Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a Federal law that entitles eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in a 12-month period for specified family and medical reasons, including Workers’ Compensation and Short-Term Disability. While an employee is on FMLA leave, their benefits and rights to their job are protected.

Eligibility

To be eligible for FMLA benefits, an employee must:

  1. work for a covered employer;
  2. have worked for the employer for a total of 12 months;
  3. have worked at least 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months; and
  4. work at a location where at least 50 employees are employed by the employer within 75 miles.

It is mandatory for the employee to apply for FMLA. The employee should contact the Benefits Office immediately to apply. The supervisor should advise the employee to do so, and notify the Benefits Office if they know an employee has been or is going to be out for an extended period of time. This protects the employee’s benefits and job, and ensures that the employee cannot use accrued leave outside of FMLA and then applies for an additional 12 weeks under FMLA sooner than 12 months.

Leave Entitlement

A covered employer must grant an eligible employee up to a total of 12 workweeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period for one or more of the following reasons:

  1. for the birth and care of a newborn child of the employee;
  2. for placement with the employee of a son or daughter for adoption or foster care;
  3. to care for a spouse, son, daughter, or parent with a serious health condition;
  4. to take medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition; or
  5. for qualifying exigencies arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is on active duty or call to active duty status as a member of the National Guard or Reserves in support of a contingency operation.

An employer may not deny FMLA and the employee is not required to inform the employer of the reason for the leave. The employee returns the paperwork to the Benefits Office and it is kept confidential. If the employee meets the eligibility requirements for FMLA leave, the Benefits Office will notify the supervisor in writing of the FMLA approval, however the employee needs to notify their supervisor of an upcoming leave, any changes in circumstances and stay in touch for the duration of the leave without telling them the reason.

A covered employer also must grant an eligible employee who is a spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin of a current member of the Armed Forces, including a member of the National Guard or Reserves, with a serious injury or illness up to a total of 26 workweeks of unpaid leave during a "single 12-month period" to care for the service member.

Procedure

  1. Every Research Foundation employee shall receive information regarding FMLA eligibility and requirements upon hire.
  2. Upon request, the employee will be provided with an FMLA Packet from the Benefits Office.
  3. The employee is responsible for completing the Employee Request for Leave, which is to be submitted by the employee to the Benefits Office.
  4. The employee is responsible for having the Certification of Health Care Provider completed by their Health Care Provider. The form is to be submitted to the employees’ Benefits Office for evaluation.
  5. The Benefits Office notifies the employee in writing of approval/denial of request for FMLA. A copy of the letter is sent to the employee and the employees’ supervisor.
    1. If approved: The employee may be requested to periodically submit re-certifications of his/her or spouse's, child's or parent's serious health condition to the Benefits Office.
    2. If denied: The employee may be requested to submit additional information if request for leave is incomplete. The employee will be notified of the reason for denial if other than incomplete application.
  6. Additional Conditions of Approved FMLA Leave:
    1. Short-term:
      1. To extend an approved short term leave additional medical documentation is required every thirty days.
      2. Returning to work prior to the end of the original leave is deemed an end to the employee's FMLA.
      3. Subsequent leaves require submission of a new request for a FMLA leave by the employee.
    2. Intermittent Leave:State employees granted FMLA leave for intermittent absences for a specified time period must designate such absences as a FMLA absence when calling in absence to the supervisor. FMLA leave also must be indicated on the timesheet by the State employee. Improper designation of unscheduled absences that are not covered by an approved FMLA leave for intermittent absence is misconduct for which appropriate administrative action will be taken.
  7. An employee that has been on a leave due to their own illness must submit medical clearance to the Benefits Office from their authorized Health Care Provider on official letter head that specifies:
    1. Their return to work date and,
    2. The fact that they can return to full unrestricted duty before being permitted to return to work. An employee out on leave for family members is required to notify their supervisor of their return prior to reporting to work. The employee's supervisor will notify the Benefits Office.
  8. A request to cancel an FMLA leave must be made by the employee in writing to the Benefits Office.

During the time that an employee is on FMLA leave sick leave must be charged first for the birth of a child and for the employee’s serious health condition. Once the sick time has ended, vacation or personal time may be used. For the care of a family member, family sick time (maximum of 15 days) would be used first, and then vacation or personal time may be used. For adoption or foster care placement of a child, vacation or personal time may be used.

Workers compensation and short-term disability run concurrently with FMLA leave.

Health Insurance

If the employee is on an FMLA leave without pay, they would be responsible for paying the same rate as an active employee to continue their benefits.

Definitions

Child is a biological, adopted or foster child, a stepchild or a legal ward who is either under the age of 18 or over 18 and incapable of self-care because of a mental or physical disability.

Parent is a biological parent, an adoptive parent or an individual who stands or stood in loco-parentis to an employee when the employee was a child.

Spouse is a husband or wife as defined or recognized under state law for purposes of marriage in the state where the employee resides, including common law marriage in states where it is recognized.

Serious Health Condition is an injury, illness, impairment or physical or mental condition that involves inpatient care, subsequent treatment in connection with such inpatient care or a period of incapacity requiring absence of more than three calendar days that also involves continuing treatment or supervision by a health care provider. The definition of a serious health condition does not generally cover minor illness.

Health Care Provider is a Doctor of Medicine, Doctor of Osteopathy, Podiatrist, Dentist, Optometrist, Psychologist, Chiropractor, Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Midwife, Christian Science Practitioner or Clinical Social Worker.

Consecutive Leave is leave granted for a serious health condition over a specified time period.

Intermittent Leave is leave granted for a specific serious health condition that requires intermittent absences over a specified time period. A Reduced Work Schedule: a leave schedule that reduces the usual number of hours per workweek, or hours per workday, of a State employee over a specified time period.

Additional information on these benefits can be found in your Research Foundation Benefits Handbook, the RF Leave Policy Manual and by calling the Benefits Office at (631) 632-6163.


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