Family Medical Leave Act
FMLA requires covered employers to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to 'eligible' employees for certain family and medical reasons. An eligible employee is defined as an employee who has worked for a covered employer for one year and for 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months, and if there is at least 50 employees within 75 miles.
Employees ordinarily must provide thirty (30) days advance notice when the leave is "foreseeable", i.e. pregnancy, elective surgery, etc. When the leave is not foreseeable, the employee must inform the employer "as soon as practicable" under the circumstances, which usually means within one or two business days.
Reasons for granting unpaid leave:
- The birth and care of a newborn child;
- The placement of a child for adoption or foster care and to care for the newly placed child;
- To care for the employee's spouse, son, daughter, or parent with a serious health condition;
- The employee's own serious health condition;
- To care for the spouse, son, daughter, or parent of a person on or about to be on active military duty for any "qualifying exigency" (which is to be determined by the Secretary of Labor);
- To care for an injured Service Member.
FMLA Frequently Asked Questions:
- Do the 1,250 hours include paid leave time or other absences from work?
- Does the employee get an option to take FMLA leave?
- How soon does the employee need to notify their employer when they may need FMLA?
- After the employee gives notice, does the employee have to provide anything else?
- Does an employee need the supervisor approval for FMLA?
- If an employee is verified eligible for FMLA in the current year, how much job protection would they be entitled to?
- Does the law guarantee paid time off?
- Can the employer count time on maternity leave or pregnancy disability leave as FMLA leave?
- Who is considered an immediate "family member" for purposes of taking FMLA leave?
- Where can an employee acquire the required FMLA forms?
- How will the employee know if they are eligible under FMLA?
- Will an employee receive pay while on FMLA protected leave?
- Will the employee still receive college benefits while on FMLA protected leave?
- What does the employee need to know before returning to work from a FMLA leave?
- Who to call when in doubt?
1. Do the 1,250 hours include paid leave time or other absences from work?
No. The 1,250 hours include only those hours actually worked for the employer. Paid leave and unpaid leave, including FMLA leave, are not included.
2. Does the employee get an option to take FMLA leave?
No. The Family Medical Leave Act is a Federal Law. In order to be compliant with Federal Law, Human Resources must provide the employee with the proper paperwork for completion.
3. How soon does the employee need to notify their employer when they may need FMLA?
Non-emergency requests should be made at least 30 days before the requested leave date. If that is not possible, then as soon as practicable, the employee should have the medical certification completed.
4. After the employee gives notice, does the employee have to provide anything else?
Yes, the employee is required to provide a written Certificate of Health Care Provider form from either their physician for personal illness or one from the employee's family member's physician for a family illness. This form has to be completed and returned to the FMLA coordinator within 15 days after notice.
5. Does an employee need the supervisor approval for FMLA?
No, the Human Resources designated FMLA Coordinator makes those determinations based upon the completion of the Physician Certification packet.
6. If an employee is verified eligible for FMLA in the current year, how much job protection would they be entitled to?
If an eligible employee is verified for FMLA job protection in the current year, then the employee would be entitled up to twelve work weeks within that current year.
7. Does the law guarantee paid time off?
No. The FMLA only requires unpaid leave. Employers can require the employee to use accrued paid leave, such as vacation or sick leave (as does NWACC), for some or all of the FMLA leave. Vacation and paid sick time runs concurrent with FMLA leave. The exception to this rule is that in the State of Arkansas, women utilizing FMLA for the birth of a child do not have to take any leave (sick/vacation) while they are out on FMLA leave. They may elect to take leave without pay during their leave.
8. Can the employer count time on maternity leave or pregnancy disability leave as FMLA leave?
Yes. Pregnancy disability leave or maternity leave for the birth of a child would be considered as a serious health condition and may be counted in the 12 weeks of leave. Maternity leave is to be treated as any other leave for sickness or disability. However, the employee may elect to take leave of absence without pay without exhausting accumulated annual and sick leave.
9. Who is considered an immediate "family member" for purposes of taking FMLA leave?
An employee's spouse, children (son or daughter) and parents are immediate family members for the purpose of FMLA. The term "parent" does not include a parent "in-law". The term son or daughter does not include individuals age 18 or over unless they are "incapable of self-care" because of a mental or physical disability that limits one or more of the "major life activities" as those terms are defined in regulations issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The exception to this rule is found in the (2) two new FMLA Rules and Regulations: Qualifying Exigency and Service Member Leave. In these instances, the children (son/daughter) would be 18 years or older.
10. Where can an employee acquire the required FMLA forms?
FMLA Coordinator, Human Resources Office, 479-619-2679.
11. How will the employee know if they are eligible under FMLA?
The FMLA Coordinator from the Human Resources Office will issue a "Response to Employee Request for Family or Medical Leave" notice within 48 hours of receipt of all requested documentation. This form notifies the employee of: their eligibility for leave, their responsibilities while out on leave and what is expected of them when they are ready to return back to work, as well as reminds the employee of his/her responsibility for their share of insurance premiums.
12. Will an employee receive pay while on FMLA protected leave?
Only employees who have unpaid sick, compensatory, and/or vacation time can request to use this time during their absence on FMLA. This time runs concurrent with FMLA.
13. Will the employee still receive college benefits while on FMLA protected leave?
Yes, NWACC will continue to pay the cost of the college's provided insurance coverage while the employee is out on FMLA leave. The Employee will still be responsible for his/her share of payment of premiums for any elected Employee coverage while out on FMLA Leave. It is the Employee's responsibility to contact the Benefits Specialist as soon as possible to make arrangements for premium payments if the Employee goes into a leave without pay status while out on FMLA leave. If the Employer pays the Employee share of insurance premiums, the Employee will be required to reimburse the Employer for payment made on behalf of the Employee.
14. What does the employee need to know before returning to work from a FMLA leave?
The employee will be required to obtain a medical release/"Fitness for Duty certificate from the attending physician, stating the dates you have been under a physician's care, the date you can return to work, and whether or not there are any work restrictions. Note: This only applies to an employee who is on FMLA for their own serious illness.
An employee returning from FMLA is restored to the same benefits eligibility, seniority, position or equal position including the same shift, skill level, effort requirements and responsibility.
15. Who to call when in doubt?
All questions should be directed to the FMLA Coordinator, Human Resources Office, (479) 619-2679.