5:185 - Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

Policy 5:185

Personnel

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

This policy is subject to any provisions of collective bargaining agreements between the Board and its employees. In the event of conflict between an applicable collective bargaining agreement and this policy, the collective bargaining agreement controls.

Under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, as amended (“FMLA”), an eligible District employee is entitled to twelve (12) work weeks of unpaid family/medical leave during any rolling-backward twelve-month period for the following qualifying purposes:

  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 essential functions of the 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 the person 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 to care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness may be extended to a total of 26 weeks of unpaid leave (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, in a 12-month period, 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, and only 26 weeks for FMLA leave to care for a covered servicemember as described above.

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 the staff member 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 the teacher 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. If an employee’s paid leave is exhausted before completion of the applicable FMLA period, the FMLA leave may continue on an unpaid basis for the remainder of the applicable FMLA period.

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.

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 the staff member 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. If an employee does not return to work after an unpaid FMLA leave, the employee shall repay the cost of health insurance premiums paid by the Board unless the employee's failure to return is due to (a) the continuation, recurrence or onset of a serious health condition of the employee, or the employee’s family member, or a serious injury or illness of a covered servicemember, which would otherwise entitle the employee to FMLA leave or (b) other circumstances beyond the employee's control.

Certification

Within 15 calendar days after the Superintendent or designee makes a request for certification for a FMLA leave, an employee must provide one of the following:

  1. When the leave is to care for the employee's covered family member with a serious health condition, the employee must provide a complete and sufficient certificate signed by the family member's health care provider.
  2. When the leave is due to the employee's own serious health condition, the employee must provide a complete and sufficient certificate signed by the employee's health care provider.
  3. When the leave is to care for a covered servicemember with a serious illness or injury, the employee must provide a complete and sufficient certificate signed by an authorized health care provider for the covered servicemember.
  4. 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, and (b) a statement or description, signed by the employee, of appropriate facts regarding the qualifying exigency for which FMLA leave is requested.

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, (1) the employee requests a leave extension, (2) the circumstances described by the original certification change significantly, or (3) the 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. This does not grant an employee greater rights to reinstatement, benefits, or conditions of employment than if the employee had been continuously employed.

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 made 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; December 16, 2019

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