Family & Medical Leave (FMLA)
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.
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 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;
- 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;
- 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.
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 a combination of Short-Term Medical Disability (STMD) and 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, subject to approval and following an elimination period, use paid STMD. 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 Caregiver/Parental leave and vacation time will be applied. See Short-Term Medical Disability and Caregiver/Parental leave policies for more information.
An employee shall substitute unused Caregiver/Parental leave and accrued sick or vacation time for leaves designated as FAMILY LEAVE, and as applicable for immediate family members under MILITARY CAREGIVER LEAVE and, in limited circumstances, for MILITARY EXIGENCY LEAVE. See Caregiver/Parental leave policy for more information.
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 Unum 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.
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. See Caregiver/Parental leave policy for more information.
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 Unum 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.
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 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 Unum 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 Unum as soon as is reasonable and practicable.
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 Unum, 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.
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 Unum a health care provider’s certification providing information as to the condition and inability to perform one or more essential functions of the job.
The University may request subsequent re-certifications during the course of the leave in accordance with the limitations set forth in the FMLA regulations.
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.
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 paid or unpaid FMLA. 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.
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.
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.