Family and Medical Leave (FMLA)

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What Is the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)?

The Family and Medical Leave Act is a federal law that provides job protection and benefits coverage to eligible employees. The intent of the law is to help employees balance their work and family responsibilities by ensuring their right to take reasonable unpaid leave for certain family and medical reasons. It also seeks to promote equal employment opportunity for men and women. 

FMLA allows you to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave a year for such things as the birth or adoption of a child, a family member's military duty, or a serious illness or injury to you or an immediate family member. You can take up to 26 weeks to care for a covered military service member with a serious injury or illness.

Although FMLA leave is unpaid, the law ensures that you can keep your health insurance while you are away and that you will have the same or equal job and pay when you return.

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What Kinds of Absences Are Covered Under FMLA?

FMLA covers employees for up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave from work during the applicable 12-month period because of:

  • An employee’s own serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of their job
  • The need to care for an employee's spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition
  • The birth of a child or placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care
  • A qualifying situation due to an employee’s family member being called to military active duty

 FMLA also allows up to 26 weeks of leave to care for a covered military service member during a single 12-month period.

 You don't have to take all your FMLA leave at once. You can take it intermittently or as part of a reduced work schedule if medically necessary.

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Am I Eligible?

You are eligible for FMLA if you have worked for the University at least 12 months. The 12 months do not have to be consecutive but have to be within the last seven years. The total can include full-time, part-time, or temporary-casual employment.

If you have worked at the University less than 12 months but need to take a leave of absence for an FMLA-qualifying event, you may meet the 12-month requirement while you are absent from work. Your time away from work counts toward your length of employment.

Contact your unit's HR representative if you have questions about eligibility.

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What Happens to My Pay and Benefits While I'm on FMLA?

Pay

FMLA does not provide paid leave. But if you are eligible, you are required to use the balance of your sick, comp, and vacation time; parental leave (if applicable); or other paid leave of absence while you're on FMLA leave. 

Benefits

FMLA requires that employers maintain their employees’ health benefits during leave and restore employees to their same or an equivalent job after the leave.

The University will pay the employer portion of health benefits coverage during an FMLA leave. You are responsible for paying your portion of health insurance, along with any extra premiums to cover family members, life insurance, long-term disability insurance, parking fees, or other payroll deductions.

If you are using paid leave such as vacation or sick time during FMLA, your portion of health insurance will be automatically deducted from your paycheck as usual. However, if your paid leave runs out while you are still on FMLA leave, you will need to make arrangements to continue paying your portion of benefits.

An employee on an unpaid leave will receive a letter with information on continuation of benefits. You should follow the instructions in the letter to indicate what benefits coverage you want to continue. You will then be emailed a bill from Accounts Receivable showing how much your benefits coverage will cost.

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How Do I Request a Leave Under FMLA?

To begin the FMLA process, simply tell your immediate supervisor, orally or in writing. Your supervisor will inform your collegiate or administrative unit's HR department, who will fill out and send you three documents within five business days:

  1. FMLA Designation Notice (pdf)
  2. FMLA Notice of Rights and Responsibilities (pdf)
  3. Notice of Rights Under FMLA (pdf)

Please read the documents carefully. They will confirm if you are eligible for leave under FMLA and, depending on your situation, may ask you to provide documents verifying your need for an absence.

You should give at least 30 days' notice of an FMLA-covered absence when possible, such as for the birth or adoption of a child or for planned medical treatment for you or a family member.

When it is not practical to give 30 days' notice, or when the need to be absent is not planned, you should give notice as soon as you can. If you don't provide at least 30 days' notice of a foreseeable FMLA absence, you can be asked to explain the reason for the delay.

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What Steps Do I Need to Take to Be Sure My Absence Is Protected Under FMLA?

During an FMLA absence, you should follow these four steps to make sure your absence is protected under FMLA:

Step 1: Notify the University of the anticipated timing and duration of an absence when possible.

See "How Do I Request a Leave Under FMLA?" above.

Step 2: Read the FMLA "Notice of Eligibility and Rights and Responsibilities" when you receive it. It contains important information that will be helpful to you. 

Pay particular attention to these sections:

  • Are you eligible?
  • Has your employer requested certification documentation? 

Step 3: Provide any additional information requested by your unit or supervisor.

You may be asked to provide documents certifying the reason for your absence. If so, it will be noted on the Notice of Eligibility and Rights and Responsibilities. You will have 15 days to return the certifying documentation to your employing unit.

Step 4: Stay in communication with your supervisor and unit HR department about your absence.

It’s important that you keep in touch, when possible, with your supervisor and unit HR department, especially if the length of your absence is open-ended.

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Where Can I Find More Information?