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Index > Operations Policies > Unpaid Leave of Absence Policy

Unpaid Leave of Absence Policy


An employee may request an unpaid leave of absence, extending beyond permitted personal days. Such requests must be approved by the employee’s supervisor, the director of the department or division, and Human Resources. Each request should be in writing and include the reasons for the request and the intended date of return. Requests will be considered in view of length of employment, circumstances including the employee’s job performance, reason for the leave, and effect the absence will have on the department’s and RISD’s operations. Reasonable advance notice is important so that arrangements can be made to cover the duties of the employee during the leave. An unpaid leave of absence will not be approved for employees who are still in the Orientation and Review period.

Unpaid leaves of absence may be approved for reasonable periods of time, typically not to exceed six months, and are normally limited to no more than one per year.

Extensions of unpaid leaves of absence may be granted on a case-by-case basis for extenuating circumstances. Requests for extensions must be in writing and approved through the same process as above.


If a request for an unpaid leave of absence is approved, the following applies:

  1. The employee must exhaust all accrued vacation and personal time before beginning the unpaid leave period.
  2. During an unpaid absence, vacation and sick time do not accrue. The employee is not eligible for holiday pay for those holidays that fall during the unpaid leave.
  3. If an employee wants to maintain benefits, they will be responsible for paying the monthly rate premium for benefits such as optional life insurance, health, dental, and long-term disability, if applicable.
  4. RISD cannot guarantee the employee’s job will remain open. If RISD fills or eliminates the individual’s position, RISD will make reasonable efforts to place the individual in a comparable position for which the employee is qualified upon the expiration of the leave, if one is available. If the position or a similar position is not available, RISD will assist the employee in an unpaid, internal search for a suitable position for 30 days from the date the unpaid leave was to officially end. If the employee has not been placed by the end of this period, they will be terminated.
  5. If an employee engages in other employment during the unpaid leave without the consent of RISD, they may be subject to termination.
  6. If an employee fails to report for work at the beginning of the first regular day of employment after the unpaid leave, without the agreement of their supervisor, the individual may be subject to termination.

Revision history

This policy was created on: 10/17/2011

Next scheduled review will be on the following date or as needed: 10/17/2021


Issuing Office

Human Resources

Responsible Officer

Vice President for Human Resources

Individuals/offices required for review and changes

Director of Employment