Family and Medical Leave Procedures

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The 12 work weeks allowed for family and medical leave are based on the percentage of the employee's appointment.[1] The 12-month period will be measured forward from the date an employee's family and medical leave begins. The entitlement to leave for the birth or placement of a child for adoption or foster care will expire 12 months from the date of the birth or placement. When both spouses are employed at SIU, the total amount of leave allowed for both, in a given year, for a) the birth or placement of a child or b) the care of a parent with a serious health condition is limited to 12 weeks. In other cases covered by this policy, each spouse is entitled to the full 12-week leave without limitation.

Family and medical leave may be taken all at one time or on an intermittent or reduced-leave schedule. Requests for an intermittent or reduced-leave schedule are subject to the approval of Human Resources/Personnel Services and will be considered on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration such factors as the medical necessity of such leave and the effect on the operations of the department.

Serious Health Condition

Serious health condition means an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves one of the following:

  1. Hospital Care: In-patient care (i.e., involving an overnight stay) in a hospital, hospice, or residential care facility, including any period of incapacity or subsequent treatment in connection with or consequent to such in-patient care.
  2. Absence Plus Treatment: A period of incapacity of more than 3 consecutive calendar days (including any subsequent treatment or period of incapacity relating to the same condition) that also involves
    1. treatment[2] 2 or more times by a health-care provider, by a nurse or physician's assistant under direct supervision of a health-care provider, or by a provider of health-care services under orders of or on referral by a health-care provider; or
    2. treatment by a health-care provider on at least one occasion which results in a regimen of continuing treatment[3] under the supervision of the health-care provider.
  3. Pregnancy: Any period of incapacity due to pregnancy, or for prenatal care.
  4. Chronic Conditions Requiring Treatments: A chronic condition which
    1. requires periodic visits for treatment by a health-care provider or by a nurse or physician's assistant under direct supervision of a health-care provider;
    2. continues over an extended period of time (including recurring episodes of a single underlying condition); and
    3. may cause episodic rather than a continuing period of incapacity (e.g., asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, etc.).
  5. Permanent/Long-Term Conditions Requiring Supervision: A period of incapacity which is permanent or long-term due to a condition for which treatment may not be effective. The employee or family member must be under the supervision of, but need not be receiving active treatment by, a health-care provider.
  6. Multiple Treatments (Non-Chronic Conditions): Any period of absence to receive multiple treatments (including any period of recovery therefrom) by a health-care provider or by a provider of health-care services under orders of or on referral by a health-care provider, either for restorative surgery after an accident or other injury, or for a condition that would likely result in a period of incapacity of more than 3 consecutive calendars in the absence of medical intervention or treatment, such as cancer, severe arthritis, kidney disease.

Notice of Leave

An employee intending to take family or medical leave because of an expected birth or placement of a child for adoption or foster care, or for planned medical treatment for a serious health condition of the employee or family member must give the employing department 30-day notice before the leave is to begin. The department may waive part or all of this requirement. In the case of planned medical treatment, the employee should make a reasonable effort to schedule the treatment to avoid undue disruption of the operations of the employing department. If the reason for the leave is not foreseeable (e.g., an injury, or notification that a child is suddenly available for adoption), the employee shall provide as much notice as is feasible.

Application for Leave 

An employee requesting leave must complete an Absence Request or an Absence without Pay form or both and indicate "Family and Medical Leave" as the reason for the absence. The form(s) must be returned to the departmental supervisor, with a copy submitted to Human Resources/Personnel Services, which will inform the employee in writing of his/her rights and obligations under FMLA and will also record the 12-month eligibility period for each employee and the amount of leave taken during a given year. Employees requesting unpaid family and medical leave should contact Human Resources/Personnel Services regarding continuation of benefits coverage.

Medical Certification of Serious Health Conditions

The Certification of Physician or Practitioner form, which can be obtained from Human Resources/Personnel Services, should be presented to the physician or practitioner. When an employee has a serious health condition, he/she should provide the physician or practitioner with a copy of his/her approved job description, if applicable, so the health-care provider can better determine the employee's ability to perform the required job duties. In the case of an employee who is needed to care for a spouse, child, or parent, the certification must specify this need, along with an estimate of the amount of time the employee will be needed. The completed certification form, signed by the provider and the employee, must be returned to Human Resources/ Personnel Services in order for the leave to be protected under FMLA.

A request for unpaid medical leave because of the serious health condition of the employee, spouse, child, or parent must be supported by certification issued by the employee's or family member's health-care provider. (Certification requirements for paid leaves will be governed by the university's policies on sick leave, vacation, and leave with pay.) Human Resources/Personnel Services will review the medical certification for acceptability and will consult with the employing department if the medical certification is not acceptable. An employee may be required to provide the opinion of a second health-care provider designated or approved, but not employed, by the university. The opinion of a third provider may be required when there are differing opinions. The third provider will be designated or approved jointly by the university and the employee. The opinion of the third provider will be considered final and binding on the university and employee. Any expenses associated with obtaining second and third opinions will be borne by the employing department. The employing department, through Human Resources/Personnel Services, may normally request recertification at intervals of no less than 30 days for pregnancy or for those conditions under the continuing supervision of a health-care provider which qualify as chronic or permanent/long term. Human Resources/Personnel Services may request recertification short of the 30-day interval if circumstances warrant, i.e., if information is received that casts doubt upon the employee's stated reason for the absence, or if circumstances described by the previous certification have changed significantly.

Designation of Leave as FMLA

If all required conditions are met, an employee requesting a leave under FMLA cannot be denied the leave. Normally, the designation of leave as FMLA, which will be reported to the employee in writing, should be made before the employee begins the leave. Exceptions to that practice may be granted in cases where the employer learns of the reason for the leave only after the employee returns to work, or where the employer has provisionally designated the leave as FMLA and is waiting for the employee to submit medical certification or other allowable documentation. The fiscal officer is responsible for informing Human Resources/Personnel Services of all leave to be charged to an employee's FMLA entitlement.

Use of Paid and Unpaid Leave

Sick leave and/or vacation benefits may be used for all or part of a family and medical leave in accordance with applicable SIU personnel policies. Any portion of the 12-week period for which such benefits are not applied will be leave without pay. Absence Request forms should designate when paid benefits are being used for reasons of family and medical leave. A copy of the Absence Request must be submitted to Human Resources/Personnel Services so that the following information can be recorded: 1) the beginning point of the eligibility period; 2) the number of days charged to paid leave; 3) the number of days of unpaid leave used for purposes of family and medical leave. A determination to discipline an employee for absenteeism cannot be based on the use of family and medical leave.

In the case of an extended disability resulting from the employee's serious health condition, an employee may qualify for disability benefits through the State Universities Retirement System.

Benefits Coverage During Leave

During a period of family and medical leave, an employee's health, dental, and basic state life insurance benefits will be maintained under the same conditions that applied before the leave commenced. SIU will continue to pay the employer portion of the premium. During any period of unpaid leave, the employee will be responsible for paying the employee-paid portion of any insurance premiums presently paid by payroll deduction. The employee, who will be billed monthly for these premium payments, has a 30-day grace period following the due date in which to make the premium payment. If the employee's premium is unpaid at the end of that period, the employee will be sent a written notice informing him/her that coverage will be canceled if payment is not received within 15 days of the end of the 30-day grace period. If benefits are terminated, the employee's coverage will be reinstated without penalty at the time he/she returns to work. Certification of good health will be required for dependent reinstatement, and pre-existing condition clauses will apply. An employee on an unpaid family and medical leave will not accrue vacation or sick leave during the period of unpaid leave.

If the employee fails to return to work or, returning to work, does not continue in employment for at least 30 days following the conclusion of the leave, he/she will be required to reimburse the university for payment of the employer's portion of the premiums paid during the family leave. This provision will be waived if the reason for continued absence is the continuation of the serious health condition whereby the employee is prevented from performing his/her job, or b) circumstances beyond the employee's control. Certification of such conditions may be required by the university.

If the employee is enrolled in the Medical Care and/or Dependent Care Assistance programs, Internal Revenue Service and Department of Central Management Services rules governing these plans at the time of the leave will apply.

Service and Seniority

Any time taken for unpaid family and medical leave will not count toward the accumulation of university-service time. Civil service employees on family and medical leave will continue to accumulate seniority in accordance with the State Universities Civil Service Statute and Rules. To determine the effect of family and medical leave on the accumulation of service time for retirement, the employee should contact the State Universities Retirement System. The employee may elect to continue making contributions to the State Universities Retirement System during any period of unpaid leave by completing the Election to Make Contributions While on Leave of Absence at No Pay.

Return from Leave

An employee on leave may be required to report periodically to the supervisor or department head on his/her status and intention to return to work. An employee who has been absent for medical reasons may be required by the employing department to obtain from a health-care provider certification that the employee is able to resume work. Employees are requested to provide reasonable notice in advance of the anticipated date of return or the expiration of the leave.

The failure of an employee to return to work upon the expiration of a family or medical leave may result in termination, unless an extension is granted. Requests for extension must be directed to the employee's immediate supervisor. If time is needed beyond the family-and-medical-leave entitlement, the employee may request another type of leave, in accordance with other university-leave policies. This request should be made as soon as the employee realizes that he/she will not be able to return at the expiration of the leave period.

Restoration to Employment

Contingent upon the employee's continued ability to perform all of the essential functions of the job, an employee returning from family and medical leave will be restored to his/her former position or to a position with equivalent pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment. An employee's return to the same or equivalent position is subject, also, to the university's policies governing reappointment and the expected continuation of the employee's appointment. In addition, rights and benefits to which the employee taking an unpaid leave would have been entitled had he/she not taken the leave, such as salary adjustments or fringe benefit enhancements, will be granted to the employee upon return from unpaid leave. Leaves of absence under FMLA may not be counted against the employee for the purpose of documenting a problem with absenteeism.

Questions

Interpretation of specific requirements of the family-and-medical-leave policy are subject to the provisions of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993. Questions regarding provisions of FMLA and related federal regulations should be directed to Human Resources/Personnel Services.

1. For example, if the employee has a 50-percent appointment he/she will be given 12 weeks at 50-percent time, not 6 weeks at 100-percent time.

2. Treatment includes examination to determine if a serious health condition exists and, in the case of positive findings, to evaluate the condition. Treatment does not include routine physical, eye, or dental examinations.

3. A regimen of continuing treatment includes a course of prescription medication (e.g., an antibiotic) or therapy requiring special equipment to resolve or alleviate the health condition. Activities that can be initiated without a visit to a health-care provider, such as drinking fluids, exercising, taking non-prescription medication, etc. are not considered a regimen of treatment.