Human Resources

FMLA

Family & Medical Leave

The University recognizes that employees occasionally need to take time away from work to care for important family and medical needs. This policy is based on the requirements of the Family and Medical Leave Act and is designed to meet those needs in a manner that is beneficial to employees, their families, and the University.

FMLA Forms

Types of Leave Under this Policy

There are five basic types of FMLA leave under this policy: Employee Medical Leave, Family Leave, New Child Leave, Military Exigency Leave, and Military Caregiver Leave.

  1. Employee Medical Leave is defined as time off due to a serious health condition of the employee, as certified by a health care provider.
  2. Family Leave is defined as time off to care for a spouse, child or parent, with a serious health condition, as certified by a health care provider.
  3. New Child Leave is defined as time off following the birth of a child or placement of a child through adoption or foster care.
  4. Military Exigency Leave is defined as time off because of any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the spouse, child, or parent of an employee is on active duty (or has been notified of an impending call or order to active duty) in the Armed Forces in support of a contingency operation.
  5. Military Caregiver Leave is defined as time off to care for a spouse, child, parent or next of kin who is a member of the Armed Forces, including a member of the National Guard or Reserves, and who is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy, is otherwise in outpatient status, or is otherwise on the temporary disability retired list, for a serious injury or illness incurred by the service member in the line of active duty.

 

Eligibility

An employee is eligible to request an FMLA leave if he/she has been an employee of the University for at least twelve (12) months and has worked at least 1250 hours during the twelve-month period immediately preceding the leave.

Reasons For 12-Week Leave

Subject to the requirements described in this policy, an eligible employee may request and will be granted up to 12 workweeks of unpaid FMLA leave during any 12-month period (i.e., a rolling 12-month period measured backward from the date requested leave will be used) for one or more of the following events:

  • The birth of a child, which falls under EMPLOYEE MEDICAL LEAVE;
  • The placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care, and first year care of a child following birth or placement for adoption or foster care, which falls under NEW CHILD LEAVE;
  • The care of the employee’s spouse, child or parent with a serious health condition, which falls under FAMILY LEAVE;
  • The employee’s own serious health condition, which renders him/her unable to perform the functions of the employee’s position, which falls under EMPLOYEE MEDICAL LEAVE;
  • A qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the spouse, child, or parent of an employee is on active duty (or has been notified of an impending call or order to active duty) in the Armed Forces in support of a contingency operation, which falls under Military Exigency Leave.

Reasons For 26-Week Leave

Subject to the requirements described in this policy, an eligible employee may request and will be granted MILITARY CAREGIVER LEAVE consisting of up to 26 workweeks of unpaid FMLA leave during a 12-month period to care for a spouse, child, parent or next of kin who is a member of the Armed Forces, including a member of the National Guard or Reserves, and who is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy, is otherwise in outpatient status, or is otherwise on the temporary disability retired list, for a serious injury or illness incurred by the service member in the line of active duty. This leave is only available to the employee during a single 12-month period. In no 12-month period may an employee’s total FMLA leave exceed 26 workweeks.

Reinstatement

Unless one of the exceptions in the law applies, an employee who takes an FMLA leave for the intended purposes of the leave shall be entitled, on timely return from the leave and completion of all required documentation, to be restored to the position of employment held when the leave commenced or to an equivalent position with equivalent employment benefits, pay and other terms and conditions of employment. The taking of an FMLA leave shall not result in the loss of any employment benefit accrued prior to the date on which the leave commenced; provided, however, that nothing in this policy shall entitle any employee who returns from leave to the accrual of any seniority or additional employment benefits during the period of the leave.

Health Benefits

At the election of the eligible employee, any group health plan as defined by the FMLA will be maintained for the duration of an FMLA leave and at the level and under the conditions coverage would have been provided if the employee had continued in employment for the duration of the leave. The employee will be responsible for paying his/her share of the premium. While on an unpaid FMLA leave, the employee will be responsible for paying this part of the premium by submitting payment to the Benefits Office on or before each regular payday. The University may recover its share of the premiums for maintaining coverage for the employee under such group health plan during the period of an FMLA leave if the employee fails to return to work (or returns but fails to stay 30 calendar days) for reasons other than the continuation or onset of a serious health condition entitling the employee to leave, the continuation, recurrence or onset of a medical condition that entitles the employee to Military Caregiver Leave, or other circumstances beyond the employee’s control.

Certification of inability to return to work as specified and allowed by the FMLA may be required.

Substitution of Paid Leave

An employee must substitute the applicable available paid leave for any unpaid FMLA leave, as permitted by the FMLA and its regulations. Upon exhaustion of any such paid leave, the remainder of any FMLA leave will be unpaid. In no case will the combination of paid and unpaid leave used for an FMLA purpose exceed the maximum leave allowed under the FMLA.

An employee shall substitute accrued sick time for leaves designated as EMPLOYEE MEDICAL LEAVE. During a certified period of disability due to the birth of a child, an employee will be on EMPLOYEE MEDICAL LEAVE and use accrued sick time. Any additional leave due to the birth of a child and the need to care for such child will be NEW CHILD LEAVE for which vacation time will be applied.

An employee shall substitute accrued vacation time for leaves designated as FAMILY LEAVE, Military Exigency Leave or Military Caregiver Leave.

New Child Leave

FMLA leave for first year care of a child after birth, or for the placement of a child for adoption or foster care falls under NEW CHILD LEAVE. Such leave includes paternal leave and must be taken within the 12-month period that starts on the date of such birth or placement. Regardless of when such leave begins, it will end no later than the end of the 12-month period. Unless specifically permitted, FMLA leave for these purposes cannot be taken on an intermittent or reduced leave schedule.

Married Couples

If both spouses are employed by the University, they are limited to a combined total of 12 workweeks of FMLA leave during any 12-month period for the birth of a child or the placement of a child for adoption or foster care; or to care for the employee’s parent with a serious health condition. However, each employee may use up to 12 workweeks of FMLA leave during any 12-month period if the leave is for the care of the employee’s spouse or child with a serious health condition or the employee’s own serious health condition. If both spouses are employed by the University, they are limited to a combined total of 26 workweeks during the single 12-month period if the leave is Military Caregiver Leave or a combination of Military Caregiver Leave and Family Leave, Employee Medical Leave or Military Exigency Leave.

Advance Notification of Need for New Child Leave

An eligible employee who foresees that she/he will require a leave for the birth/care of a child, or for adoption or foster care placement, must notify his/her supervisor and the Office of Human Resources in writing not less than 30 calendar days in advance of the start of the leave. If not foreseeable, the employee must provide as much written notice as is practicable under the circumstances, generally within two working days of learning of the need for leave.

Advance Notification of Need for Family, Employee Medical Leave or Military Caregiver Leave

An employee who foresees the need for a leave due to planned medical treatment for herself/himself or for an applicable family member, must notify his/her supervisor and the Office of Human Resources in writing as early as possible so that the absence can be scheduled at a time least disruptive to the University’s operations. Such notice must be at least 30 calendar days in advance of the start of leave, unless impracticable, in which case the employee must provide the written notice as early as circumstances permit, generally within two working days of learning of the need for leave.

When planning medical treatment, the employee should schedule the leave so as to minimally disrupt the University’s operations, subject to the approval of the health care provider. Employees are ordinarily expected to consult with their supervisors prior to scheduling treatment in order to work out a treatment schedule that best suits the needs of both the employee and the University.

Advance Notification of Need for Military Exigency Leave

An employee who foresees the need for such leave, whether because the employee’s spouse, child, or parent is on active duty or because of notification of an impending call or order to active duty in support of a contingency operation, must notify his/her supervisor and the Office of Human Resources in writing as soon as is reasonable and practicable.

Medical Certifications

  1. If the requested leave is to care for a spouse, child or parent who has a serious health condition or to care for a covered service member, the employee will be required to file with the supervisor and the Office of Human Resources, in a timely manner, a health care provider’s certification providing information as to the serious health condition and stating that the employee is needed to care for the family member.
  2. If the requested leave is because of a serious health condition of the employee, he/she will be required to file with the supervisor and the Office of Human Resources a health care provider’s certification providing information as to the condition and inability to perform one or more essential functions of the job.
  3. The University may request subsequent re-certifications during the course of the leave in accordance with the limitations set forth in the FMLA regulations.
  4. Records and documents relating to medical certifications, re-certifications, or medical histories of employees or employees’ family members will be maintained as confidential medical records in files separate from the usual personnel files, subject only to the limited exceptions set forth in the FMLA regulations.

Intermittent and Reduced Leave Schedule

Subject to the limitations and certifications allowed by the FMLA, leaves taken to care for an employee’s covered family member, for the employee’s own serious health condition, or to care for qualified service member, may be taken intermittently or on a reduced leave schedule when medically necessary, provided a health care provider certifies the expected duration and schedule of such leave and provides further that the employee gives the supervisor and the Office of Human Resources at least 30 days advance written notice if the need for the leave is foreseeable based on planned medical treatment. The employee may be required or may elect to transfer temporarily to an available alternative position for which the employee is qualified and that has equivalent pay and benefits and better accommodates recurring periods of leave than the employee’s regular position.

Subject to the limitations and certifications allowed by the FMLA, Military Exigency Leave may be taken intermittently or on a reduced schedule basis.

In the case of intermittent leave or leave on a reduced leave schedule which is medically necessary, an employee must inform his or her supervisor, upon request, of the reasons why the intermittent or reduced leave schedule is necessary and of the schedule for treatment, if applicable. In these cases, employees are ordinarily expected to consult with their supervisors prior to scheduling treatment in order to work out a treatment schedule that best suits the needs of both the employee and the University. If an employee who provides notice of the need to take FMLA leave on an intermittent basis or a reduced leave schedule for planned medical treatment neglects to consult with his or her supervisor to make an attempt to arrange the schedule of treatments so as to not unduly disrupt the University’s operations, the supervisor may initiate discussions with the employee and require him or her to attempt to make such arrangements, subject to the approval of the health care provider.

Status Reports and Fitness-for-Duty Certification

An employee on an approved leave under this policy must inform the supervisor and the Office of Human Resources regarding her/his status and intent to return to work upon conclusion of the leave. An employee may also be required to submit a fitness-for-duty certification before returning to work.

Second and Third Medical Options

In cases where there is reason to doubt the validity of the health care provider’s certification for leaves taken to care for the employee’s family member or their own serious health condition, the University may, at its own expense, require second and third opinions, as specified by the FMLA, to resolve the issue.

Intent to Comply with Law

The provisions of this policy are intended to comply with the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, as amended, and any terms used from the FMLA will be as defined in the Act or the U.S. Department of Labor regulations. To the extent that this policy is ambiguous or contradicts the Act or regulations, the language of the Act or regulations will prevail. Washington University reserves the right to amend this policy from time to time to comply with any changes to the Act or regulations.

Questions and Answers for Family and Medical Leave

1. Q. What is the Family and Medical Leave Act?

A. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides five different types of leave to “eligible” employees for certain family and medical reasons. Employees may take up to a total of 12 weeks of leave for most of these leaves or up to a total of 26 for one type of leave. Employees are eligible if they have worked for a covered employer for at least 12 months, and for 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months.

2. Q. What is the difference between “family” and “medical” reasons?

A. Family leave is defined as time off to care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition, as certified by a health care provider. Medical leave is defined as time off due to a serious health condition of the employee as certified by a health care provider.

3. Q. How does it work?

A. FMLA time is a benefit coordinated with other time off policies. FMLA time begins when an FMLA qualifying event takes place. The utilization of accrued sick and vacation time allows this time off to be compensated time.

4. Q. Do I have a choice of when to use accrued sick time and when to use accrued vacation time?

A. No. Accrued sick time will be used when the time off is due to your serious health condition, which falls under the provisions of medical leave. If you lack sufficient accrued sick time to cover the absence, you will also use available vacation time. Accrued vacation time would be used when the time off is for the care of an immediate family member with a serious health condition, for new child leave, military exigency leave or military caregiver leave.

5. Q. Do I have to request family and medical leave time?

A. When you request time off, it is up to the University to determine if the time off falls under the provisions of our family and medical leave policy and the FMLA. To assist in this decision, a form has been designed for use when requesting time off.

6. Q. The Departmental Leave Policy allows up to 6 months of unpaid, job-protected time off, for medically related reasons, including childbirth. How is this coordinated with the FMLA and the Family and Medical Leave policy?

A. Departmental Leave runs concurrently with the FMLA and the Family and Medical Leave policy. Just as with the Family and Medical Leave policy, time off granted under this policy requires the employee meet certain eligibility criteria as well as submission of a leave of absence application and physician certification.

7. Q. Will taking FMLA affect my future employment?

A. Generally, no. It is unlawful for any employer to interfere with or restrain or deny the exercise of any right provided under this law. Employers cannot use the taking of FMLA leave as a negative factor in employment actions, such as hiring, promotions or disciplinary actions; nor can FMLA leave be counted under “no fault” attendance policies. Under limited circumstances, an employer may deny reinstatement to work – but not the use of FMLA leave – to certain highly-paid, salaried (“key”) employees.

8. Q. Does the law guarantee paid time off?

A. No. The FMLA only requires unpaid leave. However, the law permits an employee to elect, or the employer to require the employee, to use accrued paid leave, such as vacation or sick leave, for some or all of the FMLA leave period. When paid leave is substituted for unpaid FMLA leave it may be counted against the 12-week or 26-week FMLA leave entitlement if the employee is properly notified of the designation when the leave begins.

9. Q. What happens if I need time off due to my own illness, for example, surgery or recovery due to a non-work related injury?

A. If you provide a physician’s statement that certifies that you are being treated, that you are unable to work and the approximate amount of time off that will be necessary, you will be considered on Employee Medical Leave utilizing accrued sick time in order to be compensated. If the amount of time off that is necessary exceeds the number of sick days that you have available, accrued vacation time will be utilized. If the amount of accrued time available to you does not cover the complete recovery period, the balance of time off will be taken without pay.

Once you return to work, if there is a need for follow-up doctor visits or on-going treatments (e.g. physical therapy, chemotherapy), this intermittent time off will fall under the benefits of the FMLA. Accrued sick time would be utilized for this intermittent time off.

10. Q. If I have surgery and am unable to work for 5 months, how does the 12 weeks of FMLA time apply?

A. Once approved, the first 12 weeks of your leave will fulfill your benefit under the FMLA. Remember, to be eligible for leave time, you will need to provide medical certification that you need the time off. After you have exhausted the 12 weeks of FMLA, with supervisory approval, you may extend your leave by applying for Departmental Leave, which can grant you up to an additional 3 months of leave.

11. Q. If I have surgery and am unable to work for 5 months, can I choose to take the time off without pay?

A. No. Whenever leave time is used, you must utilize any accrued sick and/or accrued vacation time, until this time is exhausted. If you do not have enough accrued time to cover the leave period, the balance of time off will be uncompensated time.

12. Q. Can I use accrued sick days while on New Child Leave?

A. No. You would use accrued vacation time. However, a mother will be on medical leave for the first several weeks following childbirth, and would use sick days during this time.

13. Q. What happens to my benefits while I am on leave?

A. Your benefits, in effect at the time the leave began, continue to be in effect. While on leave you will still be responsible for payment of the employee portion of insurance premiums.

14. Q. When does a leave begin?

A. A leave begins when your supervisor is notified, with the proper certification, that you need time off due to: A serious health condition of your own; an immediate family member with a serious health condition that requires your assistance; the birth, adoption, or foster placement of a child; any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the spouse, child, or parent of an employee is on active duty (or has been notified of an impending call or order to active duty) in the Armed Forces in support of a contingency operation; or to care for a spouse, child, parent or next of kin who is a member of the Armed Forces, including a member of the National Guard or Reserves, and who is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy, is otherwise in outpatient status, or is otherwise on the temporary disability retired list, for a serious injury or illness incurred by the service member in the line of active duty.

15. Q. Can my employer refuse to grant me FMLA leave?

A. If you are an “eligible” employee who has met FMLA’s notice and certification requirements (and you have not exhausted your FMLA leave entitlement for the year), you may not be denied FMLA leave.

16. Q. Can medical leave be taken for short-term conditions?

A. Possibly. If short-term conditions go untreated, they could develop into a more serious illness and require the employee to be off work for 3 days or more. If this happens, employee could possibly qualify for FMLA.

17. Q. Must a child be under a certain age for a parent to be allowed to take family leave?

A. A son or daughter is generally considered to be a “child” when under 18 years of age. However, a son or daughter who is 18 or older, may be considered a “child” if he or she has a disability that makes him or her incapable of performing several of the activities of daily living without assistance.

18. Q. Who is considered a “healthcare provider”?

A. A healthcare provider is defined to include doctors of medicine or osteopathy, podiatrists, dentists, clinical psychologists, optometrists and chiropractors (limited to treatment consisting of manual manipulation of the spine to correct an x-ray subluxation), nurse practitioners and nurse midwives (to the extent they are authorized to practice medicine) and Christian Science practitioners.

19. Q. Can men take New Child Leave under the FMLA?

A. Yes. The right to leave applies equally to men and women. A father can request a leave of absence because of the birth of his child, or placement for adoption or foster care.

20. Q. Does workers’ compensation leave count against my FMLA benefit?

A. It can. FMLA leave and workers’ compensation leave can run concurrently, provided the reason for the absence is due to a qualifying serious illness or injury and you are properly notified that the leave will be counted as FMLA leave.

21. Q. Do the 12 months of service with the employer have to be continuous or consecutive?

A. No. The 12 months do not have to be continuous or consecutive; all time worked for the employer is counted.

22. Q. Do the 1,250 hours include paid leave time or other absences from work?

A. No. The 1,250 hours include only those hours actually worked for the employer. Paid leave and unpaid leave, including FMLA leave, are not included.

23. Q. Do I have to give my employer my medical records for leave due to a serious health condition?

A. No. You do not have to provide medical records. The employer may, however, request that, for any leave taken due to a serious health condition, you provide a medical certification confirming that a serious health condition exists.

24. Q. Can my employer require me to return to work before I exhaust my leave?

A. Subject to certain limitations, your employer may deny the continuation of FMLA leave due to a serious health condition if you fail to fulfill any obligations to provide supporting medical certification. You are required to return to work upon full release from the physician. The employer may not, however, require you to return to work early by offering you a light duty assignment.

25. Q. My spouse and I both work for Washington University. Are we allowed to take FMLA at the same time?

A. Spouses are limited to a maximum of 12 weeks total per couple for the birth of a child, for the placement of a child with employee for adoption or foster care, to care for employee’s parent with a serious health condition. Spouses are limited to a combined total of 26 weeks during the single 12-month period if the leave is Military Caregiver Leave or a combination of Military Caregiver Leave and Family Leave, Employee Medical Leave or Military Exigency Leave. Spouses each have a full 12-week allotment of leave for their own serious health condition, or for the care of a spouse or child with a serious health condition.

26. Q. An employee used five weeks of FMLA beginning February 1, 2007, two weeks beginning June 1, 2007 and four weeks beginning October 1, 2007. How many weeks of FMLA is the employee eligible for as of May 1, 2008?

A. If we look back 12 months (from May 1, 2008, through May 1, 2007), the employee used six weeks of FMLA during this period. Therefore, as of May 1, 2008, the employee is entitled to six weeks of leave.

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