Family and Medical - FMLA Leave
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the maximum leave time allowed under an FMLA leave?
An employee has a total of 12 unpaid weeks for all FMLA leaves in any fiscal year; however, an employee may have a total of 26 unpaid weeks in a single 12-month period if the FMLA leave is to act as a caregiver for a military family member. If both husband and wife are employed by the University, they each have a total of 12 unpaid weeks available for FMLA leave purposes in any fiscal year.
- Are these paid or unpaid leaves?
The FMLA leave itself is unpaid, and any paid leave runs concurrently with the FMLA leave. As the policy states, the University requires employees to use, concurrently with the FMLA leave, the following paid leaves in the order listed: (1) sick leave available for use, as defined by the contract, rule, or policy governing the reason for the leave; (2) accrued compensatory time, if available; and (3) vacation leave in excess of 10 days to which the employee is entitled. This means that when paid time is used during an FMLA leave, the periods of paid time and unpaid time all count towards the 12 weeks of leave entitled under the FMLA. Where the FMLA leave is paid as a workers' compensation absence, then the employee is not required to use other forms of paid leave.
- Are faculty and staff required to use up their available paid sick and vacation leave time during their FMLA leave?
Yes, the policy provides that employees must use available sick, compensatory, and vacation leave for which they are eligible to use under the contract, rule, or policy governing the reason for the leave. Note, however, that employees need not exhaust their entire vacation balance during an FMLA leave; they may choose to keep a balance of and not use up to ten days of vacation leave.
- What position does the employee get assigned upon return from an FMLA leave?
Under FMLA, the employee is generally guaranteed the same or equivalent position upon return to work by the end of the FMLA leave unless that position has been eliminated through the ordinary course of business, including, but not limited to layoff, non-renewal or program curtailment. If an employee is unable to perform an essential function of the job when the FMLA leave ends, then the employee has no right to return to that position under the FMLA. In such cases, the Disability Resource should be involved to assess the University's obligations under disability laws.
- Do temporary employees have any rights under FMLA?
Temporary employees are eligible for FMLA leave if they have worked (anywhere) at the University of Minnesota for at least 12 months over the last seven years and they have worked at least 1,250 hours in the 12 months immediately preceding the commencement of the leave. If a temporary employee's appointment has expired, then the employee is no longer an employee and is not eligible for leave. If the appointment expires or the position is eliminated during the leave, the employee's employment will be terminated and the leave will end on the last day of the appointment.
- Does the University of Minnesota contribute towards medical and dental coverage during an FMLA leave?
Yes, if a faculty or staff member was eligible for University contributions for health premiums immediately prior to the leave, the University will continue to contribute its share during FMLA leave (up to 12 weeks in any fiscal year or 26 weeks in any single 12-month period if for military caregiver leave) or any paid leave during which the employee is receiving at least 50% of base pay, whichever would be longer. Paid leave includes sick leave, compensatory time, parental leave, and vacation. Coverage will be canceled if employees do not pay their share of the premium or if it is more than 30 days late.
- What happens if the employee's appointment ends while the individual is on FMLA?
If an employee's appointment ends while on FMLA:
- The FMLA leave ends as of the last day of the appointment; and
- The medical and dental subsidy ends as of the last day of the pay period which includes the last day of the appointment, though the employee's medical coverage will be in effect through the last day of the month; and
- Any retirement contributions will cease with the employee's last paycheck; and
- Any service accruals under MSRS to which the employee's may be entitled will end as of the last day of the employee's appointment.
- What period constitutes a "year" for the purposes of FMLA leave?
The "year" used by the University under the FMLA is the fiscal year from July 1 to June 30. Note, however, that the 12-month period for military caregiver FMLA leave is 12 months from when the leave commences.
- May an employee drop optional insurance coverages during FMLA leave? Yes, an employee may drop optional life and disability coverages during an FMLA leave.
Coverages will be reinstated without evidence of good health at the end of the leave or when the employee returns to active employment, whichever is sooner. If the leave extends beyond approved FMLA leave and lasts longer than 12 months, coverages may be reinstated with evidence of good health or at the next available open enrollment. If the employee chooses not to continue life or disability coverage, and the employee should die or become disabled when coverages are not in force, no benefits are payable for that disability or death.
- What happens if a faculty or staff member gives notice of intent not to return? Are their benefits terminated?
Yes, as long as the notice is "unequivocal." One form of an unequivocal notice is when the employee submits a written letter of resignation. The individual has the option to continue coverage through COBRA following termination of employment.
- Is it permissible to transfer a staff member to another position during an FMLA leave?
The University may temporarily transfer a staff member to an alternative position in order to accommodate intermittent leave or leave on a reduced schedule that is foreseeable based on planned medical treatment. The employee must be qualified for the alternative position, and it must provide equivalent pay and benefits. Furthermore, an employee may not be transferred to an alternative position in order to discourage the employee from taking leave but must be selected to better accommodate recurring periods of leave. Consult human resources before making any transfers of employees during FMLA leaves.
- When does the University contribute to the health insurance of eligible employees who are on any type of paid or unpaid leave?
The University will continue contributions for health insurance for eligible employees on leave of absence if they meet at least ONE of the following requirements:
- The employee is on any leave during which they are receiving full pay.
- The employee is on an approved FMLA leave.
- The employee is on a partial leave during which they work at least half-time (20 hours per week).
- Can an employee request sick leave or vacation for a serious health condition and NOT count this toward the 12-week FMLA period?
No, if the employee meets the eligibility criteria for FMLA leave and the leave is for an FMLA-qualifying reason, then it is designated as and counted as FMLA leave.
- Is a new 12 weeks of FMLA leave available to an employee on/after July 1 of each year?
Yes, 12 weeks of FMLA leave are available each fiscal year for eligible employees for FMLA-qualifying reasons. The eligibility requirements of 12 months of employment and 1,250 hours worked in the 12-month period immediately preceding the leave request must be met. Note, that military caregiver leave provides for 26 weeks of leave in a single 12-month period.
- How does the FMLA leave eligibility apply to student employees, graduate assistants, and professionals-in-training (95xx job codes)?
Student employees, graduate assistants, and professionals-in-training (95xx job codes) are eligible for FMLA leave. All employees regardless of employee group must meet the eligibility criteria of 12 months employment at the University and 1,250 hours worked in the 12 months preceding the leave. These individuals oftentimes do not meet the hours worked requirement so to be eligible for FMLA leave.
- How is FMLA usage counted during holiday weeks?
A holiday during a full week of FMLA leave has no effect; the week is still counted as one week of FMLA leave. If an employee works any part of a workweek during which a holiday falls, the holiday does not count as FMLA leave unless the employee was scheduled to work on the holiday.
- If an individual has been employed by the University for at least 9 months and has provided an average of 20 hours or more per week but has not been here for the 12 months of service, can that individual take a leave that is covered under FMLA?
No. An employee must meet both eligibility requirements in order to qualify.
- Can an administrator place an employee on FMLA leave if the employee fails to request the leave?
Yes, a responsible administrator/supervisor should place employees on FMLA who meet the eligibility requirements and have qualifying circumstances. Within five business days after receiving complete, sufficient certification or, if no certification was requested, after sufficient information is provided indicating a need for FMLA-qualifying leave, the responsible administrator/supervisor must provide notice to the employee that the leave is being designated as FMLA leave.
- Can an administrator deny or delay a FMLA leave even if the employee meets the eligibility requirements and has a serious health condition?
Yes, if an employee fails to request a leave in a timely manner or fails to provide complete and sufficient certification after requested, FMLA leave may be denied or delayed. Whether FMLA leave should be denied or delayed in a particular situation depends on the unique facts and circumstances of that situation. Human resources should be involved in assessing the situation before any decision to deny or delay a FMLA leave is made.
- Can time spent as a student employee be combined with that of civil service (or any other employee group, i.e. academic, bargaining unit represented, etc.) appointment to fulfill the eligibility requirement of at least twelve months University employment and 1,250 hours worked?
Yes, provided all of the employment at issue has been within the University.
- Is workers' compensation leave counted simultaneously with that of FMLA leave?
- Is FMLA leave determined by weeks or days or portions thereof? For example, if an employee is on a 50 percent time appointment and begins an FMLA leave, is the FMLA leave period 12 weeks or 24 weeks?
The FMLA leave period is defined in weeks, e.g. 12 weeks. The FMLA leave period is prorated based on the employee's percentage appointment, e.g. 12 weeks at 50 percent time for employees appointed on 50 percent time appointments.
- How do you calculate intermittent leave?
To track intermittent leave, hours must be counted. As an example, an employee with a 100 percent time appointment who is on intermittent leave is entitled to the hour equivalent of 12 weeks at 100 percent time (480 hours).
- When should an eligible employee's absence be designated as FMLA leave?
Within five business days after receiving complete, sufficient certification, or, if no certification was requested, after sufficient information is provided indicating a need for FMLA-qualifying leave, the supervisor/responsible administrator should provide notice to the employee that the leave is or is not being designated as FMLA leave.
- If FMLA leave is taken for the birth or placement of a child, by what time period must the leave be concluded?
An employee's FMLA leave taken for the birth or placement of a child must be completed by the end of the 12-month period that begins on the date of the birth or placement.
- For the birth or placement of a child where both parents are employed at the University, how much FMLA leave are the parents entitled to take?
Each parent is entitled to 12 weeks of FMLA leave for the birth or adoption of a child assuming each otherwise meets FMLA eligibility requirements. When both parents work in the same department/division, the responsible administrator may exercise discretion in approving timing of the leaves to address resources and work coverage of the department/division.