Chapter 9: Leave Benefits

 

LEAVE BENEFITS AT A GLANCE

Below is a summary of leave benefits available during VISTA service. Review the chart and information below for additional requirements related to each leave type.

Leave type
Total Workdays
Conditions

National holiday

Only those followed by sponsor and/or subsite staff

 

Personal

10 service days in a full year of service

Generally, leave in first 3 months or last month is limited to emergencies and family matters.

If you reenroll you are entitled to any unused personal leave earned in the prior term of service.

Must be taken in accordance with sponsor and/or subsite policies.

Personal in an extension of service

1 service day per 30 additional days of service

You are entitled to any unused personal leave earned in the prior term or service.

Medical

10 service days in a full year of service

If you reenroll you are entitled to any unused medical leave earned in the prior term of service.

Must be taken in accordance with sponsor and/or subsite policies.

Medical in an extension of service

1 service day per 30 additional days of service

You are entitled to any unused medical leave earned in the prior term or service.

Extended Medical Leave Benefits

Must use personal and medical first

5 service days in a full year of service

The CNCS State Program Director may approve an additional 5 workdays for a total of 15 medical service days in a full year of service, in cases that require extended recuperation. These extended medical leave benefits are not to be used as parental leave (covered below).

Parental Leave (birth/adoption)Must exhaust personal and medical leave firstThe CNCS State Program Director may approve an additional 10 workdays of leave, for a total of 30 workdays, if required.

Emergency

5 service days

Sponsor may allow if a natural disaster requires leaving the site or an immediate family member becomes critically ill or dies. Sponsor must notify the CNCS State Program Director.

Jury dutyAs necessary 

Military reserve

As required by the military

 

 

 

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NATIONAL HOLIDAYS

Thumbnail for [node:title][user:name][comment:title] AmeriCorps VISTA members enjoy the national holidays that are recognized by their sponsoring organization or sub-site, and are given as time off to the rest of the organization's personnel. Members do not get excused leave for federal holidays that are not recognized by their sponsoring organization and/or sub-site. For example, if your organization does not give its staff a holiday for Veterans Day, you are also expected to serve unless you request and receive approval for one day of personal leave. Additionally, if you want the day off for a religious observance, you should request a day of personal leave. Please contact your sponsoring organization to determine recognized holidays.
 
If your sponsoring organization provides its staff additional "floating holidays," "spring breaks," "summer recesses," etc., you are expected to continue to serve on your assignment unless authorized to take the time off as part of your personal leave. Your work plan should spell out the assignments expected of you during these periods. If it does not, consult with your supervisor. In such cases, an alternative service site for a limited duration may be considered if approved in advance by the VISTA supervisor and CNCS State Program Director.
 

 

PERSONAL LEAVE

You are entitled to 10 service days of personal leave during each full year of service. A service day is equivalent to the number of hours your sponsoring organization considers a typical full day of service. If you reenroll, you are entitled to any unused personal leave earned in your prior term of service. Members who extend their period of service earn one day of personal leave for every 30 days of the extension.
 
You must request and receive approval in advance from the sponsoring organization/supervisor for all personal leave, specifying the dates of leave requested.
 
During personal leave, all regular member allowances are continued. CNCS does not pay travel expenses for personal leave.
 
 

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MEDICAL LEAVE

AmeriCorps VISTA members are entitled to 10 workdays of medical leave during each full year of service. If you reenroll, you are entitled to any unused medical leave earned in your prior term of service. Members who extend their period of service earn one day of medical leave for every 30 days of the extension. A workday is equivalent to the number of hours your sponsoring organization considers a typical full day of work. Partial days of medical leave also may be granted to the member. All living allowances continue during medical leave periods.
 
You are required to request prior approval for medical leave, except for extenuating circumstances when you are physically unable to request prior approval, from the sponsoring organization or supervisor. You should also specify the hours or dates of leave requested.
 
The AmeriCorps VISTA sponsoring organization or supervisor must notify the CNCS State Program Director immediately if it appears that you will not be able to resume project duties within the maximum medical leave period of 10 service days. The CNCS State Program Director may approve an extension of your medical leave for up to another five (5) service days in cases of extended recuperation and in which you are likely to return to the project within the approved leave period, or in the event of some delay in obtaining a prognosis of your medical condition within the approved leave period.
 
 

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PARENTAL LEAVE

AmeriCorps VISTA members are entitled to use a combination of medical and personal leave (20 workdays) for parental leave. The CNCS State Program Director may approve up to an additional 10 service days for parental leave, for a total of up to 30 service days, if required.
 
 

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EMERGENCY LEAVE

The sponsoring organization may grant you up to five service days of emergency leave. During emergency leave, all allowances continue. Emergency leave is granted in two types of exigent situations. First, it may be granted if you serve in an area where a natural disaster occurs and requires you to leave the area temporarily. Second, emergency leave may be granted if an immediate family member (spouse, domestic partner, parent, sibling, child, grandparent, or guardian) becomes critically ill or dies. Additional time away from the project requires the approval of the CNCS State Program Director. Emergency leave does not count against your personal leave time.
 
Thumbnail for [node:title][user:name][comment:title] If circumstances require you to take emergency leave, you should notify the sponsoring organization or supervisor at once and, if requested, provide the sponsoring organization or supervisor with some evidence of the emergency. If the sponsoring organization determines that an emergency exists, the sponsoring organization will inform the CNCS State Office.
 
If travel is required, AmeriCorps VISTA will pay for the fastest regularly scheduled means of transportation to and from the site of the emergency or to your home of record, provided the destination is in the United States or a U.S. territory. In exceptional circumstances, members may have to purchase their own tickets, which will be reimbursed at the lowest commercial bus or train fare available. In circumstances where air travel is the only option, tickets may be reimbursed at the lowest commercial air fare available. You will be reimbursed for actual travel expenses (e.g., tolls, parking), but you will receive no additional allowances for your travel.
 
In the event that CNCS cannot pay for or provide a prepaid ticket in advance of the approved emergency leave, the sponsoring organization should furnish the needed travel assistance. Such advances, however, should be authorized by the CNCS State Office.
 
 

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JURY DUTY

AmeriCorps VISTA members may be summoned for jury duty. Sponsoring organizations shall give members the necessary time away from project duties to comply with a jury duty summons or serve on a jury. You should provide a copy of the summons to your supervisor, and keep your supervisor apprised of your status while you need to be offsite to attend to your jury duty obligation. Allowances will be paid during the period of jury duty. Your time on jury duty is not counted against your personal leave, term of service, or education award.
 
If you are subpoenaed (for non-project-related purposes), however, you are required to use personal leave.
 
 

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MILITARY RESERVE LEAVE

If you enter AmeriCorps VISTA service before completing a military reserve obligation, you must change the location of your reserve unit if necessary. AmeriCorps VISTA members should try to minimize the disruption in AmeriCorps VISTA service as a result of discharging responsibilities related to their reservist duties. If you are allowed to choose when to fulfill your annual two weeks of active duty requirement, you should choose a period that does not disrupt your AmeriCorps VISTA service.
 
Thumbnail for [node:title][user:name][comment:title] A member is granted military reserve leave to attend the monthly reserve training sessions and the two weeks of active duty training. Such leave does not count against a member's personal leave, term of service, end-of-service stipend, or education award. You should notify the sponsoring organization/supervisor before taking military reserve leave and upon returning from such leave. You may not receive time off for active duty or other reserve-related service beyond the two weeks and the monthly training activities usually required for reserve status. Any other reserve-related service does not apply to your AmeriCorps VISTA service time for purposes of the education award. The sponsoring organization/supervisor notifies the CNCS State Office of the exact dates of your military reserve leave.
 
For military service-responsibilities that are expected to last more than 30 continuous days, the member is considered for placement in Deferred Term status. 
 
 

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FAMILY MEDICAL LEAVE ACT

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that provides certain employees in the United States with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year to care for a covered family member and up to 26 six weeks of unpaid leave per year to care for a covered armed service member. The Serve America Act Amendments to the National Community Service Act of 1990 extended FMLA protections to certain AmeriCorps and VISTA members.
 
VISTA members, including Leaders, are eligible for FMLA leave, if they satisfy all four of these conditions:
  1. Have successfully completed a full year (12 months) of service
  2. Serve with the same sponsor for a subsequent term of service
  3. Were assigned to the same sponsor for at least 1,250 hours (eight months) for the previous term of service
  4. Serve with a sponsor that has 50 or more employees 
Given these four parameters for FMLA eligibility, only a minority of VISTAs may be eligible for FMLA leave.  To begin the FMLA request process, a member should contact their sponsor, who can then liaise with the CNCS State Office for next steps.  
 
In the context of the AmeriCorps VISTA program, FMLA is a leave without pay status. An AmeriCorps VISTA member who is eligible for and takes “FMLA leave” stays enrolled in the AmeriCorps VISTA program, continues to receive healthcare benefits, and stays assigned to a VISTA project while taking the leave, but does not receive a living allowance. Further, member benefits and allowances (child care, accrual of the VISTA’s end-of-service award [i.e., Education Award or end-of-service stipend]) are suspended while on FMLA leave. The VISTA’s position at the project where the VISTA had been assigned remains available for when the VISTA returns and cannot be abolished or given to someone else during the VISTA's FMLA-approved absence. Upon return to the project, the VISTA’s program benefits that were suspended during FMLA leave, including the living allowance, resume. 

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