is the Family Medical Leave Act?
The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993
(FMLA) is a federal law that was enacted on February 5, 1993.
The FMLA provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid job protected leave
to all eligible employees for qualified reasons (see below). To
be eligible for FMLA benefits, an employee must:
1. have worked at SPU for at least
2. have worked at least 1,250 hours
over the previous 12 months
FMLA leave is designed to protect the employee’s
position and health insurance benefits during absences for qualified
reasons. The University has gone beyond this requirement in support
of their employees and has elected to continue all the employee
benefits during an FMLA leave. The Human Resources Office is responsible
for coordinating all leaves of absence.
What Are Qualified
FMLA leave will
be granted to eligible employees for the following reasons:
- the employee’s
serious health condition
- the birth
and care of the employee’s child (within the first 12 months
following the event);
(with the employee) and care of a child for adoption or foster care
(within the first 12 months following the event); and
- care for the
employee’s spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition.
Parent: The biological parent of an employee or an individual
who stands or stood in loco parentis to an employee when the
employee was a child. Child: A biological, adopted, or
foster child, a stepchild, a legal ward, or a child of a person standing
in loco parentis, who is under 18 years of age or 18 years
of age or older and incapable of self-care because of a mental or
- FMLA leave
is available to both male and female employees who request leave for
the birth or placement and care of a child as outlined above.
Can Employees Receive
Pay While on FMLA?
Family Medical Leave is unpaid leave.
However, an unpaid FMLA leave may be designated to run concurrently
with other, paid leaves such as sick, vacation, short term disability,
or maternity leave.
Substitution of paid leave
- According to SPU’s policy, employees
are required to utilize or substitute accrued sick and vacation days
(in accordance with the provisions of the University’s sick and vacation
leave policies) for an otherwise unpaid FMLA leave. This is in an
effort to put a reasonable limit on the amount of time away from work
any employee is entitled to.
- Supervisor’s Note:
An example would be a male employee who requests and is granted a
reduced schedule FMLA leave to care for a newborn child. Under the
approved reduced schedule, the employee works four hours per day for
three consecutive weeks. Because the child does not have a serious
health condition, the employee can not utilize accrued sick days.
Therefore, the employee must substitute accrued vacation days for
the unpaid four hours per day FMLA leave. If the employee exhausts
all accrued vacation days prior to the end of the leave, then the
remaining FMLA leave will be unpaid.
FMLA the Same as a Medical Leave of Absence?
FMLA leave differs from Employee Medical
Leave in that the Employee Medical Leave is an SPU staff policy and
the FMLA leave is leave mandated by Federal law. FMLA may run
concurrently with SPU's Medical Leave policy and FMLA leave may be used
for intermittent absences or a reduced work schedule (with the University’s
Reduced Work Schedules
/ Intermittent Leave
- Leave need not be taken as a 12 week block,
but may be taken, with the department head’s approval, as a reduced
work schedule or as intermittent absences. Determination as to whether
an employee is qualified for FMLA leave will be made at the time leave
is requested. Supervisors should work together with employees who have
qualified FMLA reasons to make accommodation for the leave.
- Intermittent leave is not an entitlement
under the FMLA. Supervisors and department heads may choose to grant
such a request to assist an employee in coping with their reason for
needing the leave. The University encourages as much flexibility as
possible without jeopardizing a department’s ability to operate effectively.
a Serious Health Condition?
Serious Health Condition
An illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that
- inpatient care in a hospital, hospice
or residential medical care facility, or;
- continuing treatment by a health care
Continuing treatment. In
broad terms, means the following:
- A period of incapacity (i.e., inability
to work, attend school or perform other regular daily activities due
to the serious health condition, treatment thereof, or recovery therefrom)
of more than three consecutive calendar days (and any subsequent treatment
or period of incapacity involving the same condition) involving treatment
two or more times by a health care provider or treatment by a health
care provider on at least one occasion that results in a regimen of
continuing treatment under the health care provider's supervision.
- Any period of incapacity due to pregnancy
or prenatal care.
- Any period of incapacity or treatment
for such incapacity due to a chronic serious health condition that
requires periodic visits for treatment by a health care provider;
continues over an extended period of time; and may cause episodic
rather than continuing incapacity (asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, etc.).
- A period of incapacity that is permanent
or long-term due to a condition for which treatment may not be effective
(Alzheimer's, severe stroke, terminal stages of a disease).
- Any period of absence to receive multiple
treatments by a health care provider either for restorative surgery
after an accident or injury or for a condition that would likely result
in a period of incapacity of more than three consecutive calendar
days in the absence of medical intervention or treatment (chemotherapy
for cancer, physical therapy for severe arthritis, or dialysis for
- Within the guidelines of the FMLA,
the University's Sick Leave policy allows employees to use sick leave
to care for parents and spouses with a serious health condition. This
use must be monitored by supervisors. It is therefore important that
supervisors are familiar and comfortable with the definition of a
serious health condition.
- Under normal circumstances, a male
employee whose wife just delivered a baby would qualify to use 5 sick
days to care for his recovering spouse. Extended use of sick days
would require physician’s certification of the spouses "incapacitating"
medical condition. Otherwise, a male spouse may decide to use accrued
vacation for additional "paternity leave". In any situation,
this new father is entitled to up to 12 weeks of FMLA in the 12 months
following the birth of the child. (Actual amount of FMLA he qualifies
for is determined by the amount of FMLA he used during the 12 months
prior to the birth).
Much Notice is Required by Employees Prior to Using FMLA?
- Employee: Where possible,
the employee is required to provide written notice of the proposed FMLA
leave at least 30 days in advance. Where advance notice is not possible,
such as in the event of an emergency, the employee is to give notice
as soon as practicable. Where the leave is foreseeable, yet the employee
does not provide advance notice, the University may delay or postpone
the commencement of the leave.
- Supervisor: Any employee
using five or more sick days, or who anticipates an absence of five
or more days, is subject to an FMLA determination and should be reported
by the supervisor to the Office of Human Resources, regardless of whether
or not the employee has requested a leave of absence. Supervisors
are often the first to know of a need to designate the leave and should
contact the Office of Human Resources with any and all information pertaining
to the leave.
- University: The University
must designate all leave of absences qualified as FMLA leaves, regardless
of whether the employee has specifically requested FMLA leave. Failure
on the University’s part to designate FMLA in a timely manner could
result in the employee taking much more than 12 weeks of leave in a
12 month period, and may result in inconsistent treatment in designating
leaves. Inconsistent treatment can lead to unnecessary morale
problems and claims of discrimination.
How is FMLA Different
from Maternity Leave?
State of Washington family leave act
- The State of Washington Family Leave
Act entitles a female employee to 12 weeks of leave in the first 12
months following the birth of a child, in addition to any leave
needed by the employee prior to the birth for pregnancy related disability
What Happens When an
Employee Returns from FMLA Leave?
- An employee returning from FMLA leave
will be reinstated to the same or an equivalent position, with equivalent
pay, benefits and other terms and conditions of employment. The employee’s
failure to return to work at the end of the approved leave may result
in termination of employment.
- Supervisors must not, in any way,
discriminate against or penalize an employee who is taking, or has taken,