Policy No: 2096 Responsible Office: Human Resources Last Review Date: 10/19/2022 Next Required Review: 10/19/2027
Family Medical Leave
This policy provides information about the Family Medical Leave (FML) benefit, and is governed by the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993, and the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2008.
This policy applies to all staff employees and faculty of the University General Division and USA Health.
4. Policy Guidelines
If you are an eligible employee, you may take leave from your job for a limited period of time to address certain family responsibilities as defined below or for your own serious health condition. The University formally established its FML policy for the benefit of eligible employees under the following terms and conditions.
You are eligible for FML if you have been employed by the University for at least 12 months and have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours during the 12-month period prior to the time leave would begin under this policy. Hours are calculated based upon actual hours that you worked, including overtime. All requests for FML are contingent upon a determination by the University that you are eligible for FML. Exempt employees who have at least 12 months prior service and have been employed full-time for seven months meet the 1,250-hour requirement.
This policy and the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) are only intended to cover serious health conditions - generally those which involve three or more days of incapacity from work or school, or chronic, long-term, or incurable conditions. If you wish to take leave to care for family members with non-serious health conditions, you are not eligible for FML.
5.1 Provisions and Qualifying Reasons
Eligible employees may take an unpaid FML leave of absence of up to 90 calendar days per rolling year, inclusive of paid sick leave, vacation, or PTO hours, as applicable. A rolling year is the 12-month period measured backward from the date an employee uses any leave under the FML. Available leave will be calculated by determining the amount of FML you have used during the current rolling year. You are limited to a maximum of 90 calendar days per rolling year inclusive of paid sick leave, vacation, or PTO hours, as applicable.
Provided the procedures in this policy are followed, FML may be requested for any of the following qualifying reasons:
5.1.1 Your serious health condition that renders you unable to perform your essential job functions.
5.1.2 Care for a “dependent child, spouse or parent of the employee if that individual has a serious health condition. Dependent child for the purposes of FML is defined as a biological, adopted, or foster child, a stepchild, a legal ward or a child of a person standing in loco parentis, who is under age 18, or age 18 or older and incapable of self-care because of a mental or physical disability at the time that FML is to commence;
5.1.3 Birth or adoption of a child, or the foster care placement of a child. FMLA intermittent leave to care for a newborn child, or a child newly placed with the employee for adoption or foster care must be approved by the employee’s supervisor and/or department/unit head. The leave must be completed within 12 months of the date of birth or placement for adoption or foster care.
5.1.4 Active Duty Qualifying Events. Due to any qualifying event related to the spouse, son, daughter or parent of the employee being on active duty (or has been notified of an impending call or order to active duty) in the Armed Forces, National Guard or Reserves in support of a contingency operation.
5.2 Military Caregiver Leave
The University will grant Military Family Leave to an eligible employee who is the spouse, son, daughter, parent or next of kin of a covered service member, a total of 26 work weeks of leave, with appropriate medical certification, to care for a member of the Armed Forces, including a member of the National Guard or Reserves, who is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation or therapy, is otherwise in an outpatient status, or is on the temporary disability retired list, for a serious injury or illness. Military Family Leave may be used to care for veterans undergoing treatment, recuperation or therapy for an injury, as long as the veteran was a member of the Armed Forces, National Guard or Reserves within five years of needing care. Military Family Leave may also be used to care for a covered service member’s serious injury or illness incurred because service on active duty aggravated an existing or pre-existing injury. This leave will only be available during a single 12-month period.
5.3 Employed Married Couples
If a husband and wife both work for the University and are eligible for leave, they are entitled to a combined total of 90 calendar days of FML for birth, adoption, foster care, to care for a parent or due to any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the spouse, son, daughter or parent of the employee is on active duty (or has been notified of an impending call or order to active duty) in the Armed Forces in support of a contingency operation. If the leave is requested for your own serious health condition, the care of the other spouse, or the care of a sick child, each spouse is entitled to up to 90 calendar days of leave.
If military caregiver leave is requested, and if a husband and wife both work for the University and are eligible for leave, they are entitled to a combined total of 26 work weeks during a single 12-month period.
5.4 Intermittent Leave
If you are taking leave for a serious health condition or to care for a seriously ill family member, you may take leave on an intermittent basis or by reducing your scheduled work hours. You must provide certification from the health care provider stating that the leave must be taken in this manner, that it is medically necessary and that there is a specific duration and schedule for such leave. If you are taking leave due to active duty status of a spouse, son, daughter or parent in the Armed Forces, the University may require that the request be supported by a certification. If leave is taken intermittently, it will be deducted from your entitlement to leave during the current rolling year, in minimum increments of 15 minutes.
In all cases of intermittent and reduced-schedule leaves, the University reserves the right to require you to transfer temporarily to an available alternative position for which you are qualified with comparable pay and benefits that better accommodates your need for leave and/or the University’s day-to-day operations.
If the leave is for the planned medical treatment of you or a family member, or requires intermittent or reduced schedule leave, you may be required by your supervisor to arrange a particular schedule or to reschedule appointments or treatments so as not to disrupt the operations of the department. Adjustments to work schedules are subject to approval by management.
It is the University’s responsibility to designate leave, whether paid or unpaid, as “FMLA qualifying”. That designation is based on information provided by the employee. If Human Resources has questions regarding the information provided, additional information may be required before classifying leave as FMLA qualifying.
All verbal or written requests for FML should be initiated by contacting your immediate supervisor. If the need for FML is foreseeable, you must provide notice of not less than 30 days to your supervisor. Leave will be denied unless there is a reasonable excuse for the delay. If leave is denied due to lack of notice, you may request leave to start 30 days after proper notice is given. To request FML please complete the applicable Leave of Absence Request form:
General Division Employees (Campus): www.southalabama.edu/departments/eforms/hr/leaveofabsence.pdf
USA Health Employees: www.southalabama.edu/departments/eforms/hr/ptoleaveofabsencerequestform.pdf
If the need for FML is not foreseeable, you must give notice as soon as possible and practicable, ordinarily within one to two working days. If you are unable to do so, notice may be given by your spouse or other family member. If the need for leave due to active duty of a family member is foreseeable, whether because the spouse, son, daughter or parent of the employee is on active duty, or because of notification of an impending call or order to active duty in support of a contingency operation, the employee shall provide notice that is reasonable and practicable.
After receiving a request for FML, Human Resources will provide additional information regarding leave procedures, answer questions with regard to the effects of the FML, and advise as to any additional documents that may be required to complete the request for FML.
5.6 Medical Certification
The University reserves the right to require proof of necessity for FML by a health care provider on the Certificate of Health Care Provider form. Certification should be provided within 15 calendar days of the date the information is requested by the University. Failure to submit the certification within the 15 calendar days as required may result in the denial of FML.
The University reserves the right to require a second medical opinion at its own expense. If the first and second opinions differ, the University, at its own expense, may require the binding opinion of a third health care provider, approved jointly by the University and the employee.
The University reserves the right to request periodic recertification after30 days, or more frequently, if the employee requests an extension of the leave, circumstances change during the illness or injury, or the University receives information that questions the continuing validity of the most recent certification.
Requests for additional information or questions relating to the medical certification process should be directed to Human Resources. All medical certifications of serious health conditions are maintained on a confidential basis in Human Resources. Access is limited to supervisors on a need-to-know basis.
5.7 Employee Benefits While on FML
During an approved FML, the University will continue to pay the employer portion of the health insurance premium. While on paid FML, your portion of health insurance premiums will be deducted from your paycheck. To continue health coverage with-out interruption, while on unpaid FML, payments should be made directly to the Payroll Office no later than the 25th of the month for the next month’s coverage. If you are a USA Health & Dental Plan participant and wish to add a dependent due to birth or adoption, you must complete an application with Human Resources within 30 days of the change in status.
During FML, the University will continue to pay the basic life and disability insurance premiums. While on paid FML, deductions for additional life insurance premiums will continue to be made through payroll deduction. To continue additional life insurance coverage during unpaid FML, you should pay the normal premium directly to the Payroll Office no later than the 25th of the month for the next month’s coverage. While on unpaid FML, benefits coverage(s) will end if you fail to make the required payments within 30 days of the due date. You may prepay health insurance and additional life insurance premiums prior to commencement of FML.
Your anniversary date will not be affected as a result of FML. Length of service will continue to accumulate during unpaid FML, but will not be used for computing earned vacation, sick and PTO hours. No additional sick leave, vacation or PTO hours accrue while you are on unpaid FML.
While on FML, you are only eligible for the Educational Benefit if you met the eligibility requirement at the time of registration.
Upon return from FML, health insurance coverage that has been allowed to lapse may be reinstated, the employee must complete an Application for coverage and file it with the Human Resources department within 30 days from the return to work date. Coverage begins on the first day of the month following the return to work date. Reinstatement of additional life insurance, that has been allowed to lapse, may be requested; however, you may be required to provide proof of insurability.
5.8 Returning to Work
Following your FML, you will be returned to your same position or to an equivalent position at the option of the University, unless you would have been terminated during your leave of absence (e.g. layoff, reorganization).
The University requires an employee returning to work from FML to present a fitness-for-duty certification prior to reinstatement if taking FML for their own serious health condition. The University reserves the right to make additional medical inquiries and/or require follow-up examinations, at its expense, to ensure employees can safely perform the essential functions of the job. These medical inquiries will be conducted in accordance with the University’s policy as well as state and federal law. During FML the University reserves the right to require you to recertify (at 30 to 60-day intervals) the medical condition that caused you to take leave.
It is your responsibility to notify your supervisor of your intent to return to work or any changes in your leave status prior to the ending date of your FML. Failure to do so may be considered as voluntary resignation.
When you notify the University that you are not returning from FML, the University will terminate your health benefits and you will no longer have the right to reinstatement to the same or equivalent position. You will be entitled to continuation of health benefits in accordance with COBRA and the provisions of the USA Health & Dental Plan.
5.9 Family Medical Leave (FML) Pay Options in the Traditional Earned Time Off Program
During the 90 days of FML, the following use of sick and vacation leave applies: If the purpose of the leave is your own serious illness, you will be required to use any accrued sick leave, subject to the University’s sick leave policy. Thereafter, you may take accrued vacation. During maternity leave, up to six weeks of accrued sick leave must be taken, if available. However, sick leave may not be used to extend maternity leave beyond 90 calendar days. Paid sick leave will not normally exceed six weeks during maternity leave. Thereafter, you may take accrued vacation.
If the purpose of the leave is to care for a seriously ill family member, you may take up to 480 hours (60 work days) of paid sick leave for an approved full or intermittent FML. If the purpose of the leave is to care for your spouse who is recuperating from childbirth, adoption or the foster care placement of a child, up to six weeks of accrued sick leave must be taken, if available. Thereafter, you may take accrued vacation.
If the purpose of the leave is due to the active military duty of a family member, you may take accrued vacation. If the purpose of the leave is to provide care of a covered service member, you may take up to 480 hours (60 work days) of paid sick leave with approved for full or intermittent FML.
If you are absent due to illness during a holiday, if eligible, you will be granted holiday pay in lieu of sick/vacation pay. If you are in an unpaid status on the scheduled day before and the scheduled day after the holiday during a leave of absence, you will not be paid for a holiday which occurs during your absence.
Unless you have accrued sick leave or vacation, any FML will be unpaid. If you take FML, you will not receive a refund of TRS retirement contributions since a return to work is anticipated.
5.10 Family Medical Leave (FML) Pay Options in the PTO Program
During the 90 days of FML, the following use of PTO applies: If the purpose of the leave is your own serious illness, maternity leave or for the care of your spouse who is recuperating from childbirth, you will be required to first use 40 hours of PTO. Thereafter, PTO use is voluntary. However, employees may not use PTO hours (if available) to extend maternity leave beyond 90 calendar days.
If the purpose of the leave is to care for a seriously ill family member, the birth or adoption of a child, to care for a newborn child or the foster care placement of a child; due to the active duty status of a family member, or to provide care of a covered service member, you must use PTO.
Unless you have PTO available and either elect or are required to utilize it, any FML will be unpaid.
Employees hired prior to October 1, 2010, may have Extended Employee Illness (EEI) hours. If applicable, these hours may be used when all three of the following conditions are met:
- only for your own illness or injury;
- after the first 40 consecutive hours of an illness/injury or leave for pregnancy (based on FTE); and
- with your treating physician’s certification.
5.11 Reasonable Accommodation Request
The University is committed to nondiscrimination and employment of qualified individuals with physical and mental disabilities in accordance with the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as amended by the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA), and state and local laws and ordinances. The University’s attendance policy is subject to requests for reasonable accommodation under the ADA and ADAAA.
It is the employee’s responsibility to request an accommodation. Requests for a workplace accommodation will require the employee to complete the University’s Employee Accommodation Request form and submit it to Human Resources for review. The University may require written documentation of the employee’s limitations from an appropriate health care provider. If obtaining this information is necessary, the employee will be provided with a Medical Inquiry form for the health care provider to complete. Once the required documentation is reviewed and approved, the University will engage in the interactive process with the employee in seeking the availability of a reasonable accommodation.
If the request for a workplace accommodation is granted, implementation of the accommodation will be handled by the employee’s department with guidance provided by Human Resources. The employee who has been granted a workplace accommodation must report changes in the ongoing need for the accommodation.
The University’s Human Resources department is responsible for implementing this policy, including the resolution of reasonable accommodation, safety/direct threat, and undue hardship issues.
Human Resources Department owns and administrates the provisions of this policy. Requests for further information or clarification with regard to this policy should be directed to Human Resources. Failure to abide by terms of this policy may jeopardize a staff employee’s ability to quality for the benefit.
7. Related Documents
7.1 University General Division (Campus) Leave of Absence Request Form
7.2 USA Health Leave of Absence Request Form
7.3 Military Leave (policy)
7.4 Sick Leave (policy)
7.5 Disaster Medical Assistance Team Leave (policy)
7.6 Staff Employee Handbook
7.7 Workplace Accommodations (policy)