2116 - Catastrophic Leave
- Employee Relations Officers
- Personnel Officers
- Personnel Transactions Supervisors
- Defines a catastrophic illness or injury, and natural disaster.
- Explains the purpose of Catastrophic Leave.
- Describes the purpose of the Catastrophic Leave program.
- Provides information on Catastrophic Leave for a natural disaster.
- Identifies who is eligible for the Catastrophic Leave program.
- Provides information on how to request Catastrophic Leave.
- Identifies who is responsible for administering the Catastrophic Leave program.
The Catastrophic Leave program allows employees who have exhausted their leave credits and must miss work due to a prolonged illness or injury (including that of an eligible family member), or due to a natural disaster, to request catastrophic leave.
A catastrophic illness or injury is defined as an illness or injury that is serious and expected to incapacitate the employee or a member of the employee's family or household, and which creates a financial hardship because the employee has exhausted all eligible leave credits.
A natural disaster is defined as an act of nature, such as a flood or an earthquake, that has had an effect on the employee's principle residence and the Governor has declared a state of emergency in the county where the employee resides.
Purpose of Catastrophic Leave
Catastrophic Leave permits salary and benefit continuation for employees who have exhausted all paid leave because of their own serious injury or illness, the need to care for a seriously injured or ill family member, or they reside in a county where the Governor has declared a state of emergency because of a natural disaster.
In such cases, a Catastrophic Leave bank will be established by the department for the employee to receive eligible leave credits. Donations may be accepted from employees in any state agency. Eligible leave credits include, but are not limited to, annual leave, vacation, compensating time off (CTO), holiday leave credits, and PARR lawsuit settlement leave credits (see Policy 1937). For rank-and-file employees, departments should review applicable Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) to determine which leave credits are eligible for transfer. Sick leave is not an eligible leave credit and shall not be transferred.
For excluded employees and most rank-and-file employees, donations must be a minimum of one hour and thereafter, in whole hour increments and credited to the employee as vacation or annual leave. Departments should review applicable MOU to determine the minimum donation requirements. Donations typically are irrevocable, but personnel offices may make exceptions if the donated time is not used.
For most rank-and-file employees, the total leave credits received by the employee shall normally not exceed three months; however, if approved by the appointing authority, the total leave credits received may be six months. The department should review the applicable MOU to determine limitation. Excluded employees’ use of donated leave credits may not exceed a maximum of 12 continuous months for any one catastrophic illness. The donated hours can only be used after the affected employee’s leave credits have been exhausted. Additionally, excluded and rank-and-file employees who receive time through this program shall use any leave credits he/she continues to accrue on a monthly basis prior to using time donated through the program.
Catastrophic Leave for a Natural Disaster
Excluded Employees: California Code of Regulations section 599.925.1 permits the transfer of specified leave credits as follows:
“At the discretion of the appointing power, non-represented employees as defined in section 599.619 of these regulations will be permitted to transfer eligible leave credits to an employee when a natural disaster occurs.
(a) The following conditions shall apply:
(1) Catastrophic leave for a natural disaster shall be leave for an employee who faces financial hardship because the employee has exhausted all of his/her eligible leave and is unable to work due to the effect of the natural disaster on the employee's principal residence.
(2) The employee resides in one of the counties where a state of emergency exists as declared by the Governor.
(3) Eligible leave credits include annual leave, vacation, CTO and/or holiday leave credits. They do not include sick leave.
(b) Eligible leave credits may be donated for catastrophic leave for a natural disaster:
(1) upon the request of an employee;
(2) upon determination by the agency director or designee that the employee in the agency is unable to work due to the effects of the natural disaster on the employee's principal residence; and
(3) the employee has exhausted all eligible leave credits.
(c) If the transfer of eligible leave credits is approved by the agency's director or designee, any non-represented employee in that agency may, upon written notice to the personnel office, donate eligible leave credits at a minimum of one hour. Donations thereafter must be in whole hour increments. Donations will be reflected as an hour-for-hour deduction from the leave balance of the donating employee. When transferring eligible leave credits, the agency should assure that only credits that may be needed are transferred. A non-represented employee may donate eligible leave credits to a represented employee. A non-represented employee who is designated managerial as defined in Government Code section 3513(e) or supervisory as defined in Government Code section 3513(g) may not receive donated eligible leave credits from a represented employee except in cases of extreme hardship or other compelling circumstances as approved by the Department. Transfer of eligible leave credits may be interagency in accordance with the policies of the receiving agency.
(d) In order to receive donated leave credits, a non-represented employee must provide appropriate verification as determined by the agency. A non-represented employee eligible for this program will have any time that is donated credited to his/her account in one hour increments. Donated credits will be reflected as an hour-for-hour addition to the vacation or annual leave balance of the receiving employee. Use of donated credits may not exceed three (3) continuous months for any one occurrence; however, if approved by the appointing authority, use of donated credits may be for six (6) continuous months.
The total amount of leave credits donated may not exceed an amount sufficient to insure the continuance of regular compensation. All such transfers are irrevocable. A non-represented employee who receives time through this program shall use any leave credits he/she continues to accrue on a monthly basis prior to receiving time from this program.”
Rank-and-File Employees: Most MOUs contain the following language:
“Upon request of an employee and upon approval of a department director or designee, leave credits (CTO, vacation and/or holiday) may be transferred from one or more employees to another employee, in accordance with departmental policies, under the following conditions:
- Sick leave credits cannot be transferred.
- When the receiving employee faces financial hardship due to the effect of a natural disaster on the employee's principal residence.
- The receiving employee has exhausted all vacation, annual leave, or CTO credits and resides in one of the counties where a State of Emergency exists as declared by the Governor.
- The donations must be in whole hour increments and credited as vacation or annual leave.
- Transfer of annual leave, vacation, CTO and holiday credits shall be allowed to cross departmental lines in accordance with the policies of the receiving department.
- The total leave credits received by the employee shall normally not exceed three (3) months; however, if approved by the appointing authority, the total leave credits received may be six (6) months.
- Donations shall be made on a form to be developed by the State, signed by the donating employee, and verified by the donating department. These donations are irrevocable.
This section is not subject to the grievance and arbitration article of this contract.”
Departments should review the applicable MOU to determine Catastrophic Leave benefits for rank-and-file employees in the event of a natural disaster.
Employees must earn leave credits to be eligible for Catastrophic Leave. There is no minimum state service requirement for eligibility.
Responsibility for Administering the Program
Each department is responsible for administering the Catastrophic Leave benefit.
Requesting Catastrophic Leave
The prospective recipient usually submits a request to his/her department head (or designee), along with appropriate verification of the injury or illness (or occurrence, in the case of a natural disaster) for the requested leave. In cases where the potential recipient is unable to initiate the process, a family member or the department head (or designee) may act on the employee’s behalf. The donated leave may be used upon approval by a department head or designee.
- Bargaining Contracts - MOUs
- California Code of Regulations, title 2, section 599.913
- California Code of Regulations, title 2, section 599.925
- California Code of Regulations, title 2, section 599.925.1
- Government Code section 19991.13
- Government Code section 19991.14
- PML 1988-096: PML 1988-096 - 11/7/1988 - Catastrophic Leave Program - Nonrepresented Employees
- PML 2005-060: PML 2005-060 - 12/28/2005 - Catastrophic Leave - Excluded Employees
- PML 2015-028: PML 2015-028 - 10/5/2015 - Catastrophic Leave – Natural Disaster
- PML 2015-029: PML 2015-029 - 10/8/2015 - Catastrophic Leave–Natural Disaster-Excluded Employees
Personnel Services Branch
Personnel Program Consultant, Personnel Services Branch
Chief, Personnel Management Division