Leave of Absence - Staff

FAQ’s about Leaves:

 

What is the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)?

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides an entitlement of up to 12 weeks of job-protected, paid or unpaid leave during a 12-month period to eligible, covered employees with continuation of group health insurance coverage.

When can an employee take FMLA?

  • the birth of a child and to care for the newborn child within one year of birth;
  • the placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care and to care for the newly placed child within one year of placement;
  • to care for the employee’s spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition;
  • a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job;
  • any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a covered military member on “covered active duty;” or
  • twenty-six workweeks of leave during a single 12-month period to care for a covered service member with a serious injury or illness who is the spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin to the employee (military caregiver leave).

How do I know if an employee is eligible for FMLA?

SHSU employees must have a total of at least twelve (12) months of state service credit and have actually worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12-month period immediately preceding the commencement of leave.

 

Do the 12 months of service with the employer have to be continuous or consecutive?

No. The 12 months do not have to be continuous or consecutive; all time worked for the employer is counted. However, an employee must have worked at least 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months preceding the FMLA leave period to meet eligibility for FMLA.

 

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.

How is the 12-month period calculated under FMLA?

SHSU calculates a "rolling" 12-month period measured backward from the date an employee uses FMLA leave.

Can I choose not to use FMLA for my leave?

No. SHSU employees do not have the option of choosing whether or not to designate leave as family and medical leave (FMLA) for a qualifying event.

In all circumstances, it is the employer that determines whether leave qualifies as FMLA leave. SHSU counts FMLA qualifying events toward the maximum total of 12 workweeks of FMLA leave in a 12-month period.

Will an employee be paid for hours protected under FMLA?

No. The FMLA does not require your employer to pay you during your leave. SHSU requires one to use accrued paid and unpaid leave you are eligible to use.

Will an employee have insurance while on Family Medical Leave?

For the duration of FMLA leave, the employer must continue to pay for the employee's health-insurance coverage as it normally would. The employee must pay for optional coverages while on leave. Payroll deductions for optional coverages will continue as long as the employee is on a paid-leave status during the leave period.

If a leave without pay status applies to the FMLA leave, an employee is encouraged to contact the Insurance and Benefit Specialist in Human Resources to inquire about appropriate payment procedures for optional coverages.

Can my employer stop making insurance payments?

Yes. If an employee does not return to work after 12 weeks of FMLA, the employer can stop making insurance payments. The University may recover any premiums for maintaining coverage for the employee if he or she does not return from the leave; unless the failure to return is due to a continuance or recurrence of the cause of the medical leave or due to other circumstances beyond the control of the employee.

How is "family" defined under FMLA?

"Family members" are defined as those individuals who reside in the same household and are related by kinship, adoption, or marriage, as well as foster children certified by the State. This would include:

  • the employee's parent;
  • the employee's child, including adult children who are incapable of caring for themselves;
  • the employee's spouse when he or she has a serious medical condition;
  • the employee's "next of kin" but only in situations of caring for an injured service member.

If an employee's mother-in-law or sibling has a serious medical condition, can the employee request protection under FMLA?

No. Employees have the right to take FMLA leave only to care for someone who is a biological or adoptive parent. An employee can also take leave to care for an individual who acted as his or her parent during the employee's childhood.

An employee’s use of sick leave for family members not residing in that employee’s household is strictly limited to the time necessary to provide care as a direct result of a documented medical condition.

 

May the father of a child use his sick leave in conjunction with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave for the birth of a child?

A SHSU employee who is the father of a child may use his sick leave in conjunction with the child's birth only if the child is actually ill or to care for his spouse while she is recovering from labor and delivery.

 

What happens when employees take FMLA leave for one serious medical condition, and then develop another illness while they’re out?

FMLA leave can simply be extended (with proper documentation). This common situation comes up when an employee plans to be out for a few weeks (i.e. a surgical procedure) and then needs another few weeks to recover from complications that develop; all eligible leave counts toward the 12-week allotment.

One should know that an employee does not get a new 12-week entitlement each time a new serious health condition arises — whether the conditions are back-to-back or separate.

What is a “serious health condition”?

A serious health condition under FMLA is defined as an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves either an overnight stay in a medical care facility or continuing treatment by a health care provider for a condition that prevents the employee from performing the functions of the employee’s job.

How much leave are a husband and wife entitled to if they are employed by Sam Houston State University?

A husband and wife who are eligible for FMLA leave and are employed by SHSU may be limited to a combined total of 12 weeks of leave during any 12-month period if the leave is taken for:

  • the birth of the employee’s son or daughter or to care for the child after birth;
  • the placement of a son or daughter with the employee for adoption or foster care, or to care for the child after placement; or
  • to care for the employee’s parent with a serious health condition If both the husband and wife use a portion of the 12 weeks for one of the above events, each would be entitled to the difference between the amount he/she has taken individually and 12 weeks for FMLA leave for another qualifying event.

Example: If each spouse took 6 weeks of leave to care for a newborn child, each could use an additional 6 weeks of leave due to his/her own serious health condition or to care for a child with a serious health condition.

How much leave is an employee entitled to under FMLA?

An employee who is eligible for FMLA is entitled to a maximum of 12 weeks of leave in a single 12-month period. If taking leave to care for an injured service member an employee is eligible for a one time allotment of 26 weeks in a single 12 month period.

Can an employee take a few hours every week to take a family member to a medical appointment?

Yes. Family Medical Leave may be taken intermittently when medically necessary. An employee may take leave in blocks of time such as an hour, a half-day, a day, a week, four weeks or 12 weeks- to care for a family member.

May I take FMLA leave for visits to a physical therapist, if my doctor prescribes the therapy?

Yes. FMLA permits you to take leave to receive “continuing treatment by a health care provider,” which can include recurring absences for therapy treatments such as those ordered by a doctor for physical therapy after a hospital stay or for other medically necessary treatment.

Will an employee who takes 12 weeks for his or her own personal medical condition be entitled to another 12 weeks to take care of a family member?

No. SHSU employees are entitled to a total of 12 weeks of FMLA leave in a single 12-month “rolling” period.

Does workers’ compensation leave count against an employee’s FMLA leave entitlement?

Yes. FMLA leave and workers’ compensation leave run concurrently provided the reason for the absence is due to a qualifying serious illness or injury and the employer properly notifies the employee in writing that the leave will be counted as FMLA leave.

 

What if an employee is required to take more than 12 weeks off?

Please contact the Insurance and Benefit Manager in Human Resources.

The employee's doctor is requesting that she take time off before the birth of her child. Can the employee do this?

Yes. FMLA covers any pregnancy-related leave that is medically necessary.

Can the employer count leave taken due to pregnancy complications against the 12 weeks of FMLA leave for the birth and care of my child?

Yes. An eligible employee is entitled to a total of 12 weeks of FMLA leave in a single “rolling” 12-month period. If the employee has to use some of that leave for another reason, including a difficult pregnancy, it may be counted as part of the 12-week FMLA leave entitlement.

If leave is taken for the birth and care of the employee’s child or for placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care, how long do I have to take the leave?

Leave for these events must be taken within the 12-month period beginning on the date of the birth or placement.

Does an employee need to prove that he or she or a family member has a serious health condition?

Yes. Employees will need to have a doctor complete a medical-certification form (WH-380-E or WH-380-F).

What will the health care provider be asked to include on the medical-certification form for the employee or employee’s family member?

The certification form (WH-380-E or WH-380-F) must include the reason for leave, a specific date for leave to begin, a specific date the leave is expected to end and doctor's signature.

How much advance notice do I have to provide for an upcoming FMLA leave?

The employee ordinarily must provide 30 days' advance notice when the leave is foreseeable. An employer may require medical certification to support a request for leave because of a serious health condition and may require second or third opinions (at the employer's expense) and a fitness-for-duty report to return to work.

Do I have to give my employer my medical records for leave due to a serious health condition?

No. Medical records are not provided. A medical certification form (WH-380-E or WH-380-F) is required to confirm a serious health condition exists.

What will happen if an employee's doctor does not submit a completed medical-certification form?

The employee will not be protected by FMLA, and leave will not be approved. The employee is responsible for completing the application for leave form, providing supporting documentation, and following up on approvals. Disciplinary action may be taken for unapproved leave or job abandonment.

Can my employer refuse to grant me FMLA leave?

If you are an "eligible" employee who has met FMLA's notice and certification requirements (and you have not exhausted your FMLA leave entitlement for the year), you may not be denied FMLA leave.

Are there other circumstances in which my employer can deny me FMLA leave or reinstatement to my job?

Employees who are unable to return to work and have exhausted their 12 weeks of FMLA leave in the designated “12 month period” no longer have FMLA protections of leave or job restoration.

SHSU may deny reinstatement to an employee who fails to provide the certification of fitness for duty to return to work, or may delay reinstatement until the certification is submitted.

Employees who give unequivocal notice that they do not intend to return to work lose their entitlement to FMLA leave.

Can my employer require me to return to work before I exhaust my leave?

SHSU may deny the continuation of FMLA leave due to a serious health condition if you fail to fulfill any obligations to provide supporting medical certification. SHSU will not return you to work without appropriate and completed documentation. If you are placed on intermittent or reduced schedule leave, SHSU may reassign you as appropriate to the certification.

Will I have the same job when I return from FMLA leave?

Upon return from FMLA, an employee will be restored to the original or an equivalent position with equivalent pay and benefits.

Questions?  Call the Human Resources department at 936-294-1872.


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