5:185 - Family and Medical Leave Act

Policy 5:185

Personnel

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

Under this Act, an eligible District employee is entitled to twelve (12) work weeks unpaid family/medical leave during any rolling backward twelve-month period in the event of:

  1. The birth and first-year care of a son or daughter
  2. The adoption or foster placement of a son or daughter. In the event of adoption or placement in foster care, time off includes absences from work that are necessary for the adoption or foster care to proceed and must end within a twelve-month period starting with the adoption or placement in foster care.
  3. The serious health condition of the employee’s spouse, child or parent (in-laws are excluded).
  4. The employee’s own serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the functions of his or her job.
  5. The existence of a qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, child, or parent is a covered military member on active duty (or has been notified of an impending call or order to active duty) in support of a contingency operation. A “covered military member” must be either a member of a Reserve component or a retired member of the regular Armed Forces or Reserve. “Qualifying exigencies” exist in the following categories: short-notice deployment, military events and related activities, childcare and school activities, financial and legal arrangements, rest and recuperation, post-deployment activities, and additional activities as provided in the FMLA regulations.
  6. To care for the employee’s spouse, child, parent, or next of kin who is a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness. A “covered servicemember” is a member of the Armed Forces, including a member of the National Guard or Reserves, who has a serious injury or illness incurred in the line of duty for which he or she is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy, is otherwise in outpatient status, or is otherwise on the temporary disability retired list. During a single 12-month period, an eligible employee’s FMLA leave entitlement may be extended to a total of 26 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury of illness (measured forward from the date the employee’s first FMLA leave to care for the covered servicemember begins).

Serious health condition is defined as an illness, injury, impairment of physical or mental condition that requires inpatient care in a hospital, hospice or residential medical care facility or requires continuing treatment by a health care provider as specified in the governing FMLA regulations.

If spouses are employed by the District, they may together take only 12 weeks for FMLA leave when the reason is for birth/first-year care of a child, adoption or foster placement of a child, or to care for a parent with a serious health condition.

An employee may be permitted to work on an intermittent or reduced-leave schedule in accordance with FMLA regulations.

Requesting Leave

If the need for the FMLA leave is foreseeable, employees are expected to provide at least thirty (30) days advance notice before the leave is to begin. If 30 days’ advance notice is not practicable, the notice must be given as soon as practicable. The employee shall make a reasonable effort to schedule a planned medical treatment so as not to disrupt the District’s operations, subject to the approval of the health care provider administering the treatment. The employee shall provide at least verbal notice sufficient to make the Superintendent or designee aware that he or she needs FMLA leave, and the anticipated timing and duration of the leave. Failure to give the required notice for a foreseeable leave may result in delay in granting the requested leave until at least 30 days after the date the employee provides notice.

Eligibility

To be eligible for FMLA leave, an employee must have been employed by the District for at least 12 months and have been employed for at least 1,250 hours of service during the 12-month period immediately before the beginning of the leave. The 12 months an employee must have been employed by the District need not be consecutive. However, the District will not consider any period of previous employment that occurred more than 7 years before the date of the most recent hiring, except when the service break is due to National Guard or Reserve military service or when a written agreement exists concerning the District’s intention to rehire the employee. A full-time classroom teacher is presumed to have met the 1,250 service hours requirement unless he/she did not provide services because of an unpaid leave of absence in that prior year.

Leave Description

While FMLA leave is normally unpaid, the District will substitute an employee’s accrued paid leave for unpaid FMLA leave. All policies and rules regarding the use of paid leave apply when paid leave is substituted for unpaid FMLA leave. The District’s substitution of paid leave for unpaid FMLA leave will count against the employee’s FMLA leave entitlement.

For the purposes of childbirth, paternity, and/or placement of a child with an employee for adoption or foster care, the maximum paid benefit period is defined contractually in applicable Bargaining Agreements and is limited to a maximum of twelve (12) calendar weeks following the birth or placement of the child.

Any full workweek period during which the employee would not have been required to work, including summer break, winter break and spring break, is not counted against the employee’s FMLA leave entitlement

An employee may be permitted to work on an intermittent or reduced-leave schedule in accordance with FMLA regulations.

Continuation of Health Benefits

An employee on FMLA leave is entitled to have health benefits maintained while on leave as if the employee had continued to work instead of taking leave. Where employees are required to pay part or all of premium payments prior to leave, he/she shall continue to pay such premiums during the leave period. A District’s obligation to maintain health insurance coverage ceases if an employee’s premium payment is more than 30 days late and the District notifies the employee at least 15 days before coverage will cease.

Certification

Medical certification from the health care provider must be submitted with all leave requests related to serious health conditions, to include the date the serious health condition began, the probable duration of the condition, appropriate medical facts regarding the condition, a statement that the employee is needed to care for the family member and an estimate of the amount of care time required (if leave is not for the self); OR in the case of employee illness a statement that the employee is unable to perform the functions of his/her job; if intermittent leave is needed for planned medical treatment a statement of dates on which treatment is expected to be given and the duration of such treatment.

When the leave is to care for a covered servicemember with a serious illness or injury, the employee must provide a certificate completed by an authorized health care provider for the covered servicemember.

When the leave is because of a qualified exigency, the employee must provide a copy of the covered military member’s active duty orders or other documentation issued by the military indicating that the military member is on active duty or call to active duty status in support of a contingency operation, and the dates of the covered military member’s active duty service.

The District may require an employee to obtain a second and third opinion at its expense when it has reason to doubt the validity of a medical certification.

The District may require recertification at reasonable intervals, but not more often than once every 30 days. Regardless of the length of time since the last request, the District may request recertification when the, (1) employee requests a leave extension, (2) circumstances described by the original certification change significantly, or (3) District receives information that casts doubt upon the continuing validity of the original certification. Recertification is at the employee’s expense and must be provided to the District within 15 calendar days after the request. The District may request recertification every 6 months in connection with any absence by an employee needing an intermittent or reduced schedule leave for conditions with a duration in excess of 6 months.

Failure to furnish a complete and sufficient certification on forms provided by the District may result in a denial of the leave request.

Return to Work

Employees will be returned to the same position or an equivalent position with equivalent pay, benefits and working conditions at the conclusion of the leave subject to: 1) permissiable limitations the District may impose as provided in the FMLA or implementing regulations, and 2) the District’s reassignment policies and practices.

Classroom teachers may be required to wait to return to work until the next semester in certain situations as provided under the FMLA regulations.

In circumstances where intermittent leave, reduced schedule leave or job accommodation is appropriate, a temporary assignment to an available alternate position may be consistent with federal and State law.

Employees are expected to return to work on the date indicated in the original request for leaves. It is recommended that an employee contact their supervisor one week prior to their rescheduled return date for confirmation purposes. An employee must provide the Superintendent or designee reasonable notice of changed circumstances (i.e., within 2 business days if the changed circumstances are foreseeable) that will alter the duration of the FMLA leave.

Employees who are on medical leave because of their own serious health condition must have a signed release from the certifying physician indicating the date on which the employee may return to work; this release must include any work restrictions recommended by the physician. The District reserves the right to evaluate or limit the employee’s return based on the employee’s medical restrictions, job functions and/or the results of a fitness-for-duty examination.

The Superintendent or designee shall ensure that: (1) all required notices and responses to leave requests are provided to employees in accordance with the FMLA; and (2) this policy is implemented in accordance with the FMLA. In the event of a conflict between the policy and the FMLA or its regulations, the latter shall control. The terms used in this policy shall be defined as in the FMLA regulations.

Adopted: November 10, 1997
Revised: October 27, 2014

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