Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA): Overview

Effective Date:

March 8, 2013

Function:

Human Resources

Contact:

hra@rfsuny.org

Basis for Procedure

This document provides an overview of the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA). The FMLA is a federal law that requires certain employers to allow eligible employees to take up to 12 (under some circumstances 26) weeks of unpaid job-protected leave during a 12-month period for various health and family-related reasons which are described in more detail below.

The Research Foundation (RF) is subject to the requirements of the FMLA.

Procedure Summary

Eligibility and Duration

To be eligible for leave under FMLA, an employee must have at least 12 months of service and must have worked at least 1250 hours over the previous 12 months.

12 Months Of Service

Once an employee has completed 12 months of service with an employer, the first FMLA eligibility requirement is satisfied for however long the employee works for that employer, even if the employee leaves and then returns. A break-in-service of less than 7 years has no effect on fulfillment of this requirement. The 12 months of service requirement will begin again after a break in service of 7 years.

1250 Hours Over the Previous 12 Months

The second requirement refers to only the 12 months prior to the requested leave period under FMLA, and time off the payroll is included in that 12-month period. Regardless of any prior service, if an employee is off of the payroll for a period of time that brings the number of hours worked by the employee during the prior 12 months below 1250 hours, the employee will not be eligible for leave under FMLA.

Example

If an employee requests leave under FMLA on January 1, 1995, but worked only 1210 hours during 1994, the employee would not be eligible.

Note: If after working another week the employee would have worked 1250 hours during the 12 months prior to January 8, the employee would be eligible.

Duration

Under FMLA, eligible employees are entitled to a maximum of 12 weeks (26 weeks for military caregiver leave) of leave during a 12-month period. The 12-month period begins at the start of the leave period. For example, an employee who begins leave under FMLA as of 8/5/07 would be eligible for the next 12-week leave entitlement as of 8/5/08.

When both spouses are employed by the Research Foundation and both are eligible under FMLA, the entitlement for the two employees is a combined total of 12 weeks leave per 12-month period for birth of a child or placement for adoption or foster care.

Reasons Leave May Be Taken

Under FMLA, eligible employees may take 12 weeks of leave for the following events:

Under FMLA, eligible employees may take up to 26 weeks of leave during a single 12-month period to care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness.

Eligible employees include a spouse, son, daughter, parent or next of kin of a covered service member. Next of kin is defined as the nearest blood relative (other than spouse, parent, son or daughter).

A covered servicemember is either:

Employer Requirements

Employers are required to notify employees of their rights under FMLA and approve eligible requests for FMLA leave (see FMLA: Notification and Procedure for Leave Taken Under FMLA).

Employee Requirements

Employees must apply for leave and for continuation of benefits on the appropriate forms/certifications (FMLA: Request for Leave Forms and Posted Notices). Employees should give 30 days notice when possible.

Employees who elect to continue health insurance must pay their share of the premiums, and if they elect to continue life insurance, they must pay the full premium.

Employee Options For Taking Leave

Employees may take leave under FMLA in the form of an unpaid absence from work of up to 12 weeks (26 weeks for military caregiver leave), or, with the approval of the operating location, in one of the following ways.

Intermittent Leave/Reduced Work Schedule

An employee may take leave intermittently or on a reduced work schedule if the leave is certified as medically necessary by a health care provider to care for a seriously ill family member or because of the employee's own serious health condition. An employee may not take leave intermittently or on a reduced work schedule for the birth or placement of a child.

Status of Exempt Employees On Reduced Work Schedule

Employees who are eligible for leave under FMLA and exempt from the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act may be placed on unpaid FMLA leave on a reduced work schedule without affecting their exempt status. Therefore, an exempt employee's salary may be reduced for absences of less than a day if she or he takes leave under FMLA for part of the workday. However, operating locations are instructed to review these instances with the Central Office of Administration and Human Resources to ensure that they fall within the limited exclusions allowed by the FMLA.

Use of Accrued Paid Leave

An employee who takes leave under FMLA may elect to use accrued paid leave for any part of the leave. If the employee elects to use accruals while on leave under FMLA, leave must be charged in the increments indicated in the RF's Leave Policy.

Employees may charge up to the FTE that they were at prior to going on FMLA. For example, an employee who was working at .50FTE may charge up to .50FTE while out on FMLA, and an employee previously at 1.0FTE may charge up to 1.0FTE.

The following table describes the paid leave categories to be charged for various kinds of leave under FMLA.

Purpose of Leave Under FMLA

Accrued Leave to be Charged

Birth of a child

Sick must be charged during period of disability; if applicable, then vacation, personal or holiday may be used for the remainder of the leave (NYS Disability Benefits).

Adoption, Foster Care

Vacation, Personal or Holiday

Care for a Family Member

Family Sick (maximum of 15 days), Vacation, Personal or Holiday

Employee's Serious Health Condition

Sick must be charged until exhausted, then vacation, personal or holiday may be used for the remainder of the disability period (NYS Disability Benefits).

Qualifying Exigency

Vacation, Personal or Holiday

Care for Military Service Member

Family Sick (if applicable, maximum of 15 days), Vacation, Personal or Holiday

Reinstatement

Employers must reinstate an employee to his or her former position or an equivalent position with equivalent pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions of appointment.

Note: FMLA leave cannot be approved beyond the appointment period.

However, under FMLA, a "key employee" may be denied restoration to a position when to do so would result in a "substantial and grievous economic injury" to operations. A key employee is a salaried employee who is among the highest paid 10 percent of all employees within a 75 mile radius of the worksite. Because of the limited nature of this exception, recommendations not to reinstate an employee must be reviewed by the Central Office of Administration and Human Resources and the Office of General Counsel prior to the final determination.

Benefits

Continuation of Benefits

Employers must allow employees to continue group health plan coverage at the same level and on the same terms as prior to the leave. For Research Foundation (RF) employees, this includes dental and vision insurance benefits.

Research Foundation employees also have the option of continuing their life insurance coverage under the terms outlined in Benefits – Continuation of Coverage.

Reinstatement of Benefits

All employment benefits are immediately reinstated to the employee upon return to work, without waiting periods, regardless of whether the benefit was continued during leave, and are continued as if the employee had been in pay status during the leave period.

Payment of Premiums

During periods of approved leave under FMLA, an employee will be responsible for payment of the employee share of health insurance premiums. The employee may also elect to continue basic and/or optional life insurance coverage through payment of the full premium.

Premiums must be paid in advance while on leave. Full payment can be deducted from the last paycheck if payment of the health premium on a pre-tax basis if desired, or advance payments can be paid monthly or biweekly. The premiums are listed in Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) - Biweekly Premiums for Continuation of Benefits for Regular Employees.

If payment is not received within 30 days of the due date, coverage will be canceled.

Employees Continuing on Leave Without Pay

An employee continuing on Leave Without Pay (LWOP) under Research Foundation leave policy (a combined maximum of one year), should contact the office at the operating location that handles employee benefits for information on premium payment under LWOP.

Recovery of Premiums Paid if Employee Does Not Return to Work

If an employee does not return to work after leave after FMLA expires, the full share of the premium paid by the Research Foundation can be recovered. An exception is made if the employee does not return because of circumstances beyond the control of the employee.

NYS Disability

If a person takes NYS disability leave and is eligible for leave under FMLA, then all or some of the time spent on disability must also be counted concurrently as leave under FMLA.

Amount of Time Counted Concurrently

The maximum amount of time that must be counted concurrently is equal to the amount of leave the employee is entitled to under FMLA, that is, 12 weeks unless the employee has already taken some leave under FMLA during the appropriate 12-month period. If the employee has already taken some leave under FMLA, then the maximum amount of time that must be counted concurrently is equal to the remaining amount of leave to which the employee is entitled under FMLA.

Reinstatement

If a person taking leave under such circumstances returns to work before or immediately after the person has used all the leave to which he or she is entitled under FMLA, the person must be reinstated under the terms of FMLA. If the person continues on disability beyond that time period, the reinstatement requirements related to NYS disability must be followed.

Retirement Plan

An employee's time spent on leave under FMLA will be counted toward vesting in the retirement plan when it is necessary to prevent a break-in-service which would affect the employee's retirement benefits. However, no contribution will be made for any period during which the employee is not in pay status.

Multiple Locations

If an employee has appointments at two locations, the offices responsible for Research Foundation personnel at the locations must work cooperatively to ensure that any leave taken by the employee under FMLA meets the conditions of FMLA.

Definitions

Term 1- Definition [Provide terms and definitions that help the reader understand be specific items in the procedure or those that may have multiple meanings but one for the purpose of this procedure. These should be capitalized in the above sections. Enter "None" if there aren’t any for the procedure.]

Related Information

The U.S. Department of Labor’s FMLA overview and compliance assistance

Forms

FMLA: Request for Leave Forms and Posted Notices

Change History

Date

Summary of Change

January 12, 2009

New document.

November 9, 2009

Revised qualifying exigency and military caregiver details in accordance with FMLA amendments.

March 8, 2012

Revised qualifying exigency and military caregiver section to reflect amendments to FMLA

 

 

 

 

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