Family and Medical Leave
In compliance with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), unpaid leave is available to employees under the following circumstances:
- To care for a newborn or adopted child
- To care for, or ease the transition of, an adopted child or child placed in the home through foster care
- To care for a spouse, child or parent with a serious health condition
- An employee’s own serious health condition
- To care for a family member injured during active military duty
- To ease in the transition when a family member is called to or returning from active military duty
Employees who have been employed at least 12 months and worked at least 1,250 hours during the preceding 12 months are eligible to take unpaid time off for Family and Medical Leave. Having met the applicable service requirements, employees may be granted up to a total of 12 weeks of family or medical leave combined during any “rolling” 12-month period and up to 26 weeks of leave to care for a family member injured while on active military duty. A “rolling” 12-month period measured backwards from the date an employee takes leave will be used for computing the period within which the leave may be taken. Any accrued paid time off and/or Life Event Pay must be used before using unpaid time. For employees who are married or in an equivalent relationship, and are both employed at Augustana, the total maximum leave under law is 12 weeks. In all cases, all forms of employee leave, whether paid or unpaid, will run concurrently with FMLA.
How and when to request leave
Employees requiring time off from work for one of the reasons identified above must notify the employer of the need for leave by completing a Request for Family/Medical Leave process with the college’s designated vendor Symetra. Requests can be made by visiting www.symetra.com/mygo or by phone at 1-877-377-6773. Please provide the following policy number (01-017809-00). This request must be made 30 days in advance of the leave when the need for leave is foreseeable. If the need for leave is not foreseeable, leave must be requested as soon as is practical. Failure to give advance notice might result in the request being denied until the 30-day notice period is met when applicable.
Intermittent and reduced schedule leave
Leave may be taken intermittently as deemed necessary. Depending on the circumstance, a reduced schedule may be created to accommodate the leave needs of an employee. If leave is unpaid, the college will reduce the employee’s pay to reflect the amount of time actually worked. In addition, employees on an intermittent or reduced leave schedule may be temporarily transferred to an available alternative position that better accommodates the need for leave and which has equivalent pay and benefits.
If leave is requested for a serious health condition, for either the employee or the employee’s family member, a medical certification will be required. This certification will be coordinated and provided to the college’s vendor, Symetra. The certification requires information from the employee and the relevant health care provider and must be completed to determine eligibility within provided timelines. Failure to provide requested certification within designated timelines may result in denial of the request.
Definition of “Serious Health Condition”
Under FMLA, a serious health condition is an illness, injury, impairment or physical or mental condition that involves inpatient care (defined as an overnight stay in a hospital, hospice or residential medical care facility; any overnight admission to such facilities) or continuing treatment by a health care provider that results in an incapacity (inability to work or participate in other daily activities) of more than three consecutive calendar days. Included as a serious health condition are:
• Chronic conditions that require periodic visits to a health care provider over an extended period of time
• Permanent or long-term conditions
• Conditions requiring multiple treatments and recovery from treatments
• Treatment for substance abuse by a health care provider or by a provider of health care services on referral by a health care provider
Definition of “Chronic Health Condition”
Under FMLA, a chronic health condition is defined as a condition that requires visits at least twice a year for treatment by a health care provider, or by a nurse under direct supervision of a health care provider, that continues over an extended period of time and may cause episodic rather than a continuing period of incapacity.
Definition of “Family Member” covered under FMLA
• SPOUSE: Defined as a husband or wife, including those in same-sex marriages.
• PARENT: Defined as a biological, adoptive, step or foster father or mother or any other individual who stood in loco parentis to the employee when he or she was a minor.
• SON or DAUGHTER: Defined as biological, adopted or foster child, a stepchild, a legal ward, or a child of a person standing in loco parentis who is either under age 18 or age 18 or older and “incapable of self-care because of a mental or physical disability.”
Additional definition regarding coverage of adult children (son or daughter 18 years of age or older) under FMLA:
A disability is a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of an individual and may be considered “incapable of self-care.” Major life activities include, but are not limited to, activities such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, eating, standing, reaching, breathing, communicating, and interacting with others, as well as major bodily functions, such as functions of the brain or immune system, or normal cell growth. Conditions that are episodic or in remission are considered disabilities if the condition would substantially limit a major life activity when active.
To be “incapable of self-care” means that the “son or daughter” requires active assistance or supervision to provide daily self-care in three or more of the “activities of daily living” (ADLs) or “instrumental activities of daily living” (IADLs).
• ADLs – Grooming and hygiene, bathing, dressing and eating.
• IADLs – Cooking, cleaning, shopping, taking public transportation, paying bills, maintaining a residence, using telephones, using a post office, etc.
The disability of the son or daughter does not have to have occurred or been diagnosed prior to the age of 18. The onset of a disability may occur at any age for purposes of the definition of a “son or daughter” under FMLA.
Service Member Family and Medical Leave
The leave amounts for easing the transition during a call to active duty or return to active duty are the same as other FMLA leave listed above.
Activities to ease the transition include, but are not limited to: attending certain military events; arranging for alternative childcare; addressing certain financial and legal arrangements; attending certain counseling sessions; and attending post-deployment reintegration briefings. If leave is required to assist in the care of a covered service member who is ill or injured during active duty, a total of 26 weeks of leave is available for the 12-month period as described above. A covered service member is a current member of the Armed Forces, including a member of the National Guard or Reserves, who has a serious illness or injury—incurred in the line of duty on active duty that may render the service member medically unfit to perform his or her duties—for which the service member is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation or therapy, or is in outpatient status, or is on the temporary disability retired list.
Reporting While on Leave
If employees take leave because of their own serious health condition or to care for a covered relative, the employees must follow the reporting requirements set out by the college’s designated vendor Symetra.
Health Insurance and Other Benefits
During an approved leave as defined above, the employer will maintain health benefits as if the employee continued to be actively employed. However, if an employee elects not to return to work at the end of the leave period, the employee will be required to reimburse the college for the cost of the health insurance premiums paid by the college for maintaining coverage during the leave, unless the employee cannot return to work because of a serious health condition or because of other circumstances beyond the employee’s control.
If an employee is utilizing unpaid leave during Family Medical Leave, the employee will be responsible for making payment arrangements for any premiums for elected insurance coverages. Retirement contributions will be made only during times of paid leave.
Break/Holiday Periods While on FMLA
If an employee is on FMLA leave the entire week in which the holiday/break period falls, the employer will count the holiday/break period as FMLA leave. If the employee works for part of the week in which the holiday/break period occurs, then the holiday/break period does not count as FMLA leave. While on leave, paid time off will not accrue.
Returning to Work
Upon return from FMLA leave, employees will be reinstated to their former, or equivalent, positions with the same compensation and benefits received before their leave, provided their positions have not been eliminated because of restructuring or layoffs. Employees must return to work upon the expiration of any approved leave, and failure to do so may be considered a voluntary termination of employment by the employee. Certification from a medical provider stating that the employee is able to return to work will be required.