Southwestern

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University Policies


Family and Medical Leave Act

Family and Medical Leave Act Policy And Procedure
Leave Under The Family And Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”)

Employee Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for a leave, you must have worked for Southwestern University for at least 12 (consecutive or non-consecutive) months and you must have worked at least 1250 hours during that 12-month period prior to the FMLA leave commencement.

Events Which May Entitle An Employee To FMLA Leave

Eligible employees may be entitled to unpaid FMLA for one or more of the following reasons:

  • The birth and care of the newborn child of an employee (16 weeks)
  • The placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care (16 weeks)
  • To care for the employee’s spouse, child, or parent (but not in-law), who has a serious health condition (12 weeks)
  • For a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the employee’s job (12 weeks)
  • To care for an active member of the Armed Forces, including a member of the National Guard or Reserves (or who has been notified of an impending call to active duty status), 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.  (26 weeks)   Eligible employees are considered spouse, son, daughter, parent or next of kin.

A “serious health condition” is an injury, illness, impairment or physical or mental condition that involves inpatient care or continuing treatment by a health care provider.

How Much FMLA Leave May Be Taken

An eligible employee may take up to 12 weeks for his/her own serious health condition; to care for a spouse, child or parent, 16 weeks of unpaid leave for the birth or adoption of a child, or 26 weeks to care for a qualified member of the Armed Forces during the “12-month period” for any one, or combination, of the above described situations.  The “12-month period” in which the 12/16 workweeks (depending on the circumstances) of FMLA may be taken is the 12-month period measured backward from the date an employee uses any FMLA leave (Rolling Backward Method).  The military caregiver leave is available during “a single 12-month period” during which an eligible employee is entitled to a combined total of 26 weeks of all types of FMLA leave.

Before an eligible employee may take unpaid FMLA leave, SouthwesternUniversity will first substitute for unpaid FMLA leave at least 75% accrued sick leave followed by at least 75% accrued vacation leave.  Once all accrued sick leave and vacation leave is exhausted, or at least the required 75% accrued sick and vacation leave is exhausted, the balance of the 12/16 workweek period will be unpaid.

Any qualifying accrued paid leave, or unpaid FMLA leave, which is approved for FMLA benefits will be charged against an employee’s outstanding FMLA leave entitlement.

FMLA leave for childbirth and care or placement for adoption or foster care must conclude within 12 months after birth or placement.

Furthermore, if a husband and wife are both employed at SouthwesternUniversity, they can together take only a combined total of 16 weeks of FMLA leave within the “12-month period” for any birth or adoption which they can split between them in any proportions.  Any such leave taken by each employee shall be charged against that employee’s available 12 weeks of FMLA leave for his/her own serious health condition or to care for a child or spouse with a serious health condition.

Medical Certification

Southwestern University requires an employee seeking leave for any medical purpose (except childbirth) to submit medical documentation on the “Certification of Health Care Provider” form in the following situations:

  • An initial request for personal or family medical leave (except childbirth or placement, in which case a birth certificate may be required), including justification for any requested intermittent or reduced schedule FMLA leave;
  • Before the employee returns to work from leave for a serious health condition to ensure the employee is fit for duty; 
  • If Southwestern University has paid the employee’s health care premiums during the FMLA leave and the employee does not return from such leave due to the employee’s own or a spouse’s, child’s or parent’s continuing serious health condition.

SouthwesternUniversity may also require employees to provide re-certifications of their health status from the employee’s health care providers on a regular basis during such FMLA leave.

If SouthwesternUniversity has reason to doubt the employee’s health care provider’s initial certification, it can seek clarification through its own provider and/or require the employee to undergo a second examination by an independent, SouthwesternUniversity designated provider, at the University’s expense.

If a disagreement exists between the employee’s and Southwestern University’s designated health care providers, the matter will be resolved by a third, jointly selected provider, at the University’s expense, whose decision will be final and binding for that particular leave request.

How FMLA Leave Is Requested And Scheduled

Employees seeking to use FMLA leave are required to provide a 30-day advance notice of the need to take FMLA leave when the need is foreseeable and such notice is practicable.  A Request for Family Medical Leave form is available in the Human Resources department.

The employee will be notified that the leave has been designated FMLA leave before it starts, or before an extension of leave is granted, unless SouthwesternUniversity does not have sufficient information as to the reason for the leave until after it commences.

Employees should provide at least 30 days’ notice, or such shorter notice as is practicable, for foreseeable childbirth, placement or any planned medical treatment for the employee or his/her spouse, child or parent.  Medical certification as described should accompany such notice (except for childbirth or placement).

Employees must make reasonable effort to schedule foreseeable planned medical treatments so as not to unduly disrupt SouthwesternUniversity’s operations.

In cases of leave for the employee’s own serious health condition or that of a spouse, child or parent, the eligible employee may take FMLA leave intermittently or on a reduced schedule leave for foreseeable planned medical treatment, Southwestern University may temporarily transfer the employee to an alternative position, for which the employee is qualified, which has equivalent compensation and benefits, and which better accommodates such irregular leave.  Intermittent and reduced schedule leave is not available for leave following the birth or placement of a child.

Benefits While On FMLA

If an employee on FMLA is using sick leave or vacation leave he/she is in a pay status and all benefits continue.  Once all paid leave is exhausted and the FMLA becomes an unpaid leave then the University is only responsible for maintaining the employee’s health insurance and the University’s portion of life insurance premiums.

Under FMLA, SouthwesternUniversity will maintain coverage under its group health plan for the duration of an employee’s FMLA leave at the level and under the conditions such coverage would have been provided if the employee had continued in employment continuously for such duration.  In addition, the University will continue its portion of the life insurance premiums so that life insurance coverage is maintained.

For the portion of FMLA leave which is unpaid, the employee is responsible for payment of his/her portion of insurance premiums during such leave, as if he/she were still on the payroll.  Employees will be provided with advance notice of the costs and schedule for such insurance premium payments when he/she returns to work.

If the employee does not return to work from scheduled FMLA leave, except because of his/her own or a spouse’s, child’s or parent’s serious health condition or another circumstance beyond the employee’s control, the University may consider the employee to have voluntarily resigned and recover all health premiums it paid on the employee’s behalf during any unpaid FMLA leave.  SouthwesternUniversity may require medical certification of any such alleged continued serious health condition.

Only health benefits will be maintained while on FMLA, arrangements will have to be made with the Human Resources Office regarding payment of various benefits and the termination of others.

Employee Reinstatement From Leave

An employee is entitled to return from qualifying FMLA leave to the same or an equivalent position with equivalent benefits, pay and other terms and conditions of employment, and without loss of job seniority or any other status or benefits accrued prior to FMLA leave, if all FMLA requirements are met and provided the employee would still be employed if FMLA leave had not been taken.

Seniority and benefits other than group health care do not accrue during unpaid FMLA leave.

Limitations On Reinstatement

Certain “key employees” may be denied reinstatement if necessary to prevent substantial and grievous economic injury to Southwestern University’s operations.  A key employee is a salaried eligible employee who is among the highest paid 10% of all employees at any covered worksite.  An employee will be advised at the time of a request for or commencement of, FMLA leave, or as soon thereafter as is practicable, that he/she qualifies as a key employee and that reinstatement may be denied if the University decides that substantial and grievous economic injury to its operations would occur if the employee elects not to return to employment.

An employee who gives notice of intent not to return to work will be considered to have voluntarily resigned.  Such notice may be a qualifying event entitling the employee to continuation of health care coverage under COBRA.

In addition, any employee who, besides for reasons other than the continuation, recurrence or onset of a serious health condition or other circumstances beyond the control of the employee, does not return to work from FMLA is obligated to reimburse the institution for the premium the institution paid for maintaining coverage on the institution’s health plan. 

Further Information 

For further information on FMLA leave, contact the Human Resources department.

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