What is “Buy Back?”

“Buy back” is a program that enables eligible University of Washington employees to recover sick and annual leave they have used for on-the-job injuries. When an eligible University of Washington employee is paid sick or annual leave from the University of Washington and also receives time loss payments from the Department of Labor & Industries for the same time period, the University of Washington Leave Buy Back Program reconciles the “double payment” and allows for reinstatement of a proportionate amount of leave to the injured worker’s leave record. Leave buy back and reinstatement is beneficial because it may enable an employee to extend their eligibility for health plan coverage.

Who is eligible?

Sick Leave

The University requires classified staff to buy back sick leave when the employee has been paid sick leave by the University and also receives time-loss payments from the Department of Labor & Industries for the same time period. Non-unionized classified staff and classified staff under the UW/UAW Academic Student employee labor contract are excepted. Buy back of sick leave is optional for professional staff. UW faculty are not eligible.

Annual Leave

Classified and professional staff may buy back annual leave when the employee has been paid annual leave by the University and also receives time-loss payment from the Department of Labor and Industries for the same time period. Buy back of annual leave is optional for classified and professional staff. UW faculty are not eligible.

How does the program work?

You use the time loss money the Department of Labor & Industries sends you to buy back the leave you used. When you receive your first check from Labor & Industries, Claim Services will send you and your payroll coordinator a Leave Buy Back Worksheet to complete.

If you receive additional checks for time-loss from the Department of Labor & Industries, and are required to buy back sick leave, a Leave Buy Back Worksheet will be sent to you. If you receive additional checks for time loss from the Department of Labor & Industries and would like to buy back sick or annual leave, but are not required to do so, please contact Claim Services and request a Leave Buy Back Worksheet. It will not be automatically sent.

How much can I “buy back?”

That depends on how much money you get from Labor & Industries. You buy back sick leave hours at your normal rate of hourly pay. (For example, if you are paid $5 per hour, your sick leave costs $5 per hour.) Labor & Industries generally pays about 65% of your gross wages, depending on your marital status and number of dependents. Expect to buy back about 65% of the sick leave you used.

Why can’t I “buy back” all of my sick leave?

Since Labor & Industries only pays you a percentage of your full wages, you can only buy back a percentage of your leave with that money.

How does my Union Contract affect my ability to buy back leave?

The ability to buy back sick leave is dependent upon your specific Union Contract. Please review your specific contract for additional information regarding eligibility: https://www.washington.edu/admin/hr/laborrel/contracts.html