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PPM Section 13 - Leaves and Absences from Work: Family and Medical Leave of Absence

The University complies with the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) in granting family and medical leaves of absence to eligible employees.

Employee Rights and Responsibilities under the Family and Medical Leave Act (PDF)

Length of leave

The amount of family and medical leave available to an employee at any given time is measured by a rolling twelve (12) month period, counted backward from the first day of each occurrence of an FMLA leave; no more than twelve (12) weeks of family and medical leave may be taken in any such rolling 12-month period.

  1. Employees may take family or medical leave as partial absence from employment (a reduced leave) or on an intermittent basis (intermittent leave), under certain circumstances.

    "Reduced leave" means a leave schedule that reduces the number of hours worked per workweek or per day. A reduced leave is a change in the employee's schedule for a period of time (i.e., from full-time to part-time while an employee is recovering from a serious health condition and is not able to work a full-time schedule).

    "Intermittent leave" means leave taken in separate periods of time due to a single illness or injury and may include leave periods from one hour or more to several weeks.

    1. Employees needing an intermittent or a reduced leave schedule must attempt to schedule their leave so as not to disrupt University operations. At its discretion, the University may assign an employee to an alternative position with equivalent pay and benefits that better accommodates the employee's intermittent or reduced leave schedule.
    2. When leave is taken after the birth of a child or placement of a child for adoption or foster care, an employee may take leave intermittently or on a reduced leave schedule only if the University agrees.
    3. Intermittent leave may also be taken to provide care or psychological comfort to the employee's spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition, or if the employee is unable to perform the essential functions of his/her position because of a chronic serious health condition even if he/she does not receive treatment by a medical health provider.
  2. For birth, adoption, or foster care placement, leave availability expires twelve (12) months after the birth or placement of the employee's child.
  3. When both spouses are employed by WMU, they will be limited to a combined total of twelve (12) weeks of family and medical leave (rather than twelve [12] weeks each) during any twelve (12) month period for the birth of the employees' child or the placement of a child with the employees for adoption or foster care.

Pay during leave

Employees have the option to use any portion of their accrued Sick Leave or Annual Leave during an approved family and medical leave, under the conditions described below.

  1. Sick leave. Employees may elect (but are not required) to use any portion of their accrued sick leave while on an approved family and medical leave due to a serious medical condition, under the terms of the applicable University and/or bargaining group sick leave policy. Employees may elect (but are not required) to use sick leave for up to thirty five (35) days in a rolling year while on approved family and medical leave due to (a) the birth of a son or daughter and the care of such newborn child; or (b) the placement of a child for adoption or foster care, under the terms of the applicable University and/or bargaining group sick leave policy.
  2. Annual leave. If approved by their supervisor, employees may elect (but are not required) to use any portion of their annual leave bank while on an approved family and medical leave.

Benefits and seniority

An approved family and medical leave will not result in any loss of seniority or benefits that accrued before the beginning date of the leave. Such benefits will be available to the employee upon return from leave in the same manner and at the same terms and conditions as provided when the family and medical leave began, subject to any changes that may have taken place during the period of the leave.

  1. Employees on a paid family and medical leave continue to be eligible for all payroll-driven benefits.
  2. For the purposes of vesting and eligibility to participate in retirement plans, any period of family and medical leave leave is treated as continuous service.
  3. Health insurance will continue during an approved (paid or unpaid) family and medical leave in the same manner as if the employee had been actively working. The University will continue to provide coverage for the employee. The employee will continue to pay his/her share of premiums for dependents, if any.

    Employees who fail to return to work for at least 30 calendar days after an approved family and medical leave are required to reimburse the University for health benefits paid during the leave, unless the employee fails to return because of continued illness or other circumstances beyond the employee's control.
  4. Life insurance will continue during any paid portion of the leave, in the same manner as if the employee had been actively working.

    Life insurance coverage may be continued at the employee's expense during any unpaid portion of the leave.
  5. Long-term disability insurance continues during any paid portion of the leave, in the same manner as if the employee had been actively working.

    Long-term disability insurance may not be continued during any unpaid portion of the leave. However, if the family and medical leave is the result of the employee's own serious health condition and that condition also makes the employee eligible for long-term disability benefits, those benefits remain available to the employee under the terms and conditions of the long-term disability coverage.

Requesting a family and medical leave

An employee or employee's spokesperson requesting a family and medical leave should contact Human Resources. Employees may also provide notice of a family and medical leave request (or notice of a potential family and medical leave qualifying event) to their supervisor or other University administrative staff. Supervisors and administrative staff who receive such notice should immediately inform Human Resources.

Step 1: An employee should contact Human Resources to receive guidance on leave options and benefits.

Step 2: An employee must call the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) call-in line at 1-866-985-7597 to request or notify BASIC of the family and medical leave condition or need.

Note: In addition to calling the IVR, an employee is responsible for reporting absence(s) to the supervisor in accordance with the department's established procedures.

Step 3: An employee must answer all questions asked during the call.

Step 4: An employee should write down the claim number provided for a new family and medical leave claim.

Step 5: An employee should write down the confirmation number for the call.

Step 6: For continuous leave, an employee must call the IVR call-in line at the beginning of the leave. An employee does not have to call the IVR line during a continuous leave unless the family and medical leave or reason for leave changes.

Step 7: For a reduced work schedule, an employee must call the IVR call-in line at the beginning of the leave. If the employee's schedule changes or the employee must take leave that is during the reduced work schedule, the employee is required to call the IVR line and report the absence to the supervisor in accordance with the department's established procedures.

Step 8: For intermittent leave, an employee must call the IVR call-in line and report the absence to the supervisor in accordance with the department's established procedures every time the employee is absent, departs early, or is tardy.

Upon completion of the family and medical leave request and notification call to the IVR, BASIC will send to the employee's home all documents and information needed to apply for or continue the family and medical leave. The employee must follow all instructions in the documents provided by the stated deadlines. The employee must return all family and medical leave documents and certification to BASIC.

Consent to release leave of absence information

The consent to release leave of absence information is an optional form and is available on the Forms page. When completed and returned to Human Resources, this form allows the Human Resources staff to release leave of absence information on the employee's behalf to specific, relevant parties (e.g., the employee's personal spokesperson, bargaining unit, etc.).

Return to work

An employee returning to work from a family and medical leave will be returned to his/her former position or equivalent position in accordance with federal law.

  1. An employee on a family and medical leave for his/her own serious health condition is to bring a certification from his/her health care provider authorizing return to work (return to work certification) to Human Resources prior to the return date. Human Resources will communicate the return to work date to the supervisor. This certification is not required for return to work from an intermittent or reduced-schedule leave. If the employee fails to provide a return to work certification, restoration to the employee's last-held position or an equivalent position will be delayed until the University receives the certification. If an employee can return to work earlier than anticipated, the employee shall provide notice to Human Resources at least two (2) business days prior to his/her planned return.
  2. Should an employee decide not to return to work at the conclusion of the leave, the employee shall advise his/her supervisor in writing of his/her intent not to return to work. When the employment relationship terminates, the employee's entitlement to continued leave and/or other benefits, and restoration to a position ceases. The supervisor/designee completes a transaction form indicating separation.

This policy is intended to comply with the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993. To the extent that any provision in this policy is ambiguous and/or contradicts the Act, the language of the Act will prevail.