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Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Policy

Approved By and Date:Board of Trustees02-20-2014
 Executive Leadership Team01-06-2014
 ICORE01-08-2014

Stanly Community College (SCC) complies with the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) (as amended).


Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Procedures

Approved By and Date:Executive Leadership Team01-06-2014
 ICORE01-08-2014

Rules

Employees who have been employed by the College for at least twelve months prior to the date leave is to commence, who have worked at least 1,250 hours over the previous twelve months, and who work at a location where fifty or more employees are employed by the College within 75 miles, are eligible for unpaid leave under FMLA.

Regulations

Eligible employees are entitled up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave during a twelve-month period for any of the following:

An eligible employee also may take FMLA leave as a result of having family members in the military for one or a combination of the following reasons:

For purposes of this type of leave, the 12-month period begins with the first day the employee takes covered service member leave. The 26 weeks of service member leave shall include any other type of FMLA leave referenced above, such that the total amount of FMLA leave to which an eligible employee is entitled during a single 12-month period is 26 weeks.

With the exception of covered service member leave, the College measures the “12 month period” for all types of FMLA leave on a rolling calendar basis. Therefore, any FMLA-qualifying leave taken in the 12 month period preceding the commencement of any requested leave will operate to reduce an employee’s entitlement to leave under the FMLA.

If FMLA leave is taken because of a serious health condition, because of a qualifying exigency (as defined above), or to care for a covered service member, the leave may be taken intermittently or on a reduced leave schedule if such leave is medically or otherwise necessary. Employees must make reasonable efforts to schedule leave for planned medical treatments so as not to unduly disrupt the College’s operations. If FMLA leave is taken because of the birth or placement of a child, intermittent leave or a reduced leave schedule is not permitted unless approved by the College.

An employee will be required to use his or her available annual leave during any FMLA leave and will be required to use his or her available sick leave when taking FMLA leave because of a serious health condition. During FMLA leave, an employee will not accrue employment benefits (annual leave, sick pay, etc.). Employment benefits accrued by an employee prior to the time any FMLA leave begins will not be forfeited.

During FMLA leave, the College will maintain the employee's health coverage under any group health plan on the same terms as if the employee had continued to work.

The employee must continue to pay the cost of dependent group health benefit premiums, as well as the employee’s share of individual premiums, if applicable. The payment of these premiums should be arranged with the Director of Human Resources prior to taking the first day of FMLA leave. Failure of the employee to pay his or her share of these premiums within 30 days of the due date may result in termination of group health coverage.

The College is generally entitled to recover all premiums paid by the College to maintain health coverage for employees who fail to return to work after FMLA leave. An employee must return to work for 30 days in order to avoid being obligated to repay such amounts. An employee will not have to repay such amounts if the failure to return to work is due to the continuation, recurrence, or onset of either a serious health condition of the employee or the employee’s family member, or a serious injury or illness of a covered service member, which would otherwise entitle the employee to leave under the FMLA, or other circumstances beyond the control of the employee.

Subject to certain exceptions (such as when the employee would not otherwise have been employed at the time reinstatement is requested, or the employee is within the category of employees where restoration would cause substantial and grievous economic injury to the College) employees who return to work from FMLA leave of no longer than 12 weeks in duration (or 26 weeks in the case of leave to care for a covered service member) are entitled to be reinstated to their original job or to an equivalent job with equivalent pay, benefits, and other employment terms and conditions. An employee who fails to return to work following FMLA leave may be terminated.

In order to restore any benefit, other than group health benefits, provided by insurance to the employee without the employee having to re-qualify for such benefits upon his/her return from leave, the College may find it necessary for premiums for such insurance to be paid continuously during the unpaid leave period to avoid a lapse of coverage. The College shall be entitled to recover the costs incurred for paying the employee’s share of any such premiums to maintain coverage of benefits during the employee's unpaid leave, whether or not the employee returns from leave, unless the employee does not return to work due to circumstances beyond the control of the employee.

  1. Basic Leave Entitlement
    • The birth and/or care of a newborn child of the employee (leave must be taken within 12 months of the child’s birth);
    • The placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care (leave must be taken within 12 months of the child’s placement);
    • A serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the functions of the employee's position;
    • In order to care for the employee’s spouse, child, or parent, if such family member has a serious health condition. Spouses employed by the College are jointly entitled to a combined total of twelve work weeks of family leave during any twelve-month period for the birth of a child, placement of a child for adoption or foster care, or to care for a parent who has a serious health condition.
  2. Military Family Leave Entitlement
    • Qualifying exigencies. Eligible employees with a spouse, child, or parent on covered active duty or recently called to covered active duty which requires deployment to, or return from, a foreign country, may take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a 12 month period to address certain qualifying exigencies, including attending certain military events, arranging for alternative childcare, addressing certain financial and legal arrangements, attending certain counseling sessions, and attending post deployment reintegration briefings.
    • Covered service member leave. An eligible employee who is the spouse, child, parent, or next of kin of a “covered service member” is entitled to a total of 26 weeks of unpaid leave in a 12-month period to care for the service member. A “covered service member” is a current member of the Armed Forces, including the National Guard or Reserves, as well as certain qualifying veterans, who is undergoing medical treatment, therapy, or recuperation (or who is otherwise in outpatient service or on the temporary disability retired list) due to having incurred or aggravated a serious injury or illness in the line of duty. In order to take leave to care for a veteran, the veteran must have been discharged or released from the military under conditions other than dishonorable at any time during the five (5) year period prior to the first date that the eligible employee takes FMLA leave to care for the covered veteran. Spouses employed by the College are jointly entitled to a combined total of 26 weeks to care for a service member.
  3. Designation of Paid Leave
  4. Maintenance of Health Benefits
  5. Job Restoration
  6. Maintenance of Other Benefits
  7. No Interference and No Retaliation

The College will not interfere with, restrain, or deny the exercise of any right provided under FMLA. The College also will not discharge or discriminate against any person for opposing any practice made unlawful by the FMLA or for participating in any proceeding relating to FMLA.

Procedures

  1. Notice and Reporting by Employees
    1. Employees desiring FMLA leave must give at least 30 days notice to the College of the need for leave, whenever foreseeable, following usual and customary procedures for reporting an absence. When foreseeable leave is due to a qualifying exigency, notice must be provided as soon as practical regardless of how far in advance leave was foreseeable. For qualifying exigency and military care giver reasons, employees must provide sufficient information to indicate need for FMLA leave with anticipated timing and duration of leave. When the approximate timing of the need for leave is not foreseeable, an employee must provide notice as soon as practicable.
    2. Whenever leave is needed for planned medical treatment, whether for an immediate family member or the employee, the employee should make efforts to schedule the treatment so as to minimize disruption to the operations of the College.
    3. An employee on FMLA leave will be required to report periodically on his/her status and intention to return to work.
    4. Employees should advise the College if and when they decide unequivocally not to return to work.
    5. If an employee fails to give 30 days notice for foreseeable leave with no reasonable excuse for the delay, the College may deny the taking of the FMLA leave until at least 30 days after the date the employee provides notice.
  2. Designation of Leave
    1. It is the College's responsibility to determine that an employee is eligible for FMLA leave. An employee may submit an application for FMLA leave which can be obtained from the HR department. However, the determining factor in designating FMLA leave is the qualifying reason(s), not the employee's election or reluctance to use FMLA leave or to use all, some, or none of the accrued leave. The College's designation must be based on information obtained from the employee or the employee's authorized representative.
    2. If an employee notifies the College of the need for FMLA leave before the employee meets the eligibility criteria, the College will:
      1. Confirm the employee's eligibility effective on the date leave is to start, or
      2. Advise the employee when the requirement will be met.
    3. Employees seeking to use FMLA leave may be required, at the election of the College, to provide:
      1. Medical certifications supporting the need for leave due to a serious health condition affecting the employee, an immediate family member, or a covered service member no later than 15 calendar days after the request by the College, unless it is not practicable under the particular circumstances to do so despite the employee’s diligent, good faith efforts.
      2. Second or third medical opinions and periodic re-certification (at the College's expense). The College is permitted to designate the health care provider to furnish the second opinion, but the selected health care provider may not be employed on a regular basis by the College. If the opinions of the employee's and the College's designated health care providers differ, the College may require the employee to obtain certification from a third health care provider, again at the College's expense. This third opinion shall be final and binding. The third health care provider must be designated or approved jointly by the College and the employee. The College is required to provide the employee, within five business days, with a copy of the second and third medical opinions where applicable, upon request by the employee. If the employee refuses to release relevant medical records in order for the health care provider to render a sufficient and complete opinion, the employee's request for FMLA leave may be denied.
      3. The College may request periodic medical recertification in connection with an ongoing or long-term condition. A recertification may be required when an employee is seeking an extension of the initial leave period. The timing and frequency of medical recertification will depend on the reason for the leave and its expected duration.
      4. Certification of fitness-for-duty prior to returning to work.
      5. Active duty orders for the covered military member when the employee first requests exigency leave or supporting documentation which may include:
        1. A description, signed by the employee, describing facts supporting the leave request and including any available documentation, such as a copy of the meeting announcement, appointment, or copy of a bill for service;
        2. The approximate date the qualifying exigency commenced or will commence;
        3. The beginning and end dates for the absence if the request is for a single period of time;
        4. An estimate of the frequency and duration of the exigency if the request is for intermittent or reduced schedule basis;
        5. Contact information of the third party or entity and a brief description of the purpose of the meeting if the exigency involves meeting with a third party or entity.
      6. Intermittent leave may be taken in increments of 60 minutes.
    4. Requesting Leave

      Definitions

      1. The employee will notify Human Resources by phone, e-mail, or submit to Human Resources a completed Application for FMLA leave 30 days in advance of the leave date, whenever practicable, or as soon as possible if 30 days’ notice is not possible. The employee should also notify his/her supervisor with as much notice as possible for scheduling purposes.
      2. The Director of Human Resources will review the form, determine the appropriateness of the request, and make the final decision regarding approval of FMLA leave. If a Certification of Health Care Provider is requested, it must be returned within 15 calendar days, unless it is not practicable under the particular circumstances to do so despite the employee’s diligent, good faith efforts. If a certification is incomplete or insufficient, the employee will have up to seven calendar days to remedy the deficiency, unless not practicable under the particular circumstances despite the employee’s diligent good faith efforts. The College may designate a Human Resources representative or a health care provider to contact the employee's health care provider, consistent with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), to verify and/or clarify if the employee cannot cure any deficiencies in the medical certification. If the employee refuses to cure deficiencies or does not grant permission to clarify, the employee's request for FMLA leave may be denied.
      3. The Director of Human Resources will notify the employee, the employee's supervisor, and the Unit Vice President of the status of the request for leave within five workdays of the date of the submission of all necessary information. The College may designate FMLA leave with appropriate information without an application from the employee. Notification to the employee that leave will be designated as FMLA will be provided to the employee and the employee's supervisor.
      4. The Director of Human Resources, or designee, will arrange with the employee the payment schedule for coverage of the employee's spouse and/or dependents. (See Maintenance of Health Benefits above.)
      5. When an employee is on paid leave and been absent for more than three consecutive days but has not given notice of the need for FMLA leave, the College may, within a period of five business days thereafter, request that the employee provide sufficient information to establish whether the leave is for a FMLA-qualifying reason.
      6. If an absence which begins as other than FMLA leave later develops into an FMLA- qualifying absence, the entire portion of the leave period that qualifies under FMLA may be counted as FMLA leave.
      7. Once the College has knowledge that the leave is being taken for an FMLA-required reason, the College will, within five business days, absent extenuating circumstances, notify the employee that the leave is designated and will be counted as FMLA leave. The notice may be oral or in writing, but must be confirmed in writing within five business days.
        1. Parent: A biological, adoptive, step or foster father or mother, or any other individual who stood in loco parentis (a person who is in the position or place of a parent), to an employee when the employee was a child.
        2. Child: A son or daughter who is:
          1. Under 18 years of age, or is18 years of age or older and incapable of self-care because of a mental or physical disability at the time that FMLA leave is to commence; and who is
          2. A biological child; or
          3. An adopted child; or
          4. A foster child (a child for whom the employee performs the duties of a parent as if he/she were the employee's child); or
          5. A step-child (a child of the employee's spouse from a former marriage); or
          6. A legal ward (a minor child placed by the court under the care of a guardian) or;
          7. A child of an employee standing in loco parentis (a person who is in the position or place of a parent).
        3. Next of Kin: Nearest blood relative.
        4. Spouse: A husband or wife in a valid marriage recognized by the state in which the employee resides.
        5. Covered Service Member: A current 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 outpatient status, or is otherwise on the temporary disability retired list, for a serious injury or illness; or a covered veteran who is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy for a serious injury or illness. A covered veteran is an individual who was a member of the Armed Forces (including a member of the National Guard or Reserves) and was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable at any time during the five-year period prior to the first date the eligible employee takes FMLA leave to care for the covered veteran.
        6. Serious Health Condition: An illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves either inpatient care or continuing treatment by a health care provider for a condition that prevents the employee from performing the functions of the employee’s job. Subject to certain conditions, the continuing treatment requirement may be met by a period of incapacity of more than 3 consecutive calendar days combined with at least two visits to a health care provider or one visit and a regimen of continuing treatment, or incapacity due to pregnancy, or incapacity due to a chronic condition. Other conditions may meet the definition of continuing treatment.
        7. Health Care Provider: A doctor of medicine or osteopathy who is authorized to practice medicine or surgery by the State in which the doctor practices or any other person determined by the Secretary of Labor to be capable of providing health-care services.
        8. Twelve-Month Period: A "rolling" twelve-month period measured backward from the date an employee uses any FMLA leave.