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Time-Off Benefits & Leave Plans (Chapter 5)

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) (Section 515)

In accordance with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA), the college provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of family and medical leave during any 12- month period. FMLA leave may be paid, unpaid, or a combination of paid and unpaid, depending on the circumstances and as specified in this policy. FMLA leave runs concurrently with other college-sponsored leave plans.

Eligibility

In order to qualify for leave under FMLA, you must meet both of the following conditions:

Reasons for Leave

In order to qualify for FMLA leave under this policy, you must be taking the leave for one of the following reasons:

Military Family 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 are eligible for 12 weeks of leave. Employees may use up to 8 weeks of earned sick time during this 12 week period, as well as any earned vacation time, or take leave without pay. During any portion of the leave that is unpaid, employees will be responsible for the cost of their benefits. Qualifying exigencies may include attending certain military events, arranging for alternative childcare, addressing certain financial and legal arrangements, etc.

Military Service Member Illness or Injury

FMLA also includes a special leave entitlement that permits eligible employees to take up to 26 weeks of leave to care for a covered service member during a single 12-month period. Employees may use up to 8 weeks of earned sick time, and 4 weeks of vacation time during the first 12 weeks of this leave; the remainder of the leave is unpaid. During any portion of the leave that is unpaid, employees will be responsible for the cost of their benefits. A covered service member is a current member of the Armed Forces, including a member of the National Guard or Reserves, who had a serious injury or illness incurred in the line of duty while on active duty that may render the service member medically unfit to perform his/her duties for which the service member is undergoing medical treatment, recuperative, or therapy; or is in outpatient status, or is on the military’s temporary disability retired list.

FMLA Leave Entitlement

You may take up to 12 weeks of FMLA leave during any 12-month period. The college will measure the 12-month period as a rolling 12-month period measured back from the date you use any leave under this policy. Each time you take leave, the college will compute the amount of leave you have taken under this policy and subtract it from the 12 weeks of available leave, with the remaining balance as the amount you are entitled to take at that time.

The following leaves will generally count towards your FMLA entitlement:

If you and your spouse both work for the college and each of you wish to take leave for the birth of a child, or due to the placement in your home of a child for adoption or foster care, the two of you together may take a total of 12 weeks of FMLA leave.

Substitution of Paid and Unpaid Leave

If you have accrued paid leave, you must use paid leave first and take the remainder of the 12 weeks as unpaid leave. For example:

Intermittent Leave or a Reduced Work Schedule

For the birth, adoption, or foster care of a child, FMLA leave must be taken over 12 consecutive weeks. Leave for birth, adoption, or foster care of a child must be taken within one year of the birth or placement of the child.

If you are taking leave for your own serious health condition or because of the serious health condition of a family member, you may take FMLA leave in 12 consecutive weeks, use the leave intermittently (take a day periodically when needed over the year), or, under certain circumstances, use the leave to reduce the work week or work day which would result in a reduced-hour work schedule. In all cases, the leave may not exceed a total of 12 weeks over a 12-month period.

You and the college must mutually agree to an intermittent leave or reduced-hour schedule. If an agreement is not possible, you must prove that the use of the leave is medically necessary. The college may require certification of the medical necessity as discussed below.

The college may temporarily transfer you to an available alternative position with equivalent pay and benefits if the alternative position would better accommodate an intermittent or reduced schedule.

Effect of FMLA Leave on Paid Time and Benefits

While on FMLA leave, you continue to earn personal time. You do not accrue sick leave or vacation, and you are not entitled to recess pay, holiday pay, bereavement leave, jury duty leave, or any other paid leave. Upon your return to work, vacation and sick leave accruals will resume at the rates in effect at the time the leave began.

While on FMLA leave, you may continue membership in the college's health care program. The college will continue its contribution during the leave period at the same level and under the same conditions as if you had continued to work. You will be billed for your share of the premiums. If you elect not to return to work for reasons other than a continued serious health condition, you must reimburse the college the amount it contributed for your health insurance premiums during the unpaid FMLA leave period.

You may also retain membership in the college's group dental, life, and long-term disability insurance plans during a FMLA leave. The college will continue its contribution during the leave period at the same level and under the same conditions as if you had continued to work. You will be billed for your share of the premiums. Retirement contributions are not made during unpaid FMLA leave and tuition benefits are normally not available.

Serious Health Condition

You may take leave because of a serious health condition that makes you unable to perform the functions of your position. A serious health condition is defined as a condition which requires inpatient care at a hospital, hospice, or residential medical care facility, or a condition which requires continuing care by a licensed health care provider.

This policy covers illnesses of a serious and long-term nature which would result in recurring or lengthy absences. Generally, a chronic or long-term health condition which, if left untreated, would result in a period of incapacity of more than three days, would be considered a serious health condition. If you have questions about what illnesses are covered under this FMLA policy or under the college's sick leave policy, you are encouraged to consult the Office of Human Resources. The college may require you to provide a doctor's certification of a serious health condition. The certification process is outlined later in this policy.

If you take paid sick leave for a condition that progresses into a serious health condition and you then request unpaid FMLA leave, the college will designate all or some portion of the sick leave as FMLA leave to the extent that the earlier paid leave meets the necessary qualifications.

Medical Certification of a Serious Health Condition

If you request FMLA leave for a serious health condition, the college may ask for medical certification of the condition. You should try to respond to such a request within 15 days of the request or provide a reasonable explanation for the delay. Failure to provide certification may result in a denial of continuation of leave. Medical certification may be provided by submitting the Attending Physician's Statement form available from Human Resources.

Certification of a serious health condition includes the date when the condition began, its expected duration, the diagnosis, and a brief statement of treatment. For medical leave for your own medical condition, the certification must also include a statement that you are unable to perform work of any kind, or a statement that you are unable to perform the essential functions of your position. For a seriously ill family member, the certification must include a statement that the patient requires assistance and that your presence would be beneficial or desirable.

If you plan to take intermittent leave or work a reduced schedule, the certification must also include the dates and duration of treatment and 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 certification from a second doctor selected by the college. If necessary to resolve a conflict between the original certification and the second opinion, the college will require the opinion of a third doctor. The college and you will jointly select the third doctor, and the college will pay for the opinion. This third opinion will be considered final.

Return to Work Certification

To be cleared to return to work (whether full- or part-time) following FMLA leave for personal illness, you must provide your department head with the Physician's Approval to Return to Work form completed by your doctor. The college may require that employees be examined by a college-designated physician before returning to work to ensure fitness for duty.

Procedures for Requesting Leave

When you plan to take leave under this policy, you must give the college 30 days of notice. If it is not possible to give 30 days of notice, you must give as much notice as is practicable. If you are undergoing planned medical treatment, you are required to make a reasonable effort to schedule the treatment to minimize disruptions to the college's operation. If you fail to provide 30 days of 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.

Under this policy you must, except where leave is not foreseeable, submit your request in writing to your immediate supervisor, with a copy to the Office of Human Resources.

While on leave, you are requested to report periodically to the Office of Human Resources regarding the status of the medical condition and your intent to return to work.

Employment Status after FMLA Leave

If you take FMLA leave, you will be able to return to the same job or a job with equivalent status, pay, benefits, and other employment terms. The position will be the same or one which entails equivalent skill, effort, responsibility and authority.

Questions regarding the interpretation of FMLA leave should be directed to the Office of Human Resources.