Human Resources

Family and Medical Leave Policy

I. Policy
The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) gives eligible Grand Valley State University faculty and staff the right to take unpaid leave or paid leave, if appropriate benefits have been earned, for a period of up to 12 work weeks in a 12 month period because of the birth of a child or the placement of a child for adoption or foster care, because the faculty or staff member is needed to care for a family member (child, spouse, household member or parent) with a serious health condition, or because the faculty or staff member's own serious health condition makes he/she unable to do his or her job. Under certain circumstances, this leave may be taken on an intermittent basis rather than all at once, or the faculty or staff member may work a part-time schedule.
A faculty or staff member on FMLA leave is also entitled to maintain the same health benefits (such as medical, dental and vision insurance) as he/she had before going on leave. The faculty or staff member, however, would continue to pay his/her share of any applicable premiums during the leave period.

A faculty of staff member generally has a right to return to the same position or an equivalent position with equivalent pay, benefits and working condition at the conclusion of the leave.

Grand Valley State University also requires notification, as explained in this document, from faculty and staff members who wish to take a leave under the parameters of the FMLA.


II. General conditions and procedures of all leaves.

A. Who is eligible for FMLA?

1. All full-time and part-time faculty or staff members who meet all of the following criteria:

a. Have worked at Grand Valley State University for at least 12 months.

b. Have worked at least 1,250 hours of service during the 12 month period before the leave.

2. Grant, contract and temporary-funded faculty or staff members may be eligible for benefits under the FMLA during the term of their grant, contract or funding. The provisions of the FMLA do not continue past the date the funding or contract expires.

B. Notification Requirements

1. In order to receive leave under the FMLA, the faculty or staff member must notify his/her supervisor of the need for leave. When possible, this should be a minimum of 30 calendar days prior to the date the leave will begin.

2. If the faculty or staff member is unable to provide 30 days advance notice (such as in the case of a birth, adoption or medical emergency) the faculty or staff member must notify his/her supervisor as soon as possible.

3. Failure to provide advance notice (when determined it was possible to do so) may result in delaying approval of the FMLA leave.


C. Faculty/Staff Job Rights

1. Subject to the specific limitations contained in this Policy, eligible faculty or staff members may take a total of up to 12 weeks of FMLA leave during a 12 month period.

2. The faculty or staff member will be returned to his/her position or equivalent position at the end of the FMLA leave, provided:

the grant/contract/term of employment did not expire during the leave, or
the University is still offering those services previously performed by the faculty or staff member at the time the faculty or staff member is ready to return to work, or
the faculty or staff member's position was not eliminated due to a business or economic reason.
3. If a faculty or staff member is requesting an intermittent or reduced schedule leave, the University has the right to transfer the faculty or staff to another position during the time period of such leave. However, such a temporary transfer would be to a similarly situated and similarly classified position. The faculty or staff member's salary, benefits, etc. would not be negatively affected.

4. If a faculty or staff member does not return to work after the FMLA leave is over and he/she does not apply for and receive approval for another University leave, he/she will be considered to have voluntarily resigned employment with the University.

5. The University will not discharge or discriminate against, or otherwise interfere with, restrain or deny a faculty or staff member from exercising rights under the FMLA.

D. Time Period

1. For purposes of the FMLA, the 12 month period will be a "rolling" 12 month "look back" period based on the faculty or staff member's use of the FMLA leave during the previous 12 months. Therefore, an employee will not be entitled to more than 12 weeks of FMLA leave during any 12 month period.

2. A faculty or staff member requesting a FMLA leave may be required to use available accrued vacation for all or part of the leave. If he or she does not have enough accrued vacation to cover the leave period he/she may use a combination of vacation and unpaid leave.

3. University policies on leaves of absences, sick leave, salary continuation etc., will run concurrently with the provisions of the FMLA when applicable. For example, if an individual who was receiving salary continuation for 4 weeks, requested additional leave under FMLA, may have up to an additional 8 weeks approved, provided the situation qualified under the FMLA policy. The 4 weeks of salary continuation would count towards the 12 weeks of FMLA. In addition, if the individual had 2 weeks of accrued and unused vacation the supervisor may require him/her to first use accrued vacation time. Additional paid or unpaid leave may be considered, consistent with other University approved leave of absence policies.

E. Faculty/Staff Member Benefits

1. Benefits - the faculty or staff member on FMLA leave will continue to receive University provided medical and dental insurance as though he/she was working. Such benefits will continue whether the leave is paid or unpaid. If a premium is required, provision to pay the premium during an unpaid leave must be arranged by the faculty or staff member by contacting the Human Resources Office. The same procedure will be followed for collecting premiums under an unpaid FMLA leave as is done for other unpaid leaves. Failure to make required payments will result in loss of coverage, or in an obligation to repay the University if it elects to advance moneys to keep the coverage in affect. If the leave is paid, any required premium will continue to be deducted from the faculty or staff member's paycheck, as is the customary manner.

2. If a faculty or staff member does not return from the FMLA leave, he/she may be required to repay the University for the cost of benefits received while he/she was on leave.

3. If the faculty or staff member does not return from leave, he/she may continue his/her medical and dental coverage by paying all required premiums under the COBRA provisions.

F. Intermittent and/or Reduced Schedule Leaves

1. Faculty or staff members may request and be granted intermittent/reduced schedule leave in the case of a serious illness of themselves, their parent, spouse, household member or child if there is a medical necessity and if the medical need can be best accommodated through such a leave. Intermittent/reduced schedule leave is not available (except as medically required) in connection with the birth of a child, an adoption or foster care.

2. Intermittent/reduced schedule leave must be scheduled whenever possible at least ten (10) days in advance.

3. Intermittent/reduced schedule leave must be taken in 30 minute increments.

4. Intermittent/reduced schedule leave is counted toward the 12 week maximum FMLA leave which can be used during a 12 month period.

5. Intermittent/reduced schedule leaves, unless otherwise noted, are subject to the appropriate general provisions of this policy.

6. The faculty or staff member is required to schedule intermittent leave, when possible, so not to unduly interfere with the department's operations.

7. If the faculty or staff member was temporarily transferred to another position during his/her intermittent or reduced schedule leave, the employee must give the University ten (10) days notice of the ability to end the leave and return to his/her former position or an equivalent position.

III. Conditions and procedures for birth and adoption (Family leave)
An eligible faculty or staff member is entitled to take up to 12 consecutive weeks off for family leave for the birth of his/her newborn child, for the legal adoption of his/her child: or, to accept foster care placement of a child. The following conditions apply:

A. The 12 weeks of leave must be taken consecutively (no intermittent or reduced schedule leave) and within the first 12 months after the birth or adoption.

B. Each employee is entitled to 12 weeks except if both spouses or household members work for Grand Valley State University. In that case, the total number of weeks taken between the two faculty or staff members cannot exceed 12.

C. The medical recovery period for the birth of a baby will be considered as a medical leave, and be counted towards the 12 weeks of FMLA. For example, if a faculty or staff member gives birth, her physician may require a six week medical leave of absence. If, after the six weeks, the faculty or staff member can medically return to work, she may then take an additional six weeks off as part of the provisions of the family leave. This second six week period off work must be taken within the first 12 months following the baby's birth.

D. The faculty or staff member requesting family leave for birth/adoption (other than under the provisions of Income Protection) may use available accrued vacation time, unpaid leave or a combination of paid and unpaid leave as part of the FMLA leave, or the University may require the faculty or staff member to substitute available paid leave for FMLA leave. If the employee does not have enough paid benefit time to cover the leave, he/she will go on an unpaid leave.

E. Verification of adoption, birth of a child of foster placement may be requested.


IV. Procedures on serious health condition of family member
An eligible faculty or staff member is entitled to take up to 12 weeks off from work to care for a spouse, household member, parent or child with a serious health condition.

A. A serious health condition involves inpatient care at a medical facility or continuing treatment by a health care provider.

B. The "need to care for" a family member includes both physical and psychological care when the family member is unable to care for his/her own basic medical hygienic or nutritional needs or safety, or is unable to transport him/herself to the doctor, etc. It also includes time needed to make arrangements for changes in care, such as transfer to a nursing home.

C. A "child" includes a biological , adopted, or foster child, stepchild, legal ward, or a child of a person standing in loco parentis who is under the age of 18 or, if older than 18, is incapable of self-care because of mental of physical disability. The term "spouse" means husband or wife. The term "Household Member" is defined in the FAQ's. "Parent" is the person who acted as a parent when the faculty or staff member was a child but does not include mother-in-law or father-in-law.

D. The leave may be taken intermittently or on a reduced schedule but the total amount of time off cannot exceed 12 weeks of the faculty or staff member's normal hours worked.

Example:

Full-time faculty or staff member:
40 hours/week X 12 weeks = 480 hours

Part-time faculty or staff member:
20 hours/week X 12 weeks = 240 hours.

E. Only in the case of a serious illness of a child when both parents work at Grand Valley, can each parent then take 12 weeks off. This is an illness so serious as to require a parent to stay with the child.

V. Certification of need for FMLA leave

A. Initial Certification - Grand Valley may require certification from the faculty or staff member's health care provider for the following reasons:

to verify that the faculty or staff member is needed to care for the family member, or
the faculty or staff member is not able to perform his/her job duties.
The University reserves the right to ask for a second opinion by a health care provider chosen by the University. Such an opinion will be paid for by the University. If the University requests a third opinion, that opinion will be final and binding. If the second opinion and the original opinion conflict, the University will pay for a third opinion. The University and the faculty or staff member will work together to reach agreement on whom to use for the third opinion. All certification must be provided to the University within 15 calendar days of the University's request, if practical. The third opinion will be final and binding.

B. Continuing Certification - Each 30 days, the University may request verification of the need to continue the leave. Failure to provide such requested documentation in a 15-day period may result in termination of FMLA leave.

C. A "health care provider" may include, for example, a licensed doctor of medicine or osteopathy, dentist, clinical psychologist, and other health care providers authorized under the Family Medical Leave Act.

D. When the faculty or staff member is ready to return from his/her leave, he/she may be required to submit medical verification (if applicable) of his/her ability to return to work.

VI. Questions and policy interpretation

A. The Human Resources Office is responsible for implementing and coordinating the provisions of the FMLA for the campus. Questions may be directed to the Human Resources Office, extension X2215.

B. If there are any conflicts between the University policy and provisions of the Federal Act, the provisions of the Federal Act will supersede, with the exception of situations where University policy, handbooks or contracts provide benefits greater than the act. The Federal Act and the Federal regulations will be used to resolve issues that arise.

Page last modified September 7, 2011