Staff on Special Leave Without Pay

Before your SLWOP

As a staff member, you have the option of maintaining your existing health and life insurance coverage during a special leave without pay (SLWOP) period provided you pay the full premium (i.e., your contribution plus the organizations’ subsidy) in advance of the coverage period. If you decide to retain coverage during the period of SLWOP, HLIS must be informed directly in writing of your intention at least 31 days in advance of the commencement of the special leave:

  • Inform the HLIS or your respective HR officer about your new status
  • Can continue coverage for both health and life insurance but must pay the entire insurance premium while on a SLWOP
  • Provide evidence that their SLWOP has been approved
  • Submit advance payment covering the full premium for coverage to continue

Return from SLWOP

Upon return from SLWOP:

  • For health insurance coverage, you will be automatically enrolled and need to request termination of your health insurance coverage within 31 days of your return if desired. Please note that you will automatically be enrolled in the same plan(s) and coverage level you had prior to the SLWOP period. For instance, if you were covered under Empire Blue Cross and Cigna Dental for medical and dental coverage respectively but elected to enroll in Cigna International for the duration of your SLWOP, you will only be eligible to enroll in Empire Blue Cross and Cigna Dental upon your return.
  • For life insurance coverage, you need to submit a life insurance application along with an Evidence of Insurability (EOI) questionnaire if you suspend your life insurance coverage during the SLWOP period. Please note that an EOI is not required if the SLWOP is for less than 30 calendar days. 
  • For staff members of other United Nations organizations, re-enrollment to the health insurance plan and coverage level in which the staff member insured before taking the special leave without pay, should be done through the staff member’s human resources office in the respective organization.

Guidance Material


What actions do I need to take to retain coverage during my SLWOP?

You must inform the HLIS directly (in writing) of your intention at least 31 days in advance of the commencement of the special leave. At that time, HLIS will require evidence of approval of the special leave, together with payment covering the full amount of the cost of the coverage(s) retained (i.e., both the staff member’s contribution and the Organization’s share, given that no subsidy is payable during such leave).

What actions do I need to take upon return to work following my SLWOP?

Upon return to duty following special leave without pay, Umoja automatically reinstates coverage for United Nations staff members under the health insurance plan and coverage type in which you were insured before taking the special leave without pay. In case you wish to drop insurance coverage, you can request withdrawal from the plan within 31 days of the return from special leave without pay. Failure to withdraw within 31 days of the return from special leave without pay will result in you being unable to withdraw until the next annual enrollment campaign.

Can I make changes between health insurance plans during my SLWOP?

You may be allowed to transfer to a health insurance plan that is more appropriate to where you will reside during the period of special leave, provided that such leave is at least six months in duration. However, if you were enrolled in the UN Worldwide Plan before taking special leave and plan to reside in the United States during the period of special leave, you may enroll in the Aetna or Empire Blue Cross and Cigna Dental plans. 

I am on leave without pay and would like to add a dependant during this campaign. I intend to return from leave soon. What do I have to do?

Please make your changes by submitting an application form to

Is my dependent spouse entitled to benefits during my SLWOP?

Yes, dependent spouses are entitled to benefits during the SLWOP.

Whom to inform about your Special Leave Without Pay

To continue coverage and obtain payment instructions, staff members must provide information about their new status via the channels below:

For UNHQ staff: must contact the UN Health and Life Insurance Section (HLIS) directly via

For local staff outside the US (MIP plan participants): must contact their respective HR focal person.

For staff members at other entities (UNDP, UNICEF and UNOPS): must contact their respective HR officer.