once an employer becomes aware that an employee’s need for leave is for a reason that may qualify under the FMLA, the employer must notify the employee if he or she is eligible for FMLA leave and, if eligible, must also provide a notice of rights and responsibilities under the FMLA. If the employee is not eligible, the employer must provide a reason for ineligibility. Employers must notify its employees if leave will be designated as FMLA leave, and if so, how much leave will be designated as FMLA leave.

    • Enforcement. Employees may file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division, or may bring a private lawsuit against an employer. The FMLA does not affect any federal or state law prohibiting discrimination or supersede any state or local law or collective bargaining agreement that provides greater family or medical leave rights.

     

    For additional information:

     1-866-4US-WAGE (1-866-487-9243) TTY: 1-877-889-5627

    www.wagehour.dol.gov


  • Eligible employees can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in the 12-month period from July 1 through June 30.

    • Use of Paid Leave. FML runs concurrently with accrued sick and personal leave, temporary disability leave, compensatory time, assault leave, and absences due to a work-related illness or injury. The district will designate the leave as FML, if applicable, and notify the employee that accumulated leave will run concurrently.

    • Combined Leave for Spouses. Spouses who are employed by the district are limited to a combined total of 12 weeks of FML to care for a parent with a serious health condition; or for the birth, adoption, or foster placement of a child. Military caregiver leave for spouses is limited to a combined total of 26 weeks.

    • Intermittent Leave. When medically necessary or in the case of a qualifying emergency, an employee may take leave intermittently or on a reduced schedule. The district does not permit the use of intermittent or reduced-schedule leave for the care of a newborn child or for adoption or placement of a child with the employee.

    • Fitness for Duty. An employee that takes FML due to the employee’s own serious health condition shall provide, before resuming work, a fitness-for-duty certification from the health care provider. When leave is taken for the employee’s own serious health condition, the certification must address the employee’s ability to perform essential job functions. The district shall provide a list of essential job functions (e.g., job description) to the employee with the FML designation notice to share with the health care provider. Fitness for duty is not required when an employee returns to work following leave to care for a family member with a serious health condition; to care for a child following birth, adoption, or foster care placement; or for qualifying exigency leave.

    • Reinstatement. An employee returning to work at the end of FML will be returned to the same position held when the leave began or to an equivalent position with equivalent employment benefits, pay, and other terms and conditions of employment. In certain cases, instructional employees desiring to return to work at or near the conclusion of a semester may be required to continue on family and medical leave until the end of the semester. The additional time off is not counted against the employee’s FML entitlement, and the district will maintain the employees group health insurance and reinstate the employee at the end of the leave according to the procedures outlined in policy (see DECA (LEGAL)).

    • Failure to Return. If, at the expiration of FML, the employee is able to return to work but chooses not to do so, the district may require the employee to reimburse the district’s share of insurance premiums paid during any portion of FML when the employee was on unpaid leave. If the employee fails to return to work for a reason beyond the employee’s control, such as a continuing personal or family serious health condition or a spouse being unexpectedly transferred more than 75 miles from the district, the district may not require the employee to reimburse the district’s share of premiums paid.

    • District Contact. Employees that require FML or have questions should contact Kathryn James in the HR department for details on eligibility, requirements, and limitations.
  • Any full-time employee whose position requires certification from the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) is eligible for temporary disability leave. The purpose of temporary disability leave is to provide job protection to full-time educators who cannot work for an extended period of time because of a mental or physical disability of a temporary nature. Temporary disability leave must be taken as a continuous block of time. It may not be taken intermittently or on a reduced schedule. Pregnancy and conditions related to pregnancy are treated the same as any other temporary disability. Employees must request approval for temporary disability leave. An employee’s notification of need for extended absence due to the employee’s own medical condition shall be accepted as a request for temporary disability leave. The request must be accompanied by a physician’s statement confirming the employee’s inability to work and estimating a probable date of return. If disability leave is approved, the length of leave is no longer than 180 calendar days. If an employee is placed on temporary disability leave involuntarily, he or she has the right to request a hearing before the board of trustees. The employee may protest the action and present additional evidence of fitness to work. When an employee is ready to return to work, the business office should be notified at least 30 days in advance. The return-to-work notice must be accompanied by a physician’s statement confirming that the employee is able to resume regular duties. Certified employees returning from leave will be reinstated to the school to which they were previously assigned if an appropriate position is available. If an appropriate position is not available, the employee may be assigned to another campus, subject to the approval of the campus principal. If a position is not available before the end of the school year, the employee will be reinstated to a position at the original campus at the beginning of the following school year.
  • An employee absent from duty because of a job-related illness or injury may be eligible for workers’ compensation weekly income benefits if the absence exceeds seven calendar days.An employee receiving workers’ compensation wage benefits for a job-related illness or injury may choose to use accumulated sick leave or any other paid leave benefits. An employee choosing to use paid leave will not receive workers’ compensation weekly income benefits until all paid leave is exhausted or to the extent that paid leave does not equal the pre-illness or -injury wage. If the use of paid leave is not elected, then the employee will only receive workers’ compensation wage benefits for any absence resulting from a work-related illness or injury, which may not equal his or her pre-illness or -injury wage.

    Sweetwater ISD uses the Rural Health Clinic located at 201 E Arizona Ave, Sweetwater, TX 79556 for all worker's compensation matters.

  • Assault leave provides extended job income and benefits protection to an employee who is injured as the result of a physical assault suffered during the performance of his or her job. An incident involving an assault is a work-related injury and should be immediately reported to the HR Department. An injury is treated as an assault if the person causing the injury could be prosecuted for assault or could not be prosecuted only because that person’s age or mental capacity renders the person nonresponsible for purposes of criminal liability. An employee who is physically assaulted at work may take all the leave time medically necessary (up to two years) to recover from the physical injuries he or she sustained. At the request of an employee, the district will immediately assign the employee to assault leave. Days of leave granted under the assault leave provision will not be deducted from accrued personal leave and must be coordinated with workers’ compensation benefits. Upon investigation the district may change the assault leave status and charge leave used against the employee’s accrued paid leave. The employee’s pay will be deducted if accrued paid leave is not available.
  • The district provides paid leave to employees who are summoned to jury duty including service on a grand jury. The district will not discharge, threaten to discharge, intimidate, or coerce any regular employee because of juror or grand juror service or for the employee’s attendance or scheduled attendance in connection with the service in any court in the United States. Employees who report to the court for jury duty may keep any compensation the court provides. An employee should report a summons for jury duty to his or her supervisor as soon as it is received and may be required to provide the district a copy of the summons to document the need for leave.  An employee may be required to report back to work as soon as they are released from jury duty. The supervisor may consider the travel time required and the nature of the individual’s position when determining the need to report to work. A copy of the release from jury duty or documentation of time spent at the court may be required.
  • Employees will be paid while on leave to comply with a valid subpoena to appear in a civil, criminal, legislative, or administrative proceeding and will not be required to use personal leave. Employees may be required to submit documentation of their need for leave for court appearances.
  • An employee who is a parent, guardian of a child, or a court-appointed guardian ad litem of a child who is required to miss work to attend a truancy court hearing may use personal leave or compensatory time for the absence. Employees who do not have paid leave available will be docked for any absence required because of the court appearance.
  • The district will reasonably accommodate an employee’s request for absence for a religious holiday or observance. Accommodations such as changes to work schedules or approving a day of absence will be made unless they pose an undue hardship to the district. The employee may use any accumulated personal leave for this purpose. Employees who have exhausted applicable paid leave may be granted an unpaid day of absence.
  • Paid Leave for Military Service. Any employee who is a member of the Texas National Guard, Texas State Guard, reserve component of the United States Armed Forces, or a member of a state or federally authorized Urban Search and Rescue Team is entitled to 15 days of paid leave per fiscal year when engaged in authorized training or duty orders by proper authority. An additional seven days of leave per fiscal year are available if called to state active duty in response to a disaster. In addition, an employee is entitled to use available state and local personal or sick leave during a time of active military service. Reemployment after Military Leave. Employees who leave the district to enter into the United States uniformed services or who are ordered to active duty as a member of the military force of any state (e.g., National or State Guard) may return to employment if they are honorably discharged. Employees who wish to return to the district will be reemployed provided they can be qualified to perform the required duties. Employees returning to work following military leave should contact the HR Department In most cases, the length of federal military service cannot exceed five years.

    Continuation of Health Insurance. Employees who perform service in the uniformed services may elect to continue their health plan coverage at their own cost for a period not to exceed 24 months. Employees should contact Kathryn James in HR for details on eligibility, requirements, and limitations.


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