Policies of Colorado State University

University Policy

University Seal
Policy Title: Catastrophic Circumstances Leave Category: Human Resources
Owner: Vice President for University Operations Policy ID#: 3-6004-032
Human Resources
Web: https://hr.colostate.edu/
Email: hr_service_center@mail.colostate.edu
Phone: (970) 491-6947
Original Effective Date: 5/23/2013
Supersedes Policy ID#: 3-6004-029 (in part)


Colorado State University values its employees and supports their health, wellness and welfare. In extraordinary circumstances, when an employee has suffered the occurrence of an unforeseen catastrophe, an employee who has exhausted all available leave benefits and cannot immediately return to work may be in dire need of additional leave in order to avoid extreme hardship, but the employee may not be eligible for time off under Family Medical Leave. The purpose of this policy is to provide a mechanism by which such extraordinary leave may be granted.


This policy applies to all Eligible Employees (as defined below). It does not apply to state classified employees, whose leave benefits are specified by the state department of personnel and administration.


Eligible Employee:  Academic Faculty, Administrative Professionals, Post-Doctoral Fellows, Veterinary Interns and Clinical Psychology Interns with an appointment of half-time (50%) or greater who are benefits eligible.  An employee is not an Eligible Employee during any period in which the employee is not in paid employment status.

Catastrophic Circumstances:  An extraordinary, disastrous event or situation that was not reasonably foreseeable, or that resulted from serious illness, and that caused the employee to be unable to work for a period of at least 2 weeks.

Unit Head:  The Department Head, Dean, Director, Vice President, or other administrator responsible for making determinations concerning an employee’s leave.

When Catastrophic Circumstances are found to exist, and an Eligible Employee has exhausted all available paid leave, a Unit Head may authorize up to two work weeks of paid or unpaid time off in the Unit Head’s discretion.  In the rare case that an employee who is eligible for short-term disability (STD) benefits does not have enough paid leave to cover the 10-day STD elimination (waiting) period, paid leave must be granted for the unpaid portion; all other cases are within the discretion of the Unit Head.  See the Academic Faculty and Administrative Professional Privileges and Benefits Summary for details on short-term disability coverage.

1.  Determination of Catastrophic Circumstances

The Catastrophic Circumstances in which leave may be granted under this policy are limited to those in which the Eligible Employee, or the employee’s immediate family member (as defined in the Family Medical Leave (FML) policy, Academic Faculty and Administrative Professional Manual, Appendix 3) who lives with the employee or for whom the employee is responsible to provide care, is so severely affected by the catastrophe that the employee cannot reasonably return to work for at least two (2) weeks.  Examples of eligible scenarios include:

a.  A natural disaster that substantially damages or destroys the employee’s primary residence or displaces them from their home;

b.  A severe injury or illness, as certified by a healthcare provider, that results in the inability of the employee to work.

2.        Exhaustion of Other Leave

Before a request for Catastrophic Circumstances Leave may be granted, the Eligible Employee’s Unit Head must determine that the employee has exhausted or is ineligible for all other paid leave benefits, including, but not limited to, sick leave, annual leave, and short- and long-term disability.

3.        Maximum Period of Leave

Leave granted under this policy cannot exceed two work weeks and must be taken contiguously, and runs concurrently with FML if applicable.  Leave is not prorated beyond the two weeks for employees who are half-time, but not full-time.  Leave may be granted only for so long as the Catastrophic Circumstances continue to exist.

4.        Effect on Other Leave

a.  Leave without pay (LWOP):  An employee who is granted Catastrophic Circumstances Leave and remains unable to return to work after such leave is exhausted may be eligible for Leave without Pay, as provided in the Human Resources Manual, Section 2 and the Academic Faculty and Administrative Professional Manual, Section F.3.13.

b.  Family Medical Leave (FML):  Leave granted under this policy must be designated as FML if the reason for the leave qualifies as FML and the employee is eligible under the FML policy.  Catastrophic Circumstances Leave must run contiguously with FML, when applicable.  Departments are responsible for reporting FML when it applies.

c.  Human Resources can assist unit administrators with Catastrophic Circumstances Leave due to an illness or injury that qualifies for the use of FML, and short- or long-term disability.


Approved by the Board of Governors as Academic Faculty and Administrative Professional Manual section F.3.17 on August 5, 2016