Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Policy
Hofstra University is committed to providing eligible employees with leave afforded under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which provides employees with job protection of unpaid leave for up to 12 workweeks in any 12 month period under the following qualifying circumstances: 1) employee's serious health condition, 2) to care for the employee’s child after birth, or placement for adoption or foster care, 3) employee is needed to care for a family member (i.e., child, spouse or parent with a serious health condition), or 4) incapacity due to pregnancy, prenatal medical care or childbirth.
A serious health condition is an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves either an overnight stay in a medical care facility, or continuing treatment by a health care provider for a condition that either prevents the employee from performing the functions of the employee’s job, or prevents the qualified family member from participating in school or other daily activities. Subject to certain conditions, the continuing treatment requirement may be met by a period of incapacity of more than 3 consecutive calendar days combined with at least two visits to a health care provider or one visit and a regimen of continuing treatment, or incapacity due to pregnancy, or incapacity due to a chronic condition. Other conditions may meet the definition of continuing treatment.
An employee does not need to use this leave entitlement in one block. When medically necessary, leave can be taken intermittently or on a reduced leave schedule. Employees must make reasonable efforts to schedule leave for planned medical treatment so as not to unduly disrupt the employer’s operations. Leave due to qualifying exigencies may also be taken on an intermittent basis.
To be eligible for FMLA leave under the following circumstances, an employee must have worked for the employer for a total of 12 months and for a total of 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months. For purposes of calculating leave under the law, the university uses a "rolling backward" 12-month period. Under the rolling backward method, the 12-month period will be measured backward from the date an employee requests FMLA leave to determine whether the employee is eligible for any additional leave. If an employee is eligible for FMLA leave, accumulated annual leave time must be used for this FMLA leave. FMLA leave commences at the same time any other Hofstra leave commences, regardless of whether leave taken is paid or unpaid, and the two run concurrently. New York State Disability, Workers' Compensation and sick or medical leave runs concurrently with FMLA leave.
To apply for FMLA leave, an employee must provide Hofstra with at least 30 days advance notice before FMLA leave is to begin. Where such notice is not possible, the employee must provide notice as soon as practicable (i.e. one to two business days following the employee learning about the need to take leave) and generally must comply with normal call-in procedures.
All forms, including the Family Medical Leave Request form and Certification of Health Care Provider form must be submitted within 15 days of FMLA notice in order for the leave to be treated as authorized under the FMLA. The failure to provide these forms will result in the denial of FMLA leave. Forms with missing, incomplete, or unclear information will not be accepted. All forms are available in the Office of Human Resources.
Covered employers must inform employees requesting leave whether they are eligible under FMLA. If they are, the notice must specify any additional information required as well as the employees’ rights and responsibilities. If they are not eligible, the employer must provide a reason for the ineligibility.
Covered employers must inform employees if leave will be designated as FMLA-protected and the amount of leave counted against the employee’s leave entitlement. If the employer determines that the leave is not FMLA-protected, the employer must notify the employee.
FMLA makes it unlawful for any employer to:
- Interfere with, restrain, or deny the exercise of any right provided under FMLA;
- Discharge of discriminate against any person for opposing any practice made unlawful by FMLA or for involvement in any proceeding under or relating to FMLA.
An employee may file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor or may bring a private lawsuit against an employer.
FMLA does not affect any Federal or State law prohibiting discrimination, or supersede any State or local law or collective bargaining agreement which provides greater family or medical leave rights.
Protection of Health Insurance Benefits
While on FMLA leave, an employee's health insurance coverage will be maintained in the same manner as during the employee's active employment status. Employees are responsible for paying their share of health insurance premiums while on leave. In some instances, Hofstra may recover premiums it paid to maintain health coverage for an employee who fails to return to work from FMLA leave.
Return to Work
Upon returning from leave, the employees who take FMLA leave for a serious health condition must submit a fitness-for-duty certification, stating that they can work and perform the essential functions of the job. Employees who do not provide this certification will not be permitted to return to work. Employees returning from FMLA leave will be restored to the employee's original job, or to an equivalent job. If the employee requesting FMLA leave is a "key employee," restoration to employment may be denied following FMLA leave on the grounds that such restoration will cause substantial and grievous economic injury to the University.
Military Family Leave
The FMLA also provides job protection of unpaid leave for up to a total of 26 workweeks of leave during a 12-month period for an eligible employee who is the spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin of a covered service member in the Armed Forces to care for a covered service member with a serious injury or illness. This particular leave will only be available during a single 12 month period. Those employees taking FMLA leave for covered service members must provide the Office of Human Resources with sufficient proof of eligibility for this leave and the requisite certification issued by a health care provider stating that the service member is being cared for by the employee. A serious injury or illness for covered service members under the FMLA is distinct from the FMLA definition of “serious health condition.”
In addition, eligible employees with a spouse, son, daughter, or parent on covered active duty or call to covered active duty status may use their 12-week leave entitlement to address certain qualifying exigencies (e.g. attending certain military events, arranging for alternative childcare, addressing certain financial and legal arrangements, and attending post-deployment reintegration briefings). Certification of Qualifying Exigency for Military Family must be submitted to Human Resources to qualify for the leave entitlement.
For more information on FMLA leave, please contact the Office of Human Resources or go to http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/posters/fmlaen.pdf for the U.S. Department of Labor's Employee Rights and Responsibilities Under the Family Medical Leave Act notice.