It is the policy of the college to grant up to 12 weeks or 480 hours (or up to 26 weeks of military caregiver leave to care for a covered service member with a serious injury or illness) of family and medical leave during any 12-month period to eligible employees, in accordance with the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA). The leave may be paid, unpaid or a combination of paid and unpaid leave, depending on the circumstances of the leave and as specified in this policy. The College posts the mandatory FMLA Poster and all employees are provided access to this policy as required by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).
The function of this policy is to provide employees with a general description of their FMLA rights. In the event of any conflict between this policy and the applicable law, employees will be afforded all rights required by law.
If employees have any questions, concerns, or disputes with this policy, they should contact the Office of Human Resources immediately. Faculty should also be in communication with the VPAA/Dean.
Eligibility: In order to qualify to take family or medical leave under this policy, the employee must meet all of the following conditions:
Basic Leave: An eligible employee can take up to 12 weeks (480 hours) of leave under this policy during any 12-month period for the following reasons:
a. Spouse - a husband or wife. Husband or wife refers to the other person with whom an individual entered into marriage.
b. Son or Daughter - a biological, adopted, or foster child, a stepchild, a legal ward, or 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 mental or physical disability.
c. Parent - the biological parent of an employee or an individual who stood in loco parentis to an employee when the employee was a son or daughter.
4. The serious health condition (described below) of the employee that prevents him/her from performing the essential functions of the job, including worker’s compensation leaves.
An employee may take leave because of a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the functions of the employee’s position. A serious health condition is an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves either an overnight stay in a medical care facility, or continuing treatment by a health care provider for a condition that either prevents the associate from performing the functions of the associate’s job, or prevents the qualified family member from participating in school or other daily activities.
Subject to certain conditions, the continuing treatment requirement may be met by a period of incapacity of more than 3 consecutive calendar days combined with at least two visits to a health care provider or one visit and a regimen of continuing treatment, or incapacity due to pregnancy, or incapacity due to a chronic condition. Other conditions may meet the definition of continuing treatment.
Employees with questions about what illnesses are covered under this FMLA policy or under the college's sick leave policy are encouraged to consult with the Office of Human Resources.
If an employee takes paid sick leave for a condition that progresses into a serious health condition and the employee requests unpaid leave as provided under this policy, the college may designate all or some portion of related leave taken as leave under this policy, to the extent that the earlier leave meets the necessary qualifications.
An eligible employee can take up to 12 weeks (480 hours) of leave under this policy during any 12-month period. The college will measure the 12-month period as a rolling 12-month period measured backward from the date an employee uses any leave under this policy. Each time an employee takes leave, the college will compute the amount of leave the employee has taken under this policy during the previous twelve months and subtract it from the 12 weeks of available leave, and the balance remaining is the amount the employee is entitled to take at that time.
If spouses both work for the college, and each wishes to take leave for childbirth or to care for the child after birth, adoption or foster care placement or to care for the child after placement, or to care for the employee’s parent (but not a parent-in-law), the spouses together are limited to only one 12-week period.
Exigency: Eligible employees with a spouse, son, daughter, or parent on active duty or call to active duty status in the National Guard or Reserves in support of a contingency operation may use their 12-week leave entitlement to address certain qualifying exigencies. Qualifying exigencies may include attending certain military events, arranging for alternative childcare, addressing certain financial and legal arrangements, attending certain counseling sessions, and attending post-deployment reintegration briefings. This type of leave would be counted toward the employee’s 12-week maximum of FMLA leave in a 12-month period.
Caregiver: FMLA also includes a special leave entitlement that permits eligible associates to take up to 26 weeks of leave to care for a covered service -member during a single 12-month period. A covered service -member is: (1) a current member of the Armed Forces, including a member of the National Guard or Reserves, who is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation or therapy, is otherwise in outpatient status, or is otherwise on the temporary disability retired list, for a serious injury or illness*; or (2) a veteran who was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable at any time during the five-year period prior to the first date the eligible employee takes FMLA leave to care for the covered veteran, and who is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy for a serious injury or illness.*
*A serious injury or illness is one that was incurred in the line of duty on active duty in the Armed Forces or that existed before the beginning of the member’s active duty and was aggravated by service in the line of duty on active duty in the Armed Forces that may render the service member medically unfit to perform the duties of his or her office, grade, rank, or rating.
An eligible employee can take up to 26 weeks for military caregiver leave during a single 12-month period. For this military caregiver leave only, the college will measure the 12-month period as a rolling 12-month period measured forward. FMLA leave already taken for other FMLA circumstances will be deducted from the total of 26 weeks available. If spouses both work for the college and each wishes to take leave to care for a covered injured or ill service member, the spouses may only take a combined total of 26 weeks of leave.
Employee Status & Benefits During Leave
While on leave, employees are requested to report periodically to his/her supervisor (the VPAA/Dean in the case of faculty) regarding the status of the medical condition and their intent to return to work.
While an employee is on leave, the college will continue the employee’s health benefits during the leave period at the same level and under the same conditions as if the employee had continued to work.
If the employee does not return to work for reasons other than a continued serious health condition of the employee or the employee’s family or a circumstance beyond the employee's control, the college will charge the employee retroactively for the amount it paid for the employee’s health insurance premium during the leave period.
Under current college policy, the employee pays a portion of the health insurance premium. While on paid leave, the employee will continue to make payroll deductions for the employee’s share of the premium. While on unpaid leave, the employee must continue to make his/her share of the health premium, either in person or by mail. The payment should be received in the Controller’s office by the 1st of each month. If the payment is more than 30 days late, the employee’s health care coverage may be dropped for the duration of the leave. The college will provide 15 days’ notification prior to the employee’s loss of coverage.
If the employee contributes to benefit plans, the employer will continue making payroll deductions and while the employee is on paid leave. While the employee is on unpaid leave, the employee may request continuation of such benefits and pay his or her portion of the premiums, or the employer may elect to maintain such benefits during the leave and pay the employee's share of the premium payments. If the employee does not continue these payments, the employer may discontinue coverage during the leave. If the employer elects to maintain such benefits during the leave, at the conclusion of leave the employer may recover the costs incurred for paying the employee's share of any premiums, whether or not the employee returns to work.
Employee Status After Leave
An employee who takes leave under this policy may be asked to provide a fitness for duty (FFD) clearance from the health care provider before returning to work. This requirement will be included in the employer’s response to the FMLA request. An employee who takes leave under this policy will be able to return to the same position or a position with equivalent status, pay, benefits, and working conditions. The college may choose to exempt certain highly compensated employees from this requirement and not return them to the same or similar position.
Use of Paid and Unpaid Leave
The employee must use any available paid sick or vacation if there is a balance of more than 40 hours in their combined banks, concurrently with the family and medical leave; the remainder of the 12 weeks may be unpaid. In addition, any paid disability or unpaid leave provided under other college policies which also qualifies for leave under this policy will be designated as FMLA leave and will run concurrently with the FMLA leave. Unless paid leave is available under another policy, leave under this policy will be unpaid.
The college will designate leave as FMLA leave consistent with applicable law.
Intermittent Leave or a Reduced Work Schedule
The employee may take FMLA leave in 12 consecutive weeks, may use the leave intermittently (take a day periodically when needed over the year), or under certain circumstances, may use the leave to reduce the workweek or workday, resulting in a reduced hour schedule. In all cases, the leave may not exceed a total of 12 work weeks over a 12 month period (or 26 workweeks to care for an injured or ill service member over a 12 month period).
The college may temporarily transfer an employee to an available alternative position with equivalent pay and benefits if the alternative position would better accommodate the intermittent or reduced schedule. If the employee is taking leave for a serious health condition or because of the serious health condition of a family member, the employee should try to reach agreement with the college before taking intermittent leave or working a reduced hour schedule. If this is not possible, then the employee must prove that the use of the leave is medically necessary. The college may require certification of the medical necessity by a health care provider as discussed below.
For the birth, adoption, or foster care of a child, the college and the employee must mutually agree to the schedule before the employee may take the leave intermittently or work a reduced hour schedule. Leave for birth, adoption or foster care of a child must be taken within one year of the birth or placement of the child.
Procedure for Requesting Leave
All employees requesting leave under this policy must provide verbal or written notice of the need for the leave to the Office of Human Resources, who will notify the appropriate supervisor, manager, or vice president. Within five business days after the employee has provided this notice the Office of Human Resources will complete and provide the employee with the DOL Notice of Eligibility and Rights.
When an employee plans to take leave under this policy, the employee must give the college 30 days’ notice for foreseeable leave. If the employee fails to provide 30 days’ notice for foreseeable leave with no reasonable excuse for the delay, the leave request may be denied until at least 30 days from the date the college receives notice. If the leave is not foreseeable, the employee must give as much notice as practicable, and generally must comply with an employer’s normal call-in procedures. An employee who is to undergo planned medical treatment is required to make a reasonable effort to schedule the treatment in order to minimize disruptions to the college’s operations.
Employees must provide sufficient information for the employer to determine if the leave may qualify for FMLA protection and the anticipated timing and duration of the leave. Sufficient information may include that the employee is unable to perform job functions, the family member is unable to perform daily activities, the need for hospitalization or continuing treatment by a health care provider, or circumstances supporting the need for military family leave. Employees also must inform the employer if the requested leave is for a reason for which FMLA leave was previously taken or certified. Employees also may be required to provide a certification and periodic recertification supporting the need for leave.
Certification of the Serious Health Condition
The college will ask for medical certification of the serious health condition or of the need for Military FMLA leave. The college uses the DOL’s certification forms. The employee is required to return the certification to the college within 15 days of the request, or provide a reasonable explanation for the delay. Failure to provide certification may result in denial of the continuation of leave.
Certification of the serious health condition shall include: the date when the condition began, its expected duration, and a brief statement of treatment. For medical leave for the employee’s own medical condition, the certification must also include a statement that the employee is unable to perform work of any kind or a statement that the employee is unable to perform the essential functions of the employee’s position. For a family member who is seriously ill, the certification must include a statement that the patient, the family member, requires assistance and that the employee’s presence would be beneficial or desirable.
If the employee plans to take intermittent leave or work a reduced schedule, the certification must also include dates and the duration of treatment as well as a statement of medical necessity for taking intermittent leave or working a reduced schedule.
The college has the right to ask for a second opinion if it has reason to doubt the certification. The college will pay for the employee to get a certification from a second health care provider, which the college will select. If necessary to resolve a conflict between the original certification and the second opinion, the college will require the opinion of a third health care provider. The college and the employee will mutually select the third health care provider, and the college will pay for the third opinion. This third opinion will be considered final. The employee will be provisionally entitled to leave and benefits under the FMLA pending the second and/or third opinion.
The college may request recertification for the serious health condition of the employee or the employee’s family member no more frequently than every 30 days and only when circumstances have changed significantly, or if the employer receives information casting doubt on the reason given for the absence, or if the employee seeks an extension of his or her leave. Otherwise, the college may request recertification for the serious health condition of the employee or the employee’s family member every six months in connection with an FMLA absence. The college may provide the employee’s health care provider with the employee’s attendance records and ask whether need for leave is consistent with the employee’s serious health condition.
Designation of Leave
Within five business days after the employee has submitted the appropriate certification form, the Office of Human Resources will complete and provide the employee with a written response to the employee’s request for FMLA leave using the DOL Designation Notice.
Return to Work
The college may require an employee on FMLA leave to report periodically on the employee’s status and intent to return to work. The employee should notify his or her supervisor of intent to return to work or of any medically necessary changes in the date of return two (2) weeks prior to the anticipated date of return. If the leave was due to the employee’s serious health condition, the college may require a “fitness for duty” certification from the employee’s health care provider, verifying ability to return to work, with or without restrictions.
If the employee returns to work on or before the expiration of available FMLA leave, the employee will be returned to his/her former position or an equivalent job. If however, the employee does not return prior to the expiration of FMLA leave, there is no guarantee of reinstatement. If the employee is medically released to return to work and fails to either report to work or call in with a satisfactory explanation, the college will treat this as a voluntary resignation.
Retaliation and Other Prohibited Acts
Any retaliatory conduct toward an employee who requests and/or is taking leave under this policy is prohibited by the college. Furthermore, any retaliatory conduct toward an employee is a violation of this policy and individual(s) who engage in such behavior may be subject to sanctions and/or discipline, up to, and including termination from employment.
The FMLA makes it unlawful for any employer to:
• interfere with, restrain, or deny the exercise of any right provided under FMLA; and
• discharge or discriminate against any person for opposing any practice made unlawful by FMLA or for involvement in any proceeding under or relating to FMLA.
An employee may file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor or may bring a private lawsuit against an employer if the employee believes his/her rights were violated. FMLA does not affect any Federal or State law prohibiting discrimination, or supersede any State or local law or collective bargaining agreement which provides greater family or medical leave rights.
Pregnancy Disability Leave
An employee who is disabled by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions may take a leave of absence for the period the employee is disabled by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, up to eight weeks. After any available paid time off is exhausted, the remainder of this leave is unpaid. Central College may require a medical certification from the employee stating the employee is not able to reasonably perform the duties of employment. Pregnancy disability leave runs concurrently with any other leave to which the employee is entitled (including but not limited to available FMLA leave).