The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides eligible employees up to 12 workweeks of job protected unpaid leave during a defined 12-month period.
In order to be eligible for FML leave, you must be a regular staff or contingent II employee and have:
- worked 1,040 hours during the 12-month period immediately prior to the start of your FML leave; and
- worked for the University for at least 12 months* immediately prior to the start of your FML leave; and
- an FTE of at least 50%.
*The 12 months of service are not required to be consecutive. Employment periods preceding a break in service of no more than 7 years may be considered when determining whether you have worked for the University for at least 12 months.
If you are on approved sick leave at the time you meet the 12-month service requirement, all leave taken after you meet the 12-month service requirement will be designated as FML leave.
Am I required to submit documentation certifying that my immediate family member or I have a serious health condition?
You may be required to submit a completed Certification of Health Care Provider Form when requesting FML leave for your own or your immediate family member’s serious health condition. You will have 15 calendar days from the date you are notified of your eligibility and rights & responsibilities to submit the completed medical certification to the Leave Coordinator. If you are unable to meet the 15-calendar day deadline despite diligent good faith efforts to do so, you may request a deadline extension of up to 15 additional calendar days.
Unless complications arise, conditions such as the common cold, ear aches, upset stomach, minor ulcers, headaches other than migraine etc…, are not considered serious health conditions under the FMLA.
Job protected leave ensures an eligible employee will be restored to the same position they held immediately prior to their FML leave or an equivalent position with the same pay, benefits and terms and conditions of employment, assuming the employee returns to work prior to or immediately after exhausting their FML leave entitlement. Eligible employees shall also remain eligible for all of the health care benefits they enjoyed immediately prior to the start of their FML leave.
Eligible employees may take up to 12 workweeks of FML leave for one or more of the following reasons:
- the birth of a child;
- the placement of a child for adoption or foster care;
- care/bonding with a newborn or adopted/foster placed child within the 12-month period from birth or placement;
- care for an immediate family member e.g. spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition;
- when the employee is unable to work and/or perform any one of the essential functions of their job because of a serious health condition; or
- qualifying exigencies arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is on covered active duty or called to covered active duty status as a member of the National Guard, Reserves, or Regular Armed Forces.
Eligible employees may take up to 26 workweeks of FML leave to care for a covered servicemember with a serious health condition.
If an employee was approved for intermittent FML leave, do they have to provide medical documentation each time they are absent from work?
Intermittent absences for the FML-qualifying condition noted on the medical certification are considered a single leave reason; therefore, employees are not required to provide medical documentation every time they are absent from work.
Not necessarily. However, if the reason for the absence qualifies as a serious health condition it should be designated as FML leave.
The most common serious health conditions that qualify for FML leave are:
- conditions requiring an overnight stay in a hospital or other medical care facility;
- conditions that incapacitate you or your immediate family member (for example, unable to work or attend school) for more than three consecutive days and have ongoing medical treatment (either multiple appointments with a health care provider, or a single appointment and follow-up care such as prescription medication);
- chronic medical conditions that require occasional periods when you or your immediate family member require periodic visits for treatment by a health care provider e.g. at least twice a year, or may cause episodic flare-ups rather than continuing periods of incapacity over an extended period of time;
- pregnancy including prenatal medical appointments, incapacity due to morning sickness, and/or medically required bed rest.
What are my options if I am not eligible for FML leave but need to take time off work for medical reasons e.g. the birth of a child, my own illness or injury, caring for a family member with an illness or injury?
If you are not eligible for FML leave but need to take time off work for medical reasons, sick leave may be granted under the USM Policy on Sick Leave for Exempt and Nonexempt Staff Employees. To ensure your use of sick leave is in accordance with policy, you may be required to submit a written statement from a medical provider confirming the need for you to be off work.
How often may the University ask for medical certification for an on-going serious health condition?
The University may require an employee to provide periodic updates as to the serious health condition for which they are taking leave. Recertification shall not be requested more often than every 30 calendar days unless:
- the duration of the medical condition is less than 30 calendar days;
- the employee requests an extension of FML leave;
- the circumstances described in the previous medical certification change significantly;
- the University receives information that casts doubt upon the employee’s stated reason for leave or the continuing validity of the most recent medical certification.
In all cases, the University may request recertification of a serious health condition every 6 months and/or at the end of the 12-month leave period.
Why do I have to report leave taken for an FML-qualifying reason if I have enough sick leave to cover my absence?
FML leave provides job and health benefit protections and runs concurrent with the use of your accrued/paid leave. If the reason for your absence qualifies under the FML, it should be reported and tracked as FML leave even if you have enough accrued sick leave to cover your absence.
I would rather not apply for FML leave now and instead save it for a later time when I may really need it. Is this allowable?
If your FML-qualifying absence is not designated as FML leave, you will not be eligible for the job and benefit protections afforded to you under the FMLA. Consequently, the University is not obligated to preserve your current position with the pay, benefits and terms and conditions of employment you enjoyed prior to your absence and your absences may be considered unauthorized.
My spouse and I are both UMD employees and we will be having a baby. Are we both eligible for up to 12 weeks of FML leave for the birth and bonding with our newborn?
Yes. Assuming you are both eligible for FML leave, you and your spouse are entitled to separate/individual periods of up to 12 workweeks of FML leave that may be taken simultaneously or in succession.
What happens if I do not submit medical certification by the deadline noted on my eligibility letter?
If you do not submit acceptable medical certification to the Leave Coordinator by the deadline noted on your eligibility letter, approval of your request for FML leave may be delayed and/or denied and your absences may be considered unauthorized.
I sometimes need to take unscheduled time off work for a few minutes or a few hours at a time because of a medical condition. Should I be using FML leave?
You should be using FML leave if you are taking time off work due to a medical condition, such as a chronic health condition, that requires you to take leave intermittently for scheduled treatment and/or unscheduled leave due to episodic flare-ups.
FML leave does not provide paid leave benefits. The FMLA provides job and benefit protections that run concurrent with an employee’s use of their own available accrued/paid leave.
Am I required to provide documentation certifying my ability to return to work prior to returning from FML leave?
If the FML leave is for your own serious health condition, you will be required to provide documentation from your health care provider confirming the date you are able to return to work and your work status e.g. full duty or modified duty with specific restrictions and their expected duration.
When it is medically necessary due to the employee or immediate family member’s serious health condition, eligible employees shall be entitled to take scheduled and/or unscheduled intermittent FML leave in separate blocks of time. Employees must follow all department call-in procedures when requesting unscheduled leave and provide as much notice as possible when requesting leave for scheduled appointments. Employees must also specifically state that their request is for FML-approved leave.
Yes, you will continue to accrue annual and sick leave while you are on FML-qualifying leave. If you are in an unpaid status for any portion of a pay period, your leave accruals will be prorated accordingly.
What happens if I do not provide medical documentation certifying my ability to return to work prior to returning from FML leave?
If you fail to provide acceptable medical documentation from your health care provider prior to returning from FML leave, your return to work may be delayed until acceptable medical documentation is submitted to the Leave Coordinator.
When medically necessary, eligible employees shall be entitled to take FML leave when a physician recommends a reduction in hours worked per day or workweek.
o, you must exhaust all of your available accrued/paid leave before moving into an unpaid status.
All documentation related to your request for FML leave must be submitted directly to the Leave Coordinator. Documentation should not be submitted to your manager and/or department.
Can the University change an employee’s job when they take intermittent or reduced schedule FML leave?
The University may temporarily reassign an employee on intermittent or reduced schedule FML leave to an alternative position with equivalent pay and benefits that better accommodates a reduced work schedule or intermittent periods of FML leave.
You must inform the Leave Coordinator of your inability to return to work prior to exhausting your FML leave entitlement. If you require reasonable accommodation for a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which may include an extension of leave, you should submit a request for reasonable accommodation prior to exhausting your FML leave entitlement.
The University is committed to ensuring that any/all information submitted as part of your request for FML leave will remain confidential and maintained in a separate medical file in the Office of Staff Relations. Your manager/department will only be advised of your leave status e.g. period of continuous absence, frequency and duration of intermittent or episodic absences, and/or your return to work status to include specific restrictions that may be required upon your return to work; if applicable.
Can I use my sick leave while taking FML leave to care for/bond with my newborn or adopted/foster placed child?
No, time off work to care for/bond with your newborn or adopted/foster placed child is not medical in nature; therefore, you are limited to using your annual, personal, and/or compensatory leave.