Absence and Leaves for Personal Medical, Family Medical, Parenting, and Family Military Service Member Reasons Under the Family and Medical Leave Act

Policy no. IV-8
Effective date: 1/1/2014
Scope: All full-time and part-time benefits eligible faculty and staff
Exclusions: Student employees, temporary employees
Definitions: (See Introduction to Compensation and Benefits)

FMLA LEAVE

The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) requires CWRU to provide up to 12 work weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to “eligible” employees for certain family and personal medical reasons.  To be “eligible” for FMLA leave, an employee must meet the following minimum requirements: be employed by CWRU at least 12 months prior to the commencement of the leave and have worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12-month period prior to the leave.  The general FMLA provisions are posted in the Human Resources Department, Room 304 Crawford Hall and the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity, Room 310 Adelbert Hall.

The university recognizes that employees need to tend to both personal medical and family medical concerns in a constructive manner in order to be fully productive.  Therefore, the university provides a measure of stability through benefit protection and a reasonable allowance for paid and unpaid time off of work. The amount of paid sick time that an employee is eligible to receive does not constitute the amount of leave time an employee is granted.

An employee may draw upon the 12-week allowance either intermittently or in total over a 12-month period based on eligibility date.  “Eligibility date” refers to the date of the employee’s first FMLA leave within the previous 12 months.  For example, if an employee has taken 8 weeks of leave during the past 12 months, an additional 4 weeks of leave may be taken.  If an employee has used 4 weeks beginning February 1, 4 weeks beginning June 1, and 4 weeks beginning December 1, the employee would not be entitled to any additional FMLA leave until after February 1, of the following year.  Under the university’s leave policy, “family” includes the employee’s spouse as recognized in the state of Ohio, son, daughter, parent or guardian, and domestic partner who has met the requirements for receipt of domestic partner benefits under CWRU’s policy.

Personal Medical, Family Medical, and Parenting Reasons

This policy applies to leaves for: (1) parenting, (refers to care and nurturing for a new child as a result of childbirth, adoption, or foster custody, unrelated to a medical condition), (2) serious health condition of a family member, or (3) serious health condition of the employee (including: Workers’ Compensation or a serious health condition related to pregnancy and/or childbirth).  This policy will also apply to intermittent leave requests (such as pre-scheduled time off for medical appointments) or reduced leave schedule, when medically necessary.  Intermittent leave or a reduced leave schedule for placement, adoption, or foster care of a child must be approved  by the supervisor in consultation with Employee Relations.  Intermittent leave  for the birth and care of a child (except for pregnancy-related leave that would be leave for a serious health condition)  also must be approved  by  the supervisor in consultation with Employee Relations.  Intermittent leave for parenting must be completed within 12 months of the date of birth or placement of a child.  Employees, who require intermittent leave or a reduced leave schedule, must try to schedule their leaves so that they will not disrupt the department’s operations.

The annual maximum leave time for personal medical leave for a serious medical condition of the employee is 12 weeks within a 12-month period.  However, the maximum allowed time may be affected by other leaves taken within the same 12-month period.  If a staff employee is unable to return to work for any period of time after 12 weeks from the “eligibility date”, employment with the university ends as a voluntary termination, unless the employee has requested and is granted additional leave time for a documented disability (via the disability accommodation process coordinated by the Office of Inclusion, Diversity & Equal Opportunity), is granted a non-FMLA leave, or qualifies for long-term disability.  If the employee wishes to return to the university after 12 weeks, he or she must reapply for a position with the university to be rehired with the University.

When the employee requests a leave for parenting or family medical reasons, the annual maximum leave time will be 12 weeks within a 12-month period.  However, the maximum allowed time may be affected by other leaves taken within the same 12-month period.  Parenting leaves must be completed within 12 months of the date of birth or placement of a child.

If two employees are seeking leave for the birth and care of the same newborn child, foster care placement or adoption, (i.e., a husband and wife or domestic partners who are both employees), the employee and their spouse (as recognized by the state of Ohio) or domestic partner (who has met the requirements for receipt of domestic partner benefits at CWRU) are limited to a total of 12 weeks combined for the birth and care of the same newborn child, foster care placement, or adoption of a child.  For other qualifying reasons under FMLA, each eligible spouse or domestic partner is entitled to 12 weeks.

Family Military Service Member Reasons

This policy applies to leaves for (1) family members of military service members due to any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the spouse, child, or parent of the employee is on covered active duty (or has been notified of an impending call or order to active duty) in the National Guard and Reserves and the Regular Armed Forces in support of a contingency operation, or (2) family members (spouse, child, parent, or next of kin - meaning nearest blood relative) of military service members when caring for a service member’s serious injury or illness incurred in the line of duty on active duty. Covered active duty requires deployment to a foreign country.

When the employee requests a military service member family leave for qualifying exigencies for a spouse, child, or parent, the annual maximum leave time is for a combined total of 12 weeks based on other leaves taken during the previous 12-month period.

When the employee requests a military service member family leave to care for a service member’s serious injury or illness incurred in the line of duty on covered active duty, the maximum leave time is a combined total of 26 work weeks of leave based on other leaves taken during a single 12-month period.  This means that if an employee also has some other FMLA-qualifying event in that 12-month period, his or her total amount of FMLA leave during that 12-month period is still limited to 26 weeks.  This also means that even if the service member’s recovery lasts longer than the initial 12 months, the 26 weeks of service member family leave cannot be renewed, and the employee would not be eligible for an additional 26 weeks of service member family leave in the following 12 month period.  The request for a service member family leave to care for the service member may be taken intermittently or on a reduced leave schedule.

For military service members seeking FMLA leave, the protections afforded by the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) extend to all military members (active duty and reserve), and all periods of absence from work due to or necessitated by USERRA-covered service is counted in determining an employee’s eligibility for FMLA leave.

Paid Leaves and Unpaid Leaves

The allowance for paid time during the personal medical or family medical (including family military service member leave) leave is shown in Policy IV-9 and IV-10.  Employees on personal medical leave must use all unused sick days and all unused vacation days prior to commencing an unpaid personal medical leave.  Employees may use up to 12 sick days annually (minus any sick days they may have taken for bereavement, parenting for foster care, or family illness not covered by  FMLA leave) for family medical or family military service member leave.  See Paid Parental Leave Policy IV-14 for paid time allowances for parenting leaves for childbirth and/or adoption.  Employees must also use all unused vacation days prior to commencing an unpaid family medical, parenting, or family military service member leave.  However, employees may not be required to use sick days or vacation days during periods of Workers’ Compensation leave.  Category 2 and Category 3 employees who are on a personal medical leave for more than fourteen (14) consecutive calendar days should apply for short-term disability benefits.  Employees who are out on a personal medical leave for more than twenty-six (26) weeks may be eligible for long-term disability benefits; Category 2 and Category 3 employees must first be receiving short-term disability benefits in order for the insurance carrier to consider them for long-term disability benefits.  The effectiveness of this leave policy depends on the employee's appropriate use of leave time.

Employees on paid leave will remain in their Benelect program according to Benelect plan provisions and will continue to accrue service time toward benefits based on active service.  Employees on an unpaid leave for personal medical, family medical (including service member family leave for qualifying exigency), or parenting reasons must have used all unused sick and vacation day allowances; they will remain in the Benelect program for 12 weeks according to Benelect plan provisions, and will not accrue service time except toward their retirement plan vesting.  Employees on an unpaid family military service member leave for serious illness or injury of a service member incurred in the line of covered active duty while on active duty must have used all unused sick and vacation day allowances; they will remain in the Benelect program for 26 weeks according to Benelect plan provisions, and will not accrue service time except toward their retirement plan vesting.  When the employee returns from unpaid leave, an adjustment will be made to their paycheck for Benelect employee contributions payments made on their behalf.

Notification of Leave

The employee ordinarily must provide 30 days’ advance notice when the leave is “foreseeable.”  If the leave is not foreseeable, notice must be given as soon as practicable.  Medical certification of the need for the leave and fitness for duty certification following the leave provided by the employee’s (or family member’s) health care provider is required for for (1) personal medical, family medical (including injury or serious illness of military service family members incurred in the line of duty while on covered active duty), or parenting leave requests of more than 5 consecutive working days for the same serious health condition, and (2) all intermittent leave requests of any duration.  For military exigencies of a service member, documentation from the United States government for the family member, with the details of the call to active duty, is required.  Any healthcare provider authorized to complete a medical certification for other types of FMLA leave may  provide medical certification for military caregiver leave.

Reinstatement - Personal Medical, Family Medical, and Parenting Reasons

The university will hold the FMLA-eligible employee’s position, or an equivalent position, for 12 weeks during any personal medical, family medical, or parenting leave during a 12-month period. If the 12 weeks have not been exceeded when the employee returns from leave, the university will return the employee to the same position or an equivalent position.  Highly compensated employees, the top 10%, may not be able to return to the same or similar position.

The supervisor is responsible for determining how to continue quality operations while the employee's position, or equivalent position, is being held for 12 weeks.  If a leave exceeds 12 weeks, the Human Resources Department will attempt to assist the employee in finding  a comparable position.  However, Human Resources cannot guarantee that the employee will be placed in any position at CWRU after 12 weeks.  If an employee does not return to work and the employee is not granted any additional leave under the Other Leaves Policy (IV-11) or for a documented disability (via the disability accommodation process coordinated by the Office of Inclusion, Diversity & Equal Opportunity), or is not on the inactive status period, (see below), employment ends as a voluntary termination effective the last day of the approved leave.  An employee is not entitled to reinstatement to his/her position while in the inactive status period (see below).

Reinstatement - Family Military Service Member Reasons

The university will hold the position, or an equivalent position, of the eligible employee for military service member family leave for a qualifying exigency for a combined total of 12 weeks during a 12-month period.  The university will hold the position, or an equivalent position, of the eligible employee for military service member family leave to care for a service member’s serious injury or illness incurred in the line of duty for a combined total of 26 weeks during any 12-month period.  This means that if an employee also has some other FMLA-qualifying event in that 12-month period, the maximum period which the employee’s position is held during that 12-month period is still limited to 26 weeks.  This also means that even if the service member’s recovery lasts longer than the initial 12 months, the 26 weeks of service member family leave cannot be renewed, and the employee would not be eligible for an additional 26 weeks of job protection in the following 12-month period.

The supervisor is responsible for determining how to continue quality operations while the employee's position, or equivalent position, is being held for 12 or 26 weeks if applicable.  If a leave exceeds 12 (or 26) weeks and if the supervisor has proceeded with a replacement, the Human Resources Department will attempt to assist the employee in finding a comparable position.  However, Human Resources cannot guarantee that the employee will be placed in any position at CWRU after 12 (or 26) weeks.  If an employee does not return to work and the employee is not granted any additional leave under the Other Leaves Policy (IV-11) or for a documented disability (via the disability accommodation process coordinated by the Office of Inclusion, Diversity & Equal Opportunity), or is not on the inactive status period, (see below), employment ends as a voluntary termination effective the last day of the approved leave.

Inactive Status Period

If an employee is on an approved paid or unpaid personal medical leave more than 12 weeks (or 26 weeks for a military service member family leave), the employee is considered on inactive status.  The inactive status period is a period in which an employee is not entitled to reinstatement to his/her position but during which approved personal medical leave may continue for up to 26 weeks so that an employee who is eligible may apply for long-term disability benefits at 26 weeks.  The employee will remain on the inactive status period as long as the personal medical leave is approved.  The inactive status period ends and employment ends when the employee who has been out more than 12 weeks (or 26 weeks for a military service member family leave) is 1) no longer on an approved personal medical leave or 2) becomes eligible to receive long-term disability benefits.

Policy Administration: Joint responsibility of supervisor with Employee Relations Office.

Reference Family and Medical Leave Act 1993, Workers' Compensation (I-6, 6a), Administering Leaves for Personal Medical, Family Medical, and Parenting Reasons Under Family and Medical Leave Act Procedure (IV-8a), Sick Days Policies (IV-9 and IV-10), Other Leaves (IV-11), Paid Parental Leave, (IV-14).