Family and Medical Leave
It is the policy of Spelman College (the College) to provide family and medical leave to eligible employees in accordance with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (the FMLA) and new revisions to the FMLA effective January 16, 2009. The FMLA provides eligible employees with job protection for a specified time period. This policy sets forth your rights and obligations under FMLA.
To be eligible for family and medical leave, an employee must have: (1) worked for the College for at least twelve months prior to the date on which the leave is to commence; and (2) worked for at least 1,250 hours in the 12 months preceding the leave. In the event that an employee’s leave begins prior to the attainment of 12 months of service, but extends beyond the 12 months of service milestone, that employee’s leave will qualify as FMLA only following the 12 months of service milestone.
Permissible Uses of Family and Medical Leave
“Family care leave” may be requested for: (1) the birth or adoption of an employee’s child; (2) the placement of a foster child with the employee; (3) the serious health condition of an employee’s child, spouse, parent, *domestic partner and domestic partner’s parents or child; (4) military caregiver leave; or (5) a qualifying exigency.
“Medical leave” may be requested for an employee’s own serious health condition. A “serious health condition” is one that: (1) requires continuing in-patient treatment by a Health Care Provider (HCP) in a medical facility or continuing treatment and/or supervision by a health care provider; (2) results in a period of incapacity of more than 3 full consecutive calendar days; (3) necessitates treatment 2 or more times by a HCP within a 30 day period (unless extenuating circumstances exist); (4) or necessitates treatment once, but also requires a continuing regiment of treatment. In the event of chronic conditions, HCP visits must occur at least 2 times each 12 calendar months.
Substitution of Paid Leave for Family Care and Medical Leave
Employees are required to use all accrued and available sick and vacation time for all family and medical leaves first, and then take the remainder of the designated leave as unpaid leave. When paid leave is available, all accrued sick leave must be exhausted before utilizing accrued vacation time. Accrued sick and/or vacation leave may also be used to complement short term disability (STD) compensation, when applicable. To receive STD benefits, employees must apply for coverage, and if approved, premiums will be deducted from the paychecks.
Amount of Leave
Provided all the conditions of this Policy are met, an employee may take a maximum of 12 weeks of family and medical leave in a rolling 12-month period measured backwards from the date the employee’s leave commences. Parents who are both employed by the College may take a maximum combined total of 12 weeks of family leave in a 12-month period for the birth, adoption, or foster care of their child. Family care leaves for the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a child must be concluded within 1 year of the child’s birth, adoption, or placement.
The substitution of paid leave for family care or medical leave does not extend the total duration of family care and medical leave to which an employee is entitled to beyond 12 weeks in a 12 month period. For example, if an employee has accrued four weeks of unused paid vacation time at the time of the request for family care leave, that paid vacation time will be substituted for the first four weeks of family care leave, leaving up to eight additional weeks of unpaid leave.
Medical leave taken for an employee’s own serious health condition or family care leave for the serious health condition of the employee’s spouse, domestic partner, parent, or child may be taken intermittently or on a reduced schedule where medically necessary. If leave is taken intermittently or on a reduced schedule, the College retains the discretion to transfer the employee to an alternative position temporarily with equivalent pay and benefits that accommodate the employee’s leave schedule.
Effect of Leave on Pay
Except to the extent that other paid leave is substituted for qualifying family and medical leave consistent with this Policy, such leave is unpaid.
Time Sheets and Exception Reports
Time sheets and exception reports must be completed during the period of the leave for exempt and non-exempt employees. Information should be submitted to the employee’s supervisor and Payroll by the 5th working day of the following month, if not sooner.
Effect of Leave on Benefits
During approved, paid leave, the College will continue to pay the employer’s portion of the applicable premium for participation in the College’s group insurance plans for a specified period of time to the same extent and under the same terms and conditions as though the employee had not taken leave. The employee’s portion will be deducted from their paycheck. However, during periods of approved, unpaid leave, an employee will be responsible for his or her portion of the applicable premium benefit costs, the payment for which must be received no later than the 5th of each month to avoid disruption or cancellation of such benefit coverage. The College will continue paying the employer’s portion until such time employment is terminated. Other benefits will be governed in accordance with the terms of each benefit plan.
If an employee does not return to work at the conclusion of an approved family and medical leave, the employee may be liable for payment of the plan premiums paid by the College during any unpaid portion of your leave.
The College may recover its share of plan premiums by taking deductions, to the extent permitted by law, from unpaid wages, if any, vacation pay, or other pay due an employee, or by initiating legal action. However, an employee will not be liable for the premiums if his or her failure to return to work is due to continuation of his or her own serious health condition or other reasons beyond control of the employee. An employee will be considered to have returned to work if he or she works for at least 30 calendar days commencing with the scheduled return date.
Employees on family or medical leave accrue employment benefits, such as sick leave, vacation benefits, or seniority, only when paid leave is substituted for unpaid leave, and only if the employee would otherwise be entitled to such accrual. Otherwise, when leave is unpaid, an employee is not entitled to accrue benefits and will not be paid for holidays.
Employees should notify the Office of Human Resources of their request for family or medical leave as soon as they are aware of the need for such leave. For foreseeable events, the employee must provide 30 calendar days’ advance notice to the College of the need for leave. For events that are unforeseeable 30 days in advance, but are not emergencies, the employee must notify the College as soon as he or she learns of the need for the leave, ordinarily no later than one or two working days after the employee learns of the need for the leave. If the leave is requested in connection with a planned, non-emergency medical treatment, the employee may be requested to reschedule the treatment to minimize disruption of the College’s business.
If an employee fails to provide the requisite 30 days advance notice for foreseeable events without any reasonable excuse for the delay, the College reserves the right to deny or delay the family care or medical leave. All requests for family care or medical leave should include the anticipated date(s) and duration of the leave.
Upon notification or receipt of a family care or medical leave request, the College will notify the requesting employee of whether the leave is FMLA eligible within 5 business days.
In the event that a requested leave is determined not to be FMLA qualifying, the College will provide (in writing) at least one reason for the ineligibility. Within 5 business days of determining that a requested leave is FMLA eligible, the College will generate and supply the employee with an FMLA Designation Notice, identifying the specific terms of the requested leave period, including but not limited to the dates of FMLA eligibility, potential compensation, key employee notification, and any reinstatement specifications.
Requests for Leave Extension
Any requests for extensions of a family or medical leave must be received by the Office of Human Resources. Requests must be in writing and accompanied by an updated medical certification at least 5 working days before the date on which the employee was originally scheduled to return to work, and must include the revised anticipated date(s) and duration of the family care or medical leave. The College reserves the right to deny requests for extensions and/or deny reinstatement.
The Genetic Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) prohibits employers and other entities covered by GINA Title II from requesting, or requiring, genetic information of an individual or family member of the individual, except as specifically allowed by this law. To comply with this law, we are asking that you not provide any genetic information when responding to requests for medical information. “Genetic information”, as defined by GINA, includes an individual’s family medical history, the results of an individual’s or family member’s genetic tests, the fact that an individual or an individual’s family member sought or received genetic services and genetic information of a fetus carried by an individual or an individual’s family member or an embryo lawfully held by an individual or family member receiving assistive reproductive services.
Medical Certification and Fitness for Duty Examinations
Any request for medical leave for an employee’s own serious health condition, or for family care leave to care for a child, spouse, *domestic partner, or parent with a serious health condition, must be supported by medical certification from a health care provider. For foreseeable leaves, employees must provide the required medical certification before the leave begins. When this is not possible, employees must provide the required certification within 15 calendar days after the College’s request for certification, unless it is not practicable under the circumstances to do so, despite the employee’s good faith efforts. Medical certification/re-certification documentation must include the functions of the employee’s job that cannot be performed due to the medical condition. In the event of incomplete or insufficient certification information, the College will request (in writing) the necessary information. The employee will have up to 7 business days to provide the necessary information. In the event that this information is not provided, the College reserves the right to deny leave or the continuation of leave.
In cases where necessary medical information is not provided, the College is granted the right, without the express permission of the employee, to contact the employee’s HCP for verification and clarification of existing information, but not to obtain additional information. This contact will only be made by a representative in the Office of Human Resources in accordance with relevant HIPPA standards. In the event that the Human Resources representative is unable to obtain sufficient clarification from an employee’s HCP, and the employee fails to supply the necessary information, the College reserves the right to deny the leave or continuation of leave.
Medical re-certification may be requested in cases where the original medical condition(s) has changed; the College has received a request for an extension; the College receives information that casts doubt upon the employee’s stated status; or for any leave that lasts for more than 6 months. The College also reserves the right to provide attendance records to the HCP to verify whether the existing leave parameters are necessary.
If the College has reason to doubt the validity of the certification provided by the employee, the College reserves the right require a second medical opinion to verify the terms of a requested leave or leave continuation from a HCP of the College’s choosing and at the expense of the College. If the employee’s HCP and the doctor providing the second opinion do not agree, the College may require a third opinion, also at the College’s expense, performed by a mutually-agreeable doctor, who will make a final determination.
In the event of an employee refusing to release relevant records to an HCP providing the second opinion, the College reserves the right to deny the leave or continuation of leave. Upon the request of the employee, the College shall have 5 business days to supply the results of the second opinion to the requesting employee.
The medical certification for a child, spouse, or parent with a serious health condition shall include: (a) the date on which the serious health condition commenced; (b) the probable duration of the condition; (c) the health care provider’s estimate of the amount of time needed for family care; (d) the health care provider’s assurance that the health care condition warrants the participation of the employee to provide family care; and (e) in the case of intermittent or reduced schedule leave where medically necessary, the probable duration of such a schedule.
Any Fitness for Duty (FFD) Certification requirements will have been identified in the FMLA Designation Notice. No second or third opinions are permitted for FFD Certifications.
Effect on Reinstatement
Employees who return from family and medical leave are entitled to reinstatement to the same or comparable position, consistent with applicable law, in the event the leave has not extended beyond an employee’s FMLA entitlement. If leave has extended beyond the entitlement, the College reserves the right to deny reinstatement to employees. If employees are not reinstated to their same position at time of release from HCP, the employee has a period of 30 calendar days to apply for any current vacancy, and if offered, may accept that position; otherwise, employment terminates at that time. Employees not released from HCP within 1 calendar year after last day worked will be terminated at that time.
Information and Questions
For additional information concerning Family and Medical Leave, please review the online Employee Handbook or contact the Office of Human Resources.
* A signed domestic partner agreement must be on file prior to receiving the benefit.
Policy No. 602 Effective Date: 6/15/2011
Revision Date: 03/27/2015