Benefits » Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Rules and Requirements

Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Rules and Requirements

The Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) provides unpaid, job-protected leave to eligible employees, allowing up to 12 work weeks of leave for specified family and medical reasons during a 12-month period. 
 
 
  • The birth of a child and to bond with the newborn child within one year of birth.
An employee's entitlement to FMLA leave for birth and bonding expires 12 months after the date of birth. Both mothers and fathers have the same right to take FMLA leave for the birth of a child. Birth and bonding leave must be taken as a continuous block of leave unless the employer agrees to allow intermittent leave.
 
  • The placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care and to bond with the newly placed child within one year of placement.
 
FMLA leave may be taken before the actual placement or adoption of a child if an absence from work is required for the placement for adoption or foster care to proceed. For example, the employee may be entitled to FMLA leave to attend counseling sessions, appear in court, consult with his or her attorney or the birth parent’s representative, submit to a physical examination, or travel to another country to complete an adoption before the actual date of placement. FMLA leave to bond with a child after placement must be taken as a continuous block of leave unless the employer agrees to allow intermittent leave. An employee’s entitlement to FMLA leave for the placement of a child for adoption or foster care expires 12 months after the placement.
 
  • A serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the functions of his or her job.
 
An employee is “unable to perform the functions of the position” where the health care provider finds that the employee
  - is unable to work at all, or
  - is unable to perform any one of the essential functions of the employee's position.
An employee who must be absent from work to receive medical treatment for a serious health condition is considered to be unable to perform the essential functions of the position during the absence for treatment.
 
  • To care for the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent who has a serious health condition.
 
An employee must be needed to provide care for his or her spouse, son, daughter, or parent because of the family member’s serious health condition in order for the employee to take FMLA leave. An employee may be needed to provide care to the family member, for example
  - when the family member is unable to care for his or her own medical, safety or other needs, because of the serious health condition or needs help in being transported to the doctor; or
  - to provide psychological comfort and reassurance to the family member with a serious health condition.
 
  • Any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a military member on covered active duty.
 
Qualifying exigencies are situations arising from the military deployment of an employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent to a foreign country. Qualifying exigencies for which an employee may take FMLA leave include making alternative child care arrangements for a child of the military member when the deployment of the military member necessitates a change in the existing child care arrangement; attending certain military ceremonies and briefings; taking leave to spend time with a military member on Rest and Recuperation leave during deployment; or making financial or legal arrangements to address a covered military member’s absence; or certain activities related to care of the parent of the military member while the military member is on covered active duty. See
Fact Sheet 28M(c): Qualifying Exigency leave under the FMLA. An employee may take qualifying exigency leave for the deployment of a son or daughter of any age. 
To be eligible for FML, employees must have worked for SISD for at least 12 months and have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours within the past 12 months prior to the start of the leave request. Leave may be taken to care for a spouse, child or parent with a serious health condition or when the employee is unable to work because of his or her own serious health condition.
The most common serious health conditions that qualify for FML are:
• Conditions requiring an overnight stay in a hospital or other medical facility.
• Conditions that incapacitate an employee or family member (for example, unable to work or attend school) for more than three consecutive days and require ongoing medical treatment (either multiple appointments with a health care provider, or a single appointment and follow-up care such as prescription medication).
• Chronic conditions that cause occasional periods in which an employee or family member is incapacitated and requires treatment by a health care provider at least twice a year.
• Pregnancy, including prenatal medical appointments, incapacity due to morning sickness, and medically required bed rest.
Employees must inform Personnel Services of a leave request at least 30 days before it is to begin, when the need is foreseeable and such notice is possible. Examples of leave requiring a 30-day notice include an expected birth, a placement for adoption or foster care, or planned medical treatment for the employee or a family member’s serious health condition. If a 30-day notice is not possible due to lack of knowledge when the leave will begin, a change in circumstances or a medical emergency, notice must be given to Personnel Services as soon as practicable. Principals or other campus-based administrators are not authorized to approve FML. Only SISD Personnel Services may approve. All eligible leaves will be designated as FML even if an FML is not specifically requested by the employee (he or she may be incapacitated). Federal and State laws require SISD, as the employer, to grant FML for all eligible leaves of absence.
FML grants the right to unpaid leave. However, pursuant to SISD Board Policy, employees are required to use personal leave time, which is taken concurrently until the leave time is exhausted or the FML leave ends, whichever comes first. How are my insurance premiums paid while I am on FML? SISD will continue to pay the employer portion of health and life insurance premiums. Employees are responsible for their portion of insurance premiums, if any, while on leave. If SISD is unable to collect the employee’s portion of insurance premiums from his or her paycheck, the premiums will go into arrears. Upon his or her return from leave, SISD will deduct the total arrears from his or her paycheck. The employee also has the option of submitting premium payments to minimize the benefit arrears while on leave. Does FML offer job protection? SISD is required to reinstate employees in the same or equivalent position, with the same pay and benefits as the position the employee held before the leave. Do I have to take my leave all at once? Employees can take FML as either a continuous, single block of time or intermittently, in multiple, smaller blocks of time, if medically necessary. They can also take leave on a part-time basis if medically necessary.
FML is granted to the employee within the boundaries of 12 work weeks within a 12-month period. An FML period begins July 1 and ends June 30 of the following year, if all allotted 12 work weeks are used; the employee would not be eligible for additional leave until the new FML year begins. (Example: Ms. Rogers is a teacher, and she is due to give birth September 5. She requests FML and is granted 12 work weeks of leave. She returns December 10, however, she requests another FML in February. She would be denied the second FML because she exhausted her 12 work weeks from the first FML). What if my spouse is also an SISD employee and we want to take leave at the same time? If FML is taken for a medical leave, each employee is entitled to 12 weeks under certain circumstances. A mother can take FML for the birth of the child and the father can request care of the spouse and be granted FML. However, if FML is taken for child-bonding both employees are limited to a total of 12 weeks between them. In cases where employees have each taken six weeks of family leave, for example, each is still entitled to the remaining six weeks for medical leave. What about the summer months if I am a 9- or 10-month employee? The period during the summer when a school employee would not be required to report for duty is not counted against the employee’s FML entitlement. A 9- or 10-month employee who is on FML leave at the end of the school year must be provided any benefits over the summer vacation that nine- or 10-month employees would normally receive, if they had been working at the end of the school year. Does FML cover military leave? Military Leave is not covered under the umbrella of FML. Employees may request a military leave pursuant to SISD Board Policies for specified reasons related to certain military deployments. However, an employee may take up to 26 weeks of FML in a single 12-month period to care for a covered service member with a serious injury or illness. How will I know if I’m eligible and approved for FML? Once the employee has submitted the FML application, it will be reviewed for eligibility. The eligibility process begins with confirming the employee worked 12 months and 1,250 hours within the 12 months. Once the eligibility is confirmed, the employee will receive communication via email, certified letter, or both, confirming an approval or denial of the FML request.
Requesting FML requires the employee to submit a Request for Family Medical Leave form. The employee will complete page 1 of the form and submit the Certification for Healthcare Provider form to their physician for completion. If an employee submits their request to HR without the completed physician’s statement, the employee is given a 10 day period to submit the completed FML application. If the certification is not provided in a timely manner, the request for FML will be denied. What do I have to do when I am ready to come back to work? In all cases, employees must contact their supervisor and Personnel Services before returning to work. They must, with the exception of Care for Family Member, provide their supervisors and Personnel Services with a copy of their Fitness for Duty release five working days before returning. The Fitness for Duty release should include any necessary work restrictions or modifications. Where do I go for more information? Contact Kristian Vitales at 281-727-2079 for additional information.
 
Questions / Contact Information
Mayra Gonzalez
Benefits Specialist
P: 281-727-2079