Family Medical Leave Act Policy/Procedures

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Eligible employees of Southern Illinois University Carbondale may take job-protected leave of up to twelve weeks for specific family and medical reasons in accordance with the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993, as amended. Eligible employees requesting leave may be eligible for up to twelve (12) weeks of protected leave time measured forward from the first date of FMLA leave. The next 12-month period would begin the first time the employee takes FMLA leave after the completion of the prior 12-month period. Leave may be requested to run continuously or intermittently. The twelve work weeks allowed for family and medical leave are based on the percentage of the employee's appointment[1].

Eligibility

To be eligible for FMLA-protected leave, an employee much meet the following criteria:

  1. Has worked for Southern Illinois University Carbondale for at least 12 months (consecutive or non-consecutive); and
  2. Has worked at least 1,000 hours during the twelve months immediately preceding the requested start date of leave. 

Military Care Giver Leave

An employee may also request leave to care for a covered service member. Employees requesting leave for this reason may be eligible for up to twenty-six (26) weeks of FMLA protected leave in a single twelve month period, beginning the day the employee starts taking leave for this reason. Eligible employees will be the spouse, registered domestic partner, child, parent, or next of kin of the covered service member. Eligible employees are limited to a combined total of twenty-six weeks for any FMLA qualifying reason in the twelve-month period. Leave may be requested to run continuously or intermittently.

Calculation

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 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.

Qualifying Reasons for Leave

Unpaid leave may be granted for one or more any of the following reasons:

  1. To care of the employee’s child after birth or placement for adoption or foster care;
  2. To care for the employee’s spouse, registered domestic partner, child, or parent who has a serious health condition.
  3. For the employee's own serious health condition which prevents the employee from performing the essential functions of his or her job;
  4. For a qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee's spouse, registered domestic partner, son, daughter, or parent is a military member on covered active duty or has been notified of an impending call or order to covered active duty status.

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. Continuing treatment by a health care provider, which includes a period of incapacity of more than three (3) consecutive, full calendar days, and any subsequent treatment or period of incapacity relating to the same condition that also includes:
    1. treatment[2]two (2) or more times by or under the supervision of a health-care provider (i.e., in-person visit within seven (7) days of the first day of incapacity) with a continuing treatment regimen (e.g., prescription medication, physical therapy, etc.); or
    2. at least one treatment by a health-care provider (i.e., in-person visit within seven (7) days of the first day of incapacity) with a continuing treatment regimen[3] (e.g., prescription medication, physical therapy, etc.)[3] under the supervision of the health-care provider.
  1. Pregnancy: Any period of incapacity due to pregnancy, for prenatal care, or for a serious health condition following the birth of a child.
  2. Chronic Conditions Requiring Treatments: A chronic condition which:
    1. requires periodic visits at least twice a year 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.).
  3. 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.
  4. 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 at least 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 and Medical Certification Process

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.) The Certification of Physician or Practitioner form, which can be obtained from Human Resources, should be presented to the physician or practitioner. When an employee has a serious health condition, the employee should provide the physician or practitioner with a copy of the employee’s 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 in order for the leave to be protected under FMLA. Human Resources will review the medical certification for acceptability and will consult with the employee if the medical certification is not acceptable. Human Resources will inform the employee in writing of the employee’s right 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.

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, 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 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. SIUC is responsible in all circumstances for designating eligible leaves as FMLA-qualifying. 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 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 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. Employees requesting unpaid family and medical leave should contact Human Resources regarding continuation of benefits coverage.

 

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 FMLA leave, the employee will be responsible for paying the employee-paid portion of any insurance premiums presently paid by payroll deduction. The employee will be billed by Central Management Services (CMS) for any time on unpaid FMLA. The employee will need to keep in contact with CMS regarding billing dates. 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, the employee may 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 the employee’s 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, the Internal Revenue Service and the 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 (SURS). Employees that wish to make contributions during periods of unpaid leave will need to contact SURS regarding eligibility and payment process.

Return from Leave

An employee on leave may be required to report periodically to the supervisor or department head on the employee’s status and intention to return to work. An employee who has been absent for medical reasons is required 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 FMLA 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 the employee 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 the employee’s 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 the employee 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 this Policy are subject to the provisions of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993, as amended. Questions regarding provisions of FMLA and related federal regulations should be directed to Human Resources.


[1] For example, if the employee has a 50-percent appointment the employee 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