How Does It Work?: Policies and Procedures

▼   Who is eligible for Family Medical Leave (FML)?
Employees are eligible  for  FML if the employee has  been  employed  for  at  least  12  months  and  have worked a minimum  of  1,250  hours  during  the  12-month  period prior to the time leave would begin under this policy.  Hours are calculated based upon actual hours worked, including overtime (excludes unpaid vacation/sick or PTO leave). All requests for FML are subject to eligibility determination and approval by the Human Resources office. 
▼   When should I start the FML process?
A verbal or written request from the employee to the supervisor is required to initiate the FML process. If the need for FML is foreseeable, the employee must provide notice no less than 30 days to the supervisor. The FML process must be started as soon as the notice is received. The employee may not specifically mention “FML” when asking for the time off, but you should be aware that the reason may qualify for FML. When in doubt, contact Human Resources.


▼   Is it my responsibility to confirm the employee is eligible for FML?

No. Human Resources will determine eligibility for FML protection. Once the Leave of Absence Request form and any other supporting documentation is received from your office, Human Resources will then determine eligibility and mail the initial eligibility letter to the employee. This initial letter may include additional required documentation to support the request for FML protection.

▼   Do I have the option to deny FML if our department is busy?

No. If the employee is eligible and approved for FML, they must be allowed to take the leave.

▼   When should an employee’s absence be designated as FML leave?

Designation of absences as FML leave should occur as soon as possible. For this reason, it is important that you are working with Human Resources to determine that the employee is eligible and that the absence qualifies for FML leave. Sometimes, because information has not been shared in a timely manner, the absence cannot be designated as FML leave until the employee actually returns to work.


▼   Can the University place an employee on FML leave if the employee fails to request the leave?

Yes. If the employee is eligible for FML and is taking time off for a covered situation, the University can designate the time off as FML, even if the employee did not request it.


▼   Can the University deny FML leave even if the employee meets the eligibility requirements and has a serious health condition?

No. However, FML leave approval could be delayed or denied if the employee fails to submit the required paperwork.


▼   An employee is approved for FML. How will I know which absences are for the FML-covered reason?

Ask the employee. First, the employee must follow your department’s call-in procedure for absences (e.g., when to call, whom to call). Second, when the employee calls in, you need to ask the employee whether the absence is for a FML-covered reason. The employee must answer your questions that are reasonably directed to determine whether the absence is covered. You do not need a lot of information, but you do need to know enough to determine whether the absence is FML related (e.g., “are you out today for an FML reason?” or “I understand you are unable to work today – is this related to your FML leave?”).


▼   What if the employee’s absences are not consistent with the information I received from Human Resources (e.g., the employee is absent more often than the healthcare provider suggested)?

Contact Human Resources. It may be necessary to have the employee recertify the FML condition if the number or frequency of absences is not consistent with what the healthcare provider suggested. Human Resources will not be aware of the amount of absences unless you let them know. Once notified, HR will send a recertification request to the employee.


▼   Can I ask for updates from the employee on leave?

While on FML leave, the employee is required to furnish the supervisor with periodic reports of status and intent to return to work. In addition, the employee must contact his/her supervisor at least two weeks prior to the end of the approved leave with notification of their intent to return to work. Failure to do so will be considered as a voluntary resignation.


▼   Are there differences in how FML leave is administered between Staff and Faculty?

No, all groups of employees have the same rights under the FMLA. However, the University leave policies that outline how employees may use paid leave during their time off may differ depending on the employee category (e.g., PTO vs Sick/Vacation).


▼   A full-time faculty member on a 9-month appointment. How does the FMLA apply?

The FMLA covers the employee assuming he/she meets the eligibility criteria as defined in the policy. FMLA governs leaves of absence from the time the employee would otherwise be working – the 9-month appointment. FMLA would not cover the three months the employee is on summer break. If the employee is paid by the University and continues to perform services for the University during the summer, seek clarification from Human Resources as to whether the FMLA may apply for the employee in such a situation.


▼   An employee is on a full-time 9-month faculty appointment and has a baby in June. The appointment requires the employee to return to work in August. How does the FMLA apply to this situation?

For birth or care of a baby (or placement of a child through foster care or adoption), leave must be taken and completed within the first year of the birth (or placement). Even though the baby was born in June, the employee may still use FML when the appointment commences in August.


▼   An employee’s spouse is pregnant. Can the employee use FML time for the birth or adoption of a child or placement of a foster child?

Yes, if the employee is eligible for FML leave. However, the University leave policies that describe how employees may be paid during their time off may differ. For instance, under the Traditional Plan (sick and vacation) during maternity leave, up to six weeks of accrued sick leave must be taken, if available.  However,  sick leave may not be  used  to  extend  maternity leave  beyond  90  calendar days. Paid sick leave will not normally exceed six weeks during maternity leave. Thereafter, the employee may take accrued vacation. If the purpose of the leave is to care for the employee's spouse who is recuperating from childbirth, adoption or the foster care placement  of  a  child, up to six weeks of accrued sick leave may be taken, if available. Thereafter, the employee may take accrued vacation.

In the case of PTO, maternity leave or leave for the care of the employee's spouse who is recuperating from childbirth, the employee will be required to first use 40 hours of PTO. Thereafter, PTO use is voluntary. However, employees may not use PTO hours (if available) to extend maternity leave beyond 90 calendar days. 

If the purpose of the leave is to care for a seriously ill family member, the birth or adoption of a child, to care for a newborn child or the foster care placement of a child; due to the active duty status of a family member, or to provide care of a covered service member, you must use PTO. 

▼   An employee and his/her spouse both work for the University. Does that affect their FML leave rights?

Each eligible employee shall have to 12/26 weeks of FML leave independent of each other except for the birth or adoption of a child or placement of a foster child, or to care for a service member who was injured or became ill in the line of duty. In those exceptions, they share the 12/26 weeks. For example, both employees could take 6 weeks to care for their newborn, for a total of 12 weeks. While no additional time can be taken under the FML for the newborn, each employee has 6 weeks of eligible leave remaining to use for other FML covered situations.


▼   What is the department’s responsibility after FML has been approved?

The Department is responsible for tracking the employee’s absences and knowing when the FML leave will expire. The Department needs to maintain contact with Human Resources regarding absences and leave. The supervisor should receive the employee’s FML return-to-work release before the employee returns to active employment. If the release requires work restrictions, please contact Human Resources to discuss the restrictions.


▼   Should I wait until the employee uses all his or her sick leave or PTO before contacting Human Resources to start FML?

No. FML leave should begin as soon as you know the employee needs leave for a covered reason, even if the employee has paid leave available. Do not wait for the employee to exhaust the paid leave. FML leave runs concurrent with paid leave.


▼   The employee has a large balance of sick or PTO leave. Why does he or she need to go through the FML leave process for the absence if the employee has available sick/PTO leave to use?

The University is required to designate and track absences as FML even if the employee has sufficient sick/PTO leave to cover the leave of absence. Remember, the sick/PTO leave and FMLA run concurrently.


▼   An employee would like to save his or her paid leave for another situation, can FML leave be unpaid?

No, not if the employee has paid leave available to use. Please review the University’s leave policies in the Staff Employee Handbook which outline how employees are paid during their time off.


▼   Who is responsible for tracking FML absences?

As the supervisor, you are responsible for tracking an employee’s FML absences. It is extremely important that the tracking is accurate. This is particularly important when an employee is using intermittent FML leave. Human Resources will need this information for reference to determine current and future FML eligibility.


▼   What are the supervisor’s responsibilities?
Be receptive to requests about FML. If you do not know the answer to a question, refer the employee to Human Resources.
▼   Does the employee return to the same position after FML leave?
Yes. As required by the FMLA, the employee is reinstated to the same or equivalent position upon return from leave. Contact Human Resources for further information.