Employee Benefits - Leave and Holidays
C.E.S.P. 7-18: Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
Date Revised: 5-13-2014
Summary: Establishes policy regarding the Family and Medical Leave Act.
The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 is a federal law intended to promote a healthy balance between work and family responsibilities. It requires employers to provide up to 12 weeks per year of unpaid, job-protected leave to eligible employees for certain family and medical reasons and requires employers to continue to offer health and dental insurance at the employee rate. Employees are entitled to return to the position formerly occupied or to an equivalent position with equivalent benefits, pay, and other terms and conditions of employment.
To be eligible for FMLA leave, you must have been employed by the State (University of Arkansas or another Arkansas state institution or agency) for at least twelve months and must have worked at least 1,250 hours during the twelve-month period prior to the beginning of your leave.
FMLA leave may be granted for:
- Care of an employee's child after birth or placement for adoption or foster care;
- Care of an employee's spouse, child, or parent (not a parent “in-law") who has a serious
- A serious health condition that prevents the employee from performing essential job
- Family leave due to a Call to Active Duty when a spouse, son, daughter or parent is
on activity duty or has been notified of an impending order to active duty in the
- Care for an injured service member by a spouse, son, daughter, parent, or nearest blood relative of a recovering service member.
Definition of Serious Health Condition
A serious health condition is defined as a condition that requires inpatient care at a hospital, hospice or residential medical care facility, including any period of incapacity or any subsequent treatment in connection with such inpatient care or a condition that requires continuing care by a licensed health care provider.
This policy covers illnesses of a serious and long-term nature, resulting in recurring or lengthy absences. Generally, a chronic or long-term health condition that would result in a period of three consecutive days of incapacity with the first visit to the health care provider within seven days of the onset of the incapacity and a second visit within 30 days of the incapacity would be considered a serious health condition. For chronic conditions requiring periodic health care visits for treatment, such visits must take place at least twice a year.
If an employee takes paid sick leave for a condition that progresses into a serious health condition and the employee requests unpaid leave as provided under this policy, Extension may designate all or some portion of related leave taken as leave under this policy, to the extent that the earlier leave meets the necessary qualifications.
FMLA begins when the leave is requested and approved. A completed Request for Consideration form should be submitted to Human Resources for eligibility determination and designation 30 days in advance when the need is foreseeable. Otherwise, an employee has 15 calendar days to submit the completed Request for Consideration form. The maximum entitlement is 12 weeks of unpaid, job protected leave during a calendar year (January through December). The leave may be taken on a continuous basis or intermittently.
If a husband and wife both work for Extension and each wishes to take leave for the birth of a child, adoption or placement of a child in foster care, or to care for a parent (but not a parent "in-law") with a serious health condition, the husband and wife may only take a combined total of 12 weeks of unpaid, job protected leave.
FMLA entitlement runs simultaneously with sick and annual leaves, so an employee's job protection will end when combined sick leave, annual leave, and FMLA entitlement are exhausted. An employee must use all accrued sick and annual leave simultaneously with FMLA leave, except in cases of maternity leave and placement for adoption and foster care. Employees on maternity leave may elect to take a leave without pay without exhausting accumulated sick and annual leave. Sick leave may not be used for placement for adoption and foster care.
FMLA and Workers' Compensation run simultaneously, provided that the reason for the absence is due to a qualifying serious illness or injury.
Extension will continue to pay the employer's matching portion of group health, dental, basic life, and basic long-term disability insurance coverages for employees considered protected under the FMLA. The employee is responsible for paying his/her portion of the group health and dental premiums, and for all additional optional insurance premiums. If the employee does not continue to pay these premiums, the insurance will be canceled. Coverage may be reinstated upon returning to work without any qualifying period, physical examination, or exclusion of pre-existing conditions.
Extension's obligation to maintain health and dental benefits under the Family and Medical Leave Act ceases when an employee informs the employer of his/her intent not to return from leave or when the employee exhausts his/her Family and Medical Leave entitlement.
Extension may request recertification for the serious health condition of the employee or the employee’s family member no more frequently than every 30 days if circumstances have changed significantly, if Extension receives information casting doubt on the reason given for the absence, or if the employee seeks an extension of his or her leave. Otherwise, Extension is able to request recertification for the serious health condition of the employee or the employee’s family member every six months in connection with an FMLA absence. Extension may provide the employee’s health care provider with the employee’s attendance records and ask whether need for leave is consistent with the employee’s serious health condition.
The National Defense Authorization Act provides additional FMLA leave for military families. Under the new law, FMLA-eligible employees will now be entitled to the following:
- Family Leave Due to a Call to Active Duty- This benefit provides 12 weeks of FMLA leave due to a spouse, son, daughter or parent
being on active duty or having been notified of an impending call or order to active
duty in the Armed Forces. Leave may be used for any “qualifying exigency” arising
out of the service member’s current tour of active duty or because the service member
is notified of an impending call to duty in support of a contingency operation.
- Caregiver Leave for an Injured Service Member- This benefit provides up to 26 weeks of FMLA leave during a single 12-month period for a spouse, son, daughter, parent, or nearest blood relative caring for a recovering service member. A recovering service member is defined as a member of the Armed Forces who suffered an injury or illness while on active-duty that may render the person unable to perform the duties of the member’s office, grade, rank or rating. If a husband and wife both work for Extension and each wishes to take leave to care for a covered injured or ill service member, the husband and wife may only take a combined total of 26 weeks of leave.
Return from FMLA Leave
It is imperative for an employee to contact the supervisor to discuss any absences. The supervisor will work closely with the Payroll Department during FMLA absences.
When returning to work, the employee may be asked to provide a fitness-for-duty certification from the health care provider before being restored to the job. In the event that the employee receives an indication from a physician that an illness will extend beyond combined sick leave, annual leave, and FMLA entitlement, application for long-term disability should be made as soon as possible. Contact the Human Resources Office regarding the long-term disability application process.
Human Resources may designate FMLA status for an employee without a Request for Consideration or supporting documentation if they become aware of an employee's qualifying absence.
If you have questions about the Family and Medical Leave Act or the FMLA entitlement, please contact the Human Resources Office at 501-671-2219.
Please contact the Payroll Department for assistance with sick leave, annual leave, and leave without pay questions.
To apply for FMLA, submit the Request for Consideration to:
Human Resources Office
UA Cooperative Extension Service
2301 S. University Ave.
Little Rock, AR 72204