4.05 Family Medical Leave of Absence

Origination date: 10/01/93
Revised: 01/01/2000, 04/01/2018
Applicability: Any employee meeting eligibility requirements

Purpose 

The purpose of this policy is to comply with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993, as amended; the National Defense Authorization Act, as amended; and all implementing regulations. All references to the FMLA include these laws and regulations.  Should this policy conflict with current federal regulations, the University will comply with the federal regulations.

Eligibility

Employees who have been working for the university for at least 12 months directly prior to the beginning date of the requested Family Medical Leave of Absence and have worked at least 1,250 hours during that twelve months may be eligible for Family Medical Leave of Absence.

Duration and Qualifying Reasons

An eligible employee may request a total of twelve work weeks of Family Medical Leave of Absence during any twelve month period for one or more of the following reasons:

  • the birth or adoption of a child of an employee.
  • the placement of a child with an employee for adoption or foster care.
  • to care for the spouse, or child, or parent of an employee if such spouse, child, or parent has a serious health condition.
  • a serious health condition that prevents an employee from performing the essential job functions of his/her position.
  • any qualified exigency arising out of the fact that an eligible employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is on active duty with the armed forces, or called to active duty status 

The entitlement to leave for the birth or placement of a child shall expire at the end of a twelve month period beginning on the date of such birth or placement.

An eligible employee may request a total of twenty six work weeks of Family Medical Leave of Absence during any twelve month period to care for a spouse, son, daughter, parent or relative for whom the employee is next of kin, who is a current member of the Armed forces with a serious illness or injury incurred in the line of duty on active duty.

Family Medical Leave of Absence may be taken in a continuous block of time, intermittently or by working a reduced schedule, in order to care for a spouse, child, parent or qualified member of the armed forces who has a serious health condition, or because a serious health condition prevents an employee from performing the job functions of their position, or for reasons of qualified exigency.  However, the employee must try to schedule leave so as not to disrupt departmental or university operations.  The taking of leave intermittently or on a reduced leave schedule shall not result in a reduction in the total amount of leave to which the employee is entitled.

Leave to bond with a child after the birth or placement must be taken as a continuous block of leave unless the department head agrees to allow intermittent or reduced schedule leave based on business need.

Family Medical Leave of Absence will run concurrently with Extended Medical Leave of Absence, Parental Leave of Absence, and Industrial Leave of Absence, as applicable.

With the exception of Extended Military Leave of Absence (see policy #4.15), in no instance will combined paid or unpaid leaves of absence, for which the employee is eligible, be for more than 6 months (calculated as 183 full or partial days).

Northern Arizona University’s Human Resources Department may designate an employee’s absence from work as Family Medical Leave of Absence without a specific request for Family Medical Leave Absence from the employee if sufficient information is available to determine the absence is covered under FMLA.

Unauthorized or fraudulent use of this benefit may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination.

Pay Status

To remain in a paid status, employees are required to report all time away from work following Human Resources Department procedures. The university will require the employee to use accrued sick and/or vacation time, as defined by policy, for all or any part of the Family Medical Leave of Absence period necessary to maintain a fully paid status.  Use of paid time off will occur in the order of all available sick time and then vacation time.  Non-exempt employees may also use accumulated compensatory time balances after sick and vacation time are depleted.

The employee will be on an unpaid status when accrued sick and vacation time balances are depleted.

Employee Responsibilities

Requests for Family Medical Leave of Absence must be submitted following Human Resources Department procedures and made at least thirty days in advance of the need for leave for birth, adoption, planned medical treatment, or as a military caregiver when the need for such leave is foreseeable.  Failure to follow procedures or timelines may result in the denial or delay of Family Medical Leave of Absence. 

The thirty-day advance request is not required in cases of medical emergency, qualifying exigency, or other unforeseen events.  The employee shall provide as much notice as is practicable, however, to avoid disrupting the operations of the university.

Appropriate certifications are required for all requests for Family Medical Leave of Absence and must be provided within 15 calendar days from the date the employee is notified that it is required.  Failure to provide medical certification may delay commencement of the leave or may result in denial of the request.

An employee may be required to provide recertification at thirty day intervals during the Family Medical Leave of Absence period.

Employees who have requested a Family Medical Leave of Absence must provide Human Resources and their department up to date contact information (e-mail, phone and home address) for the duration of their leave of absence.  In addition, they must respond to inquiries from Human Resources and their department in a timely manner.

It is the employee’s responsibility to notify Human Resources and their supervisor of the intent to return to work at least two weeks prior to reporting back to work to facilitate planning and completion of paperwork.  A physician’s release will be required if the Family Medical Leave of Absence is based on the employee’s own medical condition.

If an employee’s expected return to work date changes due to their medical condition, the employee must provide Human Resources an updated certificate of health care provider indicating a new estimated return to work date as soon as the information becomes available, but no later than the original return to work date.  If an employee does not return to work on the expected return date, any additional time away may be considered an unauthorized absence.

Effect on Benefits

Voluntary Benefits: The university will continue to pay the employer's portion of voluntary benefits premiums, including medical and dental insurance for the duration of the Family Medical Leave of Absence whether the employee is in paid or unpaid status.  While in a paid status, premiums will continue to be collected through payroll deductions.  If the employee is in an unpaid status, premiums will be collected through personal payments.  However, if the employee’s portion of the premium payment is more than 30 days late, the university may discontinue coverage.

Leave Accruals: Vacation and sick hours will accrue while an employee is on a paid status.

Retirement:  No refund of any retirement contribution is made upon the commencement of the leave, since the return of the employee is anticipated.  Service credits do not accrue during any period of unpaid leave, but will commence upon the employee's return to work.

Other Benefits: The educational aid benefit remains in effect for employees during the leave period as does the use of university facilities.

Continuous Service: Computation of service dates for continuous service, vacation accrual rates, seniority, and general pay adjustments will include this leave as creditable service providing the employee returns to work on the first workday following the termination of the authorized leave.

Return to Work

The granting of Family Medical Leave of Absence will in most circumstances be followed by the employee’s return to their former or essentially equal position.  The practical effect of this is that the department head should hold the employee's regular position anticipating the employee's return from Family Medical Leave of Absence.  However, the department head can hire a temporary replacement for the duration of the leave. 

If the leave is based on the employee’s own medical condition, the employee is responsible for providing adequate documentation to support a return to work.

An employee who is unable to return to the full duties and schedule of their position upon expiration of the maximum leave of absence time allowed by university policy is not guaranteed continued employment.

Employees with disabilities are encouraged to consult with the Disability Resources Office regarding possible reasonable accommodation which may provide additional leave options and/or assist them to return to work.

If the university has reason to question the capacity of an employee to perform duties and responsibilities, the university may choose to require the employee to be examined by a physician of the university’s choosing for a “fitness for duty” examination.

Failure to Return or Accept Employment

An employee will be considered to have voluntarily terminated employment if they:

  • fail to return to work upon the  expiration of the approved Family Medical Leave of Absence or any extension thereof; or
  • fail to contact their department head at least two weeks prior to the end of the Family Medical Leave of Absence to request an extension ( if applicable); or
  • advise the university of their intention not to return to work; or
  • refuse comparable reemployment.

An employee who voluntarily terminates at the end of the Family Medical Leave of Absence for reasons listed above, will be required to return to the university the full insurance premiums paid by the university on behalf of that employee during the period of the Family Medical Leave of Absence. 

Continuation of Leave after Family Medical Leave of Absence

Employees who require additional leave from work beyond the 12 weeks provided in this policy may request an extended leave of absence in accordance with policy 4.04 Extended Medical Leave of Absence.