College Policy Number/Title:
Howard Community College (HCC) will comply with all requirements and regulations of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993, which provides job protection for specified periods of time with paid or unpaid leave for eligible employees under specified conditions.
Employees who have worked at HCC for 12 months and for at least 1,250 hours in the immediate 12-month period prior to the event are eligible for FMLA leave.
An eligible employee is entitled to up to 12 weeks per year of paid (if any) or unpaid FMLA leave for the birth of a child, and to care for such child; for the placement of a child for adoption or foster care; to care for the employee's seriously ill spouse, child, or parent; or because of a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform essential job functions. Extended leave of up to 26 weeks may be granted for qualifying reasons as noted under Military Family Leave.
Military Family Leave
Eligible employees are entitled to up to 12 weeks of leave because of “any qualifying exigency” arising because the spouse, son, daughter, or parent of the employee is on active duty, or has been notified of an impending call to active duty status, in support of a contingency operation. A “qualifying exigency” is defined as short-notice deployment, military events and related activities, child care and school activities, financial and legal arrangements, counseling, rest and recuperation, post-deployment activities, and additional activities where the employer and employee agree to the leave.
Notice of Need for Leave
An eligible employee who is the spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin of a covered servicemember who is recovering from a serious illness or injury sustained in the line of duty on active duty is entitled to up to 26 weeks of leave in a single 12-month period to care for the servicemember. Next of kin is defined as the nearest blood relative, other than the covered servicemember’s spouse, parent, son, or daughter, in the following order of priority: blood relatives who have been granted legal custody of the servicemember by court decree or statutory provisions, brothers and sisters, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and first cousins, unless the covered servicemember has specifically designated in writing another blood relative as her or his nearest blood relative for purposes of military caregiver leave under the FMLA.
Employees are required to give 30 days notice if possible, and if that is not possible, employees are asked to give the college as much notice as practicable. Failure to provide advance notice may result in a delay in the beginning of the leave.
Determination of FMLA Leave
As provided by law, it is the college's responsibility, through the office of human resources, to determine whether a specific leave request is FMLA leave, based on information provided by the employee. The law provides that leave of more than three days for a serious health condition falls under the FMLA. The college will provide employees with notification if the leave is deemed to be FMLA leave within five business days of the request for leave.
It is the responsibility of supervisors to notify the office of human resources of all absences of more than three days for sickness that may fall under the FMLA. The office of human resources will make the determination concerning whether or not a leave is covered under the FMLA upon receipt of medical certification.
Length of Leave
FMLA leave may be taken for up to 12 weeks in a year. A year is defined as a 12-month period measured forward from the date any employee's first FMLA leave begins. The 12 weeks include both paid (if any) and unpaid leave. An eligible employee is entitled to up to 26 weeks of FMLA leave for a recovering or injured servicemember as defined under Military Family Leave.
Form of Leave
The leave may be taken on a full-time basis for a period of up to 12 weeks, or on a reduced leave/intermittent basis, if medically required. Reduced or intermittent leave means any arrangement other than full-time leave for full days or weeks, and may be taken in increments as small as one hour. Such reduced or intermittent leave may be available for the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a child if the department head, area vice president, and the employee agree to this arrangement.
Medical certification is required for all FMLA leave and the college may require second and third opinions at the college's expense and may also require periodic medical statements verifying the continued need for leave. Appropriate documentation is required for FMLA leave related to the adoption of a child.
If the employee's need for FMLA leave lasts beyond a single FMLA leave year, the employer may require the employee to provide a new medical certification in each new FMLA leave year.
Employees who take 12 weeks or less of leave under the FMLA will be restored to the same or an equivalent job with equivalent employment benefits, pay, and other terms and conditions of employment at the end of the leave. Employees who take intermittent or reduced leave may be transferred to a different job with equivalent employment benefits, pay, and other terms and conditions of employment for the duration of the medical leave, so that the college can more reasonably accommodate the intermittent leave. In instances when medical leave is the result of an employee's own health condition, employees must provide medical certification that they are able to return to work prior to resuming work. Please see "Sick and Disability Leave or Absence" procedure 63.08.14 for leave beyond FMLA leave.
Continuation of Health Plan Coverage
If the employee is covered by the college's health plan, the same plan may be maintained while on FMLA leave and the college will continue to cover the usual employer contribution. Employees will continue to pay the usual employee contributions due at the same time as payroll deductions.
Continuation and Restoration of Other Benefits
Any other benefits the employee has will be continued if paid leave is used. If the FMLA leave is unpaid leave, other benefits will continue if the unpaid leave is one month or less. Unpaid leaves of more than one month duration do not include any other paid benefits beyond health insurance (see "Leave Without Pay" procedure 63.08.08). Benefits will be restored when the employee returns to work after 12 weeks or less of FMLA leave.
Paid Leave Availability
FMLA leave may be either paid, unpaid, or a combination of paid and unpaid leave. Whenever an employee requests leave for an FMLA covered event, the employee will be required to exhaust all accrued sick leave, personal leave, and annual leave for which they are eligible under college policy and procedures prior to being placed in unpaid leave status. Whether the leave is paid or unpaid, it will be counted toward the employee's 12-week entitlement in any given year. An automatic leave sequence, described below, will go into effect unless otherwise requested by the employee and approved by human resources.
Leave Beyond 12 Week Entitlement
Employees may have accrued paid leave balances available amounting to more than the 12 weeks mandated by the FMLA. It is the college's intention to honor such leave within budgeting and scheduling constraints. However, the college is not mandated to guarantee job restoration and this may not be possible (see “Sick and Disability Leave or Absence” procedure 63.08.14). Similarly, employees may be eligible for short-term disability (STD) or long-term disability (LTD) leave or insurance coverage for periods longer than 12 weeks; in such cases, it may not be possible to guarantee job restoration after leaves of greater than 12 weeks. Requests for leaves of longer than 12 weeks will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Difference Between FMLA and Other Leave
Twelve weeks of paid or unpaid FMLA leave per year is an entitlement provided by law to employees who meet eligibility and other requirements of the law. Other leave types are benefits provided by the college upon appropriate approval. Limitations on leave beyond the FMLA entitlement are governed by the college's policies and procedures, the college's budget limitations and the college's obligation to function as a public institution. There may be limitations on the length of disability leave; see "Sick and Disability Leave or Absence" procedure 63.08.14."
Accrual of Leave and Automatic Leave Sequence
For further information on the FMLA, please contact the office of human resources.
Effective Date: 11/8/13