Family and Medical Leave Act Policy

Family and Medical Leave Act Policy
Type of Policy
Administrative
jgastley3 Tue, 05/29/2012 - 14:58
Policy No
2.12
Effective Date
Last Revised
Review Date
Policy Owner
Human Resources
Contact Name
Gail Imoukhuede
Contact Title
Benefits Manager
Contact Email
gail.imoukhuede@ohr.gatech.edu
Reason for Policy

This policy ensures the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) complies with applicable law and University System of Georgia policy in providing leave to eligible employees under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Policy Statement

Georgia Tech complies with the provisions of the FMLA. The FMLA allows employees to balance their work and family life using paid and unpaid leave for certain family and medical reasons. Employees should refer to the related documents/resources cited in this policy as well as consult GTHR for additional information.

Job Restoration and Health Benefits
During FMLA leave, the Institute will maintain the employee’s health coverage under any group health plan on the same terms as if the employee had continued to work, provided the employee continues to pay their portion of the premium. Use of FMLA leave cannot result in the loss of any employment benefit that accrued prior to the start of an employee leave.

An employee generally has a right to return to the same position or an equivalent position in terms of pay, benefits, and working conditions. Certain “key employees” may be denied job restoration if they are among the highest-paid 10% of employees and if such denial is necessary to prevent substantial and grievous injury to the operations of Georgia Tech.

Adverse action or discrimination is prohibited against an employee or prospective employee who has taken FMLA leave and interference with any rights provided by FMLA will not be tolerated, including:

  • Refusing to authorize FMLA leave
  • Discouraging an employee from using FMLA leave
  • Changing the essential functions of the employee’s job to preclude the taking of FMLA leave
  • Reducing hours of work to avoid employee eligibility

FMLA Leave Entitlement
The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job protected leave each year. An employee must be employed for at least one year and have worked at least 1,250 hours during the previous 12 months. Eligible employees may use FMLA leave intermittently or in one continuous block for the following reasons:

  • Birth or placement of a child (for adoption or foster care)
  • To bond with a newborn or a newly placed child (must be taken within the first 12 months of the child's birth or placement in the home)
  • The employee’s own serious health condition or to provide care for the employee’s child, spouse, or parent with a serious health condition
  • Any period of incapacity or treatment connected with inpatient hospital care, hospice, or residential medical care facility
  • Any period of incapacity, sporadic absence from work, school, or other regular daily activities that also involves continuing treatment by a health care provider.
  • Continuing treatment by a health care provider for a chronic or long-term health condition that is incurable or so serious that if not treated, would likely result in a period of incapacity.
  • Qualifying Exigency Leave: When a qualifying exigency arises because the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is on active duty, or has been notified of an impending call or order to covered active duty status. Qualifying exigencies leave may include: short-notice deployment (7 days notice or less and only available for 7 days total), military events and related activities (such as ceremonies and briefings), child care and school activities (for non-routine matters), financial and legal arrangements, counseling, rest and relaxation (up to 5 days), post-deployment activities (including debriefings or funeral services for up to 90 days following the termination of the covered military member’s active duty status), and any additional activities agreed upon by the Institute and employee.
  • Military Caregiver Leave: Eligible employees who are the spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin of a covered service member who is recovering from a serious illness or injury sustained in the line of duty on active duty is entitled to up to 26 weeks of leave in a single 12-month period to care for the service member. Military caregiver leave is available during a single 12-month period during which an eligible employee is entitled to a combined total of 26 weeks of FMLA leave. A single 12-month period begins on the 1st day the employee takes military leave and ends 12 months later.
  • Covered Active Duty Leave: A member of the Armed Forces, including a member of the National Guard and 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 veteran who is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation or therapy for a serious injury or illness and who was a member of the Armed Forces, including the National Guard and Reserves, at any time during the five-year period preceding the date on which the veteran undergoes medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy.

Leave Entitlement When Multiple Events Occur
Employees may have one or more qualifying reason for leave during the year however the leave entitlement is limited to 12 weeks.

Paid Parental Leave when taken due to the birth or placement of a child (for adoption or foster care), will also count towards any available FMLA leave. In no case will the total amount of leave—whether paid or unpaid—granted to the employee under the FMLA exceed 12 weeks during the 12-month FMLA period. Learn more about Paid Parental Leave and associated processes at https://benefits.hr.gatech.edu/paid-parental-leave/.

Leave Entitlement When Spouses Work for the University System Of Georgia (USG)
If both the employee and the employee’s spouse work for the USG and are eligible for FMLA, then
they are limited to a combined total of:

  • 12 workweeks of FMLA leave during any 12-month period for the birth of a child or the placement of a child for adoption or foster care; or to care for an employee’s parent with a serious health condition
  • Each employee may use up to 12 workweeks of FMLA leave during any 12-month period if the leave is for the care of the employee’s spouse or child with a serious health condition or the employee’s own serious health condition
  • 26 workweeks during the single 12-month period if the leave is Military Caregiver Leave or a combination of Military Caregiver Leave and Family Medical Leave, Employee Medical Leave, or Qualifying Exigency Leave

Determining Eligibility for Leave
The Institute uses a “rolling” 12-month period (rather than a fixed calendar, fiscal, or academic
year) to determine eligibility for, and availability of, leave time under FMLA. The 12-month period
is determined by reviewing the twelve months of employment prior to the date that the employee
requests FMLA leave to begin. If the employee has not utilized the equivalent of 12 weeks of
FMLA-qualifying leave during the 12 months prior to the designated date, then the employee is
eligible to take leave on that date, provided that all other eligibility criteria are met.

Determining Eligibility for Leave
For purposes of determining the amount of leave used by an employee, the fact that a holiday may
occur within the week taken as FMLA leave has no effect; the week is counted as a week of FMLA
leave. However, if an employee is using FMLA leave in increments of less than one week, the
holiday will not count against the employee’s FMLA entitlement unless the employee was
otherwise scheduled and expected to work during the holiday. Similarly, if the Institute’s business
operations have ceased and the employees are generally not expected to report for work for one
or more weeks (i.e. during winter holiday break), then those days do not count against the
employee’s FMLA entitlement.

Using Sick and Vacation Leave While on FMLA
FMLA leave is unpaid and the Institute requires that employees use their accrued paid sick leave
and/or vacation leave concurrently with FMLA leave before they go into unpaid status. If FMLA
leave is a result of an on-the-job injury however, you have the option of taking unpaid leave even if
you have sick leave and/or vacation available. Similarly, an employee on FMLA leave utilizing
short term disability (STD) insurance may go into an unpaid leave status when they begin
receiving STD benefits, reserving any remaining sick leave and/or vacation for use after the employee returns from leave. Employees must use their available accrued sick leave and/or vacation during the STD waiting period.

Please note that employees using FMLA to bond with a healthy newborn or newly adopted or placed child may use accrued vacation time or take time off without pay. Accrued sick leave however, may not be used for this purpose.

Intermittent and Reduced Schedules While on FMLA
If an employee is on intermittent or reduced schedule FMLA leave and would otherwise be required to work overtime hours, any overtime hours not worked during the leave period count as FMLA leave.

Although intermittent and reduced schedule leave are available for qualifying exigencies, Qualifying Exigency Leave counts against the employee’s total allotment of FMLA leave. The Institute may also request documentation of the need for qualifying exigency leave.

Employees who accept light duty positions in lieu of taking time off from work under FMLA leave cannot have the time spent on light duty counted against their FMLA entitlement.

Employees are expected to talk with their supervisors about their need for intermittent leave prior to scheduling treatment in order to work out a schedule that best suits the needs of the employee and the Institute. In order to better accommodate the employee’s intermittent leave or reduced work schedule the Institute may assign the employee to an alternative position with equivalent pay and benefits. The assignment of such an alternative position must be coordinated through the Employee Relations unit of the Office of Human Resources.

Providing Notice of Your Need for FMLA
When FMLA leave is needed the employee should make a request for leave in the Employee Self Service Portal and notice of the anticipated leave given by the employee to their supervisor (or HR representative).

When the need for FMLA leave is foreseeable , due to a planned medical treatment or other planned FMLA-qualifying event, a request for leave should be made at least 30 calendar days in advance of the start of leave, unless impracticable, in which case the employee must request leave as early as the circumstances permit. When possible employees should make reasonable efforts to schedule leave for planned medical treatments so that they do not disrupt the Institute’s operations.

When the need for leave is not foreseeable, an employee must comply with the Institute’s usual and customary notice and procedural requirements, which includes call-in procedures established by the employee’s department, absent unusual circumstances.

Call out Procedures While on FMLA
When an employee seeks leave due to a qualifying FMLA reason for which the Institute has previously provided the employee FMLA-protected leave, the employee must specifically reference the qualifying reason for leave. Calling in “sick” without providing more information will not be considered sufficient notice to trigger the Institute’s obligations under FMLA.

Medical Documentation Requirements
In the case of medical conditions, the Institute may find it necessary to inquire further to determine if the leave is because of a serious health condition and may request medical certification to support the need for such leave. The Institute may also request certification to support the need for leave for a qualifying exigency or for military caregiver leave. Employees must provide the requested certification to the Institute within the time frame requested, unless it is not practicable to do so despite the employee’s diligent, good-faith efforts. The Institute may request recertification at some later date if there is reason to question the appropriateness of the leave or its duration. Failure to provide the needed documentation may result in disapproval of the leave or a delay in its commencement.

If the validity of the medical certification is in doubt, GTHR may reach out to the provider. If there is a question regarding the medical opinion supporting the leave, a second opinion may be required with a health care provider chosen by GTHR at the Institute’s expense in order to support the need for leave. If the two opinions conflict, GTHR may request and pay for a third option. The third medical certification opinion will be final and binding.

Georgia Tech has the right to designate as FMLA leave any time off that qualifies as such, even if the time is not specifically requested as FMLA leave by the employee. In these instances a Designation Notice will be issued to the employee.

Recertification
The Institute may request recertification documentation no more often than every 30 days (except as indicated below) and only in connection with an absence by the employee, unless the medical certification indicates that the minimum duration of the condition is more than 30 days, in which case the Institute must wait until that minimum duration expires before requesting recertification. For example, if the medical certification states that an employee will be unable to work, whether continuously or on an intermittent basis, for 40 days, the employer must wait 40 days before requesting recertification.
The Institute may request recertification in less than 30 days if:

  1. The employee requests an extension of leave.
  2. Circumstances described by the previous certification have changed significantly (i.e. the duration or frequency of the absence, the nature or severity of the illness, complications).
  3. The Institute receives information that casts doubt upon the employee’s stated reason for the absence or the continuing validity of the certification.

Working While on FMLA
It is presumed that employees on FMLA for their own serious health conditions are not working outside of the Institute while on FMLA leave. Consulting or outside activity agreements may still apply. The protections of the FMLA will not, however, cover situations where the reason for the leave no longer exists, where the employee has not provided required notices or certifications, or the employee has misrepresented the reason for leave.

Returning to Work
Employees are expected to return to work at the end of the approved FMLA leave. If the employee does not return, and if failure to return is not due to a continued or new documented qualifying serious health condition, then the employee may be required to reimburse the Institute for the employer portion of the health coverage premiums it paid on the employee’s behalf during the leave.

Employees are required to present a fitness-for-duty certification from their healthcare provider before being reinstated to active duty upon completion of FMLA leave for their own serious health condition. The Institute may require that the certification specifically address the employee’s ability to perform the essential functions of the employee’s job. If reasonable job safety concerns exist, the Institute may require a fitness-for-duty certification before an employee may return to work when the employee takes intermittent leave.

If the employee is not able to return to work at the end of their approved FMLA leave, they may be eligible to request additional leave, as a work place accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The granting of such additional leave is at the discretion of the Institute or must meet the legal requirements for leave to be granted. In no case may all leaves combined exceed 12 months. If an employee does not return and is not granted additional leave, employment ends on the last day of the approved FMLA leave.

Scope

This policy applies to all faculty and staff of the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Policy Terms

Absence Plus Treatment

As defined under the FMLA, a period of incapacity of more than three full consecutive calendar days and any subsequent treatment or period of incapacity relating to the same condition, that also involves (a) treatment two or more times by a health care provider or (b) treatment by a health care provider on at least one occasion which results in a regiment of continuing treatment under the supervision of the health care provider.

Child

The employee’s biological son or daughter under the age of 18; a legally-adopted son or daughter under the age of 18; a foster child, stepchild, or ward under the age of 18, legally placed with the employee; any such child over the age of 18 if the child is incapable of self-care due to a mental or physical disability; “incapable of self-care” means requiring active assistance or supervision to provide daily self-care in three or more basic instrumental “activities of daily living” such as grooming & hygiene, bathing, dressing, eating, cooking, taking public transportation, etc.; a “physical or mental disability” is one that substantially limits one or more major life functions as defined under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Chronic Conditions Requiring Treatment

A chronic condition which 1) requires treatment at least twice a year by a health care provider, or by a nurse or physician’s assistant under direct supervision of a health care provider; 2) continues over an extended period of time (including recurring episodes of a single underlying condition); and 3) may cause episodic rather than a continuing period of incapacity (i.e. asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, etc.).

Health Care Provider

Department of Labor regulations for the FMLA define a health care provider as a doctor of medicine or osteopathy, podiatrist, dentist, chiropractor (limited to treatment consisting of manual manipulation of the spine to correct a subluxation as demonstrated by X-ray to exist), clinical psychologist, optometrist, nurse practitioner, nurse-midwife, or clinical social worker who is authorized to practice by the State and performing within the scope of their practice as defined by State law, or a Christian Scientist practitioner listed with the First Church of Christ Scientist in Boston, Massachusetts.

Injury or Illness in the Line of Duty

In the case of a current member of the Armed Forces, including a member of the National Guard and Reserves, this means an injury or illness incurred in the line of duty while on active duty, or which existed prior to active duty but was aggravated by service in line of duty while on active duty, that may render the member medically unfit to perform the duties of the member’s office, grade, rank, or rating. In the case of a veteran of the Armed Forces, including a member of the National Guard or Reserves, this means an injury or illness incurred in the line of duty while on active duty, or which existed prior to active duty but was aggravated by service in line of duty while on active duty, and that manifested itself either before or after the covered service member became a veteran.

Inpatient Care

As defined under the FMLA, Inpatient care means an overnight stay in a hospital, hospice, or residential medical care facility, including any period of incapacity, or any subsequent treatment in connection with such inpatient care.

Multiple Treatments of Non-chronic Conditions

Any period of absence to receive multiple treatments (including any period of recovery therefrom) by a health care provider or by a provider of health care services under orders of, or on referral by, a health care provider, for:

(1) Restorative surgery after an accident or other injury; or

(2) A condition that would likely result in a period of incapacity of more than three consecutive, full calendar days in the absence of medical intervention or treatment, such as cancer (chemotherapy, radiation, etc.), severe arthritis (physical therapy), or kidney disease (dialysis).

Parent

A biological parent of the employee; an individual who stands or stood “in loco parents” to an employee by providing primary day-to-day care and financial support when the employee was a child; Does not include “parents-in-law”.

Permanent Long-term Conditions
 

A period of incapacity which is permanent or long-term due to a condition for which treatment may not be effective. The employee or family member must be under the continuing supervision of, but need not be receiving active treatment by, a health care provider. Examples include Alzheimer's, a severe stroke, or the terminal stages of a disease.

Pregnancy

Any period of incapacity due to pregnancy, or for prenatal care.

Spouse

The employee’s legal husband or wife as defined or recognized under State law for purpose of marriage in the State where employee resides.

Procedures

See FMLA section on the GTHR website located at https://hr.gatech.edu/fmla

Responsibilities

8.1. AVP-OHR
Ensure consistent administration of family leave as governed by the FMLA.

8.2 GTHR Employee Relations
Consults with Human Resources on the effective utilization of policy and monitors for compliance.

8.3. Supervisors
Works with GTHR Benefits to ensure that employees are aware of FMLA. Provides information to GTHR regarding employee requesting leave and returning to work.

8.4 Employees
Must notify their supervisor (or HR Representative) that they will need to take leave. While on FMLA leave employees should periodically check in with their supervisor or HR Representative regarding their status and intent to return to work.

8.5 GTHR Benefits
Works with employees and supervisors in the day to day administration of FMLA. Provides notification of eligibility, reviews medical certification and designates leave. FMLA paperwork is maintained in GTHR in a file (separate from employee’s personnel file) for no less than three years.

Policy History
Revision Date Author Description
9/22/2021 GTHR Payroll and Total Rewards Updated definitions, clarified procedures, updated intermittent leave applicability.
10/2014 GTHR Payroll and Total Rewards New Policy