Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

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Understand

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that provides eligible employees the right to take up to twelve work weeks or 480 hours of unpaid, job-protected leave for qualifying family or medical reasons. The leave may be approved either on a continuous basis or an intermittent basis.

To be eligible for FMLA an employee must have worked for a covered employer for at least 12 month and have at least 1,250 hours of service and have one of the following qualifying conditions:

  • The birth of a child and to bond with the newborn within one year of the birth,
  • The placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care and to bond with the newly-placed child within one year of placement,
  • A serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the functions of their job, including incapacity due to pregnancy and for prenatal medical care,
  • To care for the employee's spouse, son, daughter, or parent who has a serious health condition, including incapacity due to pregnancy and for prenatal medical care,
  • Any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee's spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a military member on covered active duty or called to cover active duty status.

In addition, twenty-six workweeks of leave can be provided during a single 12-month period to care for a covered service member with a serious injury or illness if the eligible employee is the service member's spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin (military caregiver leave).

  • Intermittent leave will be approved in a rolling 12-month period. The employee needs to be re-certified and re-approved at the start of each rolling 12-month year. The DES Leave Administrator will check the employee's eligibility every year only for lifelong intermittent leave.
  • If an employee has multiple qualifying events, they are still limited to 12 weeks (480 hours) within the 12-month period. The 12-month period begins at the start of the first request for FMLA, and employees may take up to a maximum of 12 weeks for any additional qualifying incidents within 12 months of that date.
  • On a monthly basis, the DES Leave Administrator will track FMLA hours in order to monitor remaining FMLA hours available to the employee. The DES Leave Administrator will notify employees and their supervisors if the employee is approaching maximum hours (480) , if the employee has exhausted their FMLA hours and/or if the employee's FMLA year end is approaching.

Employee: Notifies HR Liaison, Supervisor, or DES Leave Administrator that they need FMLA

HR Liaison or Supervisor: Notifies the DES Leave Administrator that an employee has been out for three or more days, or is planning to be out for medical reasons.

  1. The DES Leave Administrator will evaluate the employee's eligibility. An employee must have worked 1,250 hours in the last 12 months.
  2. The DES Leave Administrator will provide the employee and CC the supervisor the required documentation depending on whether the employee is eligible or not.
  3. If the employee is found to be eligible, they may be required to complete and return a medical certificate within 15 business days.
  4. The DES Leave Administrator will send communication and required documents to both the employee and supervisor throughout the interactive FMLA process.
  5. The DES Leave Administrator will forward all communication and required documentation to the HR Liaison to place in the employee's medical file. These documents may include:
  • Notice of Rights and Responsibilities
  • Designation Notice
  • FMLA Medical Certification
  • Email or USPS mail communication with employee
  • Completed PPDS form to place employee on and take employee off FMLA leave
  • Fit for Duty letter, if required
  1. The DES HRMS Specialist will adjust dates accordingly if the employee was on LWOP for 15+ days and send paperwork to the HR Liaison.

Supervisor:

  • Make sure employees are aware of their FMLA rights and their ability to take FMLA.
  • Keep open lines of communication with employees
    • Employees do not need to mention FMLA in order to initiate the process.
    • If you are aware that an employee is experiencing one of the qualifying circumstances, you must begin the FMLA process.
  • If you are submitting leave on behalf of your employee, ensure it is coded accurately.
  • If you are approving leave, ensure the absence is due to the approved FMLA condition.
  • Time covered by FMLA should never be considered poor attendance in a performance evaluation nor should the employee be disciplined due to their use of FMLA.

How will I know if my employee needs FMLA?

If an employee is absent from work for 3 or more days or has talked of an upcoming surgery for themselves, or the need to care for an immediate family member following a medical procedure, inform the employee that they may be eligible for FMLA and ask if they would like the forms sent to them. The employee does have the right to say no if they do not feel the coverage is necessary.

If you notice that the employee is using more leave than their medical provider anticipated, reach out to the DES Leave Administrator . The DES Leave Administrator will take necessary steps to obtain updated documentation when necessary.

Employee:

  • Employee notice can be oral or written to the employer.
    • First request: the employee is not required to specifically mention the need for FMLA.
    • They are required to provide enough information for the employer to determine if they are eligible for FMLA.
    • Subsequent requests: the employee may be required to reference a reason for FMLA.
  • Leave that is foreseeable:
    • Employees are required to provide 30 days advance notice to the employer for leave that is foreseeable (ex: scheduled surgery).
  • Leave that is unforeseeable:
    • Employees are required to provide notice as soon as possible and practical for leave that is unforeseeable. 

HR Liaison:

  • Maintain confidentiality of employee's medical paperwork and maintain the agency's medical files.
  • File medical paperwork in the employee's medical file as the DES Leave Administrator sends it to you.

DES Leave Administrator:

Full administration of FMLA to include:

  • Determine employee's eligibility
  • Providing required communication and forms to the employee
  • Keeping the supervisor informed by including them in the communications
  • Continiously monitoring employee FMLA leave usage
  • Communicating with the employee when the leave year end is approaching or if they are approaching their maximum allowable FMLA hours.

If you have any questions, please contact your HR Business Partner or the DES Leave Administrator.