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The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 is a United States labor law requiring covered employers to provide employees with job-protected, unpaid leave for qualified medical and family reasons.

The Family and Medical Leave Act provides certain employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year. It also requires that their group health benefits be maintained during the leave.

FMLA applies to all public agencies, all pubic and private elementary and secondary schools, and companies with 50 or more employees. These employers must provide an eligible employee with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year for any of the following reasons:

  • For the birth and care of the newborn child of an employee;
  • For placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care;
  • To care for an immediate family member (ie., spouse, child, or parent) with a serious health condition; or
  • To take medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition.
  • Any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the spouse, or a son, daughter, or parent of the employee is on covered active duty (or has been notified of an impending call or order to covered active duty) in the Armed Forces.

Eligibility Requirements

Employees are eligible for leave if they have worked for their employer at least 12 months, at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months, and work at a location where the company employs 50 or more employees within 75 miles. Whether an employee has worked the minimum 1,250 hours of service is determined according to FLSA principles for determining compensable hours or work.

Military family leave provisions, first added to the FMLA in 2008, afford FMLA protections specific to the needs of military families.

Under certain conditions, an employee may use the 12 weeks of FMLA leave intermittently. An employee may elect to substitute annual leave and/or sick leave, consistent with current laws and OPM’s (U.S. Office of Personnel Management) regulations for using annual and sick leave, for any unpaid leave under the FMLA. (The amount of sick leave that may be used to care for a family member is limited. See Sick Leave to Care for a Family Member with a Serious Health Condition.) FMLA leave is in addition to other paid time off available to an employee.

FMLA Responsibilities: Employees, Supervisors, Human Resources

The employee requesting leave:

  • is responsible for informing their supervisors when an absence is FMLA-related at time of absence, otherwise such absence will be considered regular time off.
  • must give the department at least 30 days notice of the leave, whenever possible.
  • must attempt to schedule a foreseeable leave so as not to unduly disrupt the department’s operation.
  • in the case of unexpected disability, must make a request as soon as practical.
  • obtains medical certification or other documentation needed to support request for FMLA absence.

Supervisors must:

  • send employee FMLA requests or otherwise notify Human Resources of employee absences that may be qualifying.
  • track and report FMLA qualifying absences.
  • notify HR as soon as possible if an employee is hospitalized or out for a serious medical condition.

A Human Resources representative shall:

  • review and respond to requests for leave that may be FMLA qualifying.
  • maintain University records of FMLA requests and action taken pursuant to those requests, including but not limited to initial requests, certifications, employer responses to requests.
  • advise supervisors on how to inform employees about FMLA leaves and/or approves requests for leave.
  • advise supervisors on how to document all leaves appropriately.
  • inform employees of FMLA leave requirements.

Serious Health Condition

A serious health condition is an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves:

  • Inpatient care: defined as an overnight stay in a hospital, hospice, or residential medical care facility; any overnight admission to such facilities, or
  • Continuing treatment by a health care provider: includes one or more of the following:
    • a period of incapacity of more than three consecutive, full calendar days, with either two or more in-person visits to the health care provider within 30 days of the date of incapacity OR one in-person visit to the health care provider with a regimen of continuing treatment, such as prescription medication, physical therapy, etc. In either situation, the first visit to the health care provider must occur within seven days of the first date of incapacity;
    • any period of incapacity due to pregnancy or for prenatal care;
    • any period of incapacity or treatment due to a chronic serious health condition; that requires periodic visits to a health care provider, continues over an extended period of time and may cause episodic rather than continuing periods of incapacity of more than three days;
    • a period of incapacity that is permanent or long-term due to a condition for which treatment may not be effective; or any period of absence due to multiple treatments (including any period of recovery from the treatments) for restorative surgery after an accident or other injury, or a condition that would likely result in a period of incapacity of more than three consecutive, full calendar days in the absence of medical intervention or treatment.

Leave Requests

Eligible employees interested in FMLA should:

  • Request FMLA information and forms from Human Resources.
  • If the leave is ‘foreseeable’, a 30-day advance notice is requested along with the completed forms. If such a notice is not provided, the leave could be denied.

Placing Employee on FMLA Leave Without Request

In addition to approving an employee request for leave under FMLA, the Act allows an employer to place an employee on FMLA leave without a specific request. This can occur when the employer has cause to believe that the period of absence is FMLA-qualifying.

In such situations, the supervisors or responsible administrators should:

  • Notify the employee that they are being placed on a FMLA leave when appropriate and provide them with the FMLA information and forms.
  • Inform the employee how their accrued leave will be used: An employee is required to use concurrently with the FMLA leave, the following paid leaves in the order listed:
    • paid time off, followed by
    • extended sick leave to which the employee is entitled.

Employees should:

  • Complete the form as appropriate and return the signed form to Human Resources for processing.

Resources for FMLA Information

Frequently Asked Questions