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Family Medical Leave Frequently Asked Questions

MetLife is responsible for coordinating Leave of Absence and Disability Benefits for employees of Drexel University and Drexel University College of Medicine.  Below are a list of frequently asked questions of employees, supervisors/managers and timekeepers:

General Family Medical Leave Questions

What is the Family and Medical Leave Act?

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for certain qualifying events.  Paid leave must be substituted for unpaid leave in certain cases per Drexel’s policy.

Who is eligible for Family and Medical Leave?

You are eligible for Family and Medical Leave (FML) if you have been employed by the University for at least twelve (12) months and have worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12-month period immediately preceding the start of the leave.

How is the 12-month period determined?

The 12-month period is a rolling 12-month period measured backward from the date FML begins.

Do the 1,250 hours include paid leave or other absences from work?

No, the 1,250 hour requirement only includes time that counts towards “hours worked.”  So, for example, the 1,250 hours would not include:

  • Vacation, sick and personal holidays or
  • Previous periods of FML leave

For what reasons can I use FML?

Eligible employees can use FML for the following reasons:

  • An employee’s own chronic health condition, including disability due to pregnancy   and/or post-partum;
  • The birth and care of an employee’s newborn child;
  • The placement of an adopted son or daughter or a foster child with an employee (leave must conclude within 12 months after placement);
  • The care of an employee’s immediate family member (spouse, child or parent) with a serious health condition;
  • An employee’s own serious health condition that makes him or her unable to work;
  • FMLA also allows up to 26 weeks of leave to employees who provide care to wounded U.S. military personnel and 12 weeks of FML to the immediate family members of soldiers, reservists and members of the National Guard who have a “qualifying exigency.”

What is a serious health condition?

Serious Health Condition is defined as an illness, injury or impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves either inpatient care or continuing care by a health-care provider:

  • a period of incapacity requiring absence of more than three calendar days that involves continuing treatment by a health-care provider;
  • pregnancy and time needed for prenatal visits;
  • a chronic health condition, such as asthma or diabetes;
  • a long-term condition such as Alzheimer’s; or
  • multiple treatments by a health-care provider for a condition that likely would result in incapacity of more than three consecutive days if left untreated (such as physical therapy for a back injury).

I would like to take FML for an elective surgery. Is this allowed?

Some elective surgeries are allowed under the FML policy depending on the type of procedure and the employee’s medical history.  You should contact MetLife at 1-877-638-8262 to apply for FML and they will make the determination on whether your leave can be covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Can leave for childbirth or adoption be taken at any time?

No.  This type of leave must be taken within 12 months after the birth or placement for adoption or foster care.  In some instances, the leave may start before the birth or placement for adoption, such as leave for pre-natal care or for home studies in connection with adoption.

Can leave be taken to care for children any age?

  • Non-military FML is only available to care for a child under the age of 18, or a child over the age of 18 with a disability where the child is unable to perform activities of daily living without assistance.
  • However, the FMLA regulations contain special definitions for son and daughter for both of the military leave provisions.  For qualifying exigency leave, an eligible employee may take leave for his or her son or daughter on active duty or call to active duty status which is defined as the employee’s biological, adopted, or foster child, stepchild, legal ward, or child for whom the employee stood in loco parentis, who is any age.
  • Under the FMLA for military caregiver leave, a parent of a covered service member means a covered service member’s biological, adoptive, step or foster father or mother, or any other individual who stood in loco parentis to the covered service member.  This term does not include parents “in law.”

How much paid time off am I entitled to for pregnancy?

Disability resulting from pregnancy is treated like other disabilities with respect to paid leave time.  The normal period of disability from the date of delivery is a maximum of six (6) weeks for a normal delivery, eight (8) weeks for a Caesarean Section or the length of time stipulated to be medically necessary by the employee’s physician. 

Note: If applicable, the amount of leave that will be paid will depend upon the amount of sick and vacation accrued and the short-term disability payments.

My spouse and I are employees of the University and are expecting the birth of our child. Can both of us apply for a leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act?

Yes.  Under Drexel’s FML Policy, where both parents/domestic partners are employed by the University, they are each entitled to 12 weeks of FML for the birth and care of their newborn child, or for the care and placement of a child for adoption or foster care.  FMLA applies equally to male and female employees.

How do I add my newborn and/or newly adopted child to my health insurance?

You have 31 days from the birth, to make a change to your benefit elections due to this qualifying life event.  You will be required to furnish written proof of a status change event such as a birth announcement or birth certificate.  To initiate your change, please visit the online enrollment system through DrexelOne. 

  1. Log into DrexelOne
  2. Select the Employees tab
  3. Select the Benefits Service Center link under the Benefits Administration heading
  4. Select Birth or Adoption under "Life Events." Once you select the link, the system will guide you through the process.

Application Process

How much notice do I have to give my supervisor before I go out on FML?

Employees seeking FML are required to provide their supervisors and MetLife at least 30-day notice of the proposed leave.  Where advance notice is not possible, such as in the event of a medical emergency, notice should be given as soon as possible.  Failure to give advance notice, where foreseeable, may delay or postpone the commencement of the leave.

What proof must I submit to validate my request for Family Medical Leave?

Medical certification from a health care provider will be required if FML is based on a serious health condition of an employee or family member.  The University also requires medical certification/birth certificate if the FML is due to the birth of a child.  Additionally, an “Intent to Adopt” form is required if the FML is for the placement of a child for adoption.  Failure to provide such certification may result in the delay or denial of the employee’s leave.  Please notify your supervisor and contact MetLife.

How long do I have to obtain the completed medical certification form from a health care provider?

The medical certification must be provided within 15 business days of MetLife's request.  Employees should be aware that in certain circumstances, you may be required to submit re-certification of a medical condition.  In addition, employees may be required to report when they intend to return to work.  Whenever an employee learns of a change in the anticipated length of a FML, the employee must notify MetLife and their immediate supervisor within three business days of knowing of the change.

Coordination of FML and Sick Leave/Short-term Disability/Worker's Compensation

What happens if I am injured on the job and my doctor recommends that I stay home from work for one month? Will I utilize my accrued sick time to cover this period of recuperation? Would this job-related injury count against my FML entitlement?

In the event of a work-related injury or illness that will result in a loss of time, Worker’s Compensation payments will begin only after the 7th calendar day of absence (the waiting period).  During the waiting period, the employee’s sick leave may be used.  Employees who are out of the workplace due to a work-related injury or illness may be required to concurrently use benefits under the Family and Medical Leave Policy if the reason for the absence is due to a qualifying illness or injury. For additional information regarding Worker’s Compensation payments, please contact the Office of Risk Management.

I would prefer not to use any of my sick leave during my FML. Can I choose to be unpaid for the full 12 weeks of leave even though I have sick leave?

No.  If an employee takes FML because of their own serious health condition, the employee must substitute any unused sick leave, if applicable, for any unpaid FML. 

Under what circumstances can I use short-term disability?

Short-term disability payments may be used (if applicable) for an approved continuous leave for an employee’s own serious health condition.  Payments cannot be paid for any other reason. 

Short-term disability payments may be paid provided the duration of the illness has been 30 or more days and all available sick time has been exhausted.

Coordination of FML and Other Benefits

If I am out on FML and have exhausted my paid time (i.e. sick and vacation days) does my health insurance coverage end?

No, during any FML, the University will maintain the employee’s medical, dental, vision, life and disability insurance coverage under the same conditions that coverage would have been provided if the employee had been continuously employed during the entire leave period.  The University and the employee will each continue to pay their portion of the benefit costs.  The employee’s benefit deductions will build up in arrears within the payroll system.  As soon as the employee receives his/her first check the total cost will be subtracted.  An employee, who fails to return to work from FML, will be required to reimburse the University for the premiums paid to maintain health coverage.

Returning to Work

What is my responsibility upon returning to work from FML?

If FML is due to your own serious health condition, you must present a note from your physician stating that you are able to return to work.  The note must specify the date that you are released to return and must list any physical or other restrictions if applicable. If your physician releases you to return to work with restrictions and/or places you on restricted hours, you should contact your HR Department and manager/supervisor prior to you return date to determine the appropriate accommodation. You may not begin work until your restrictions have been discussed with and approved by your HR Department.

Is my current position within my department guaranteed to be there when I return from medical leave?

Normally, employees returning from medical leave will be reinstated to the same or an equivalent position, with equivalent pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment.  Failure to return to work once FML have been exhausted may result in termination of employment.  However, at times, departments, schools, and/or centers may restructure due to changing business and operational needs and the need to continually enhance programs and services.  These restructuring initiatives may result in position discontinuations, even positions held by employees out on FML or other types of leaves.  If a position is discontinued during a FML, they will be given at least 30 days written notice of the position discontinuation and will be informed of any applicable benefits they may be eligible to receive under the Position Discontinuation and Severance Agreement.

Questions a Supervisor or Business Administrator Might Ask

What is my responsibility when an employee notifies me that they are taking a leave of absence?

The employee should be notified to contact MetLife to begin the application process for FML. Human Resources should also be notified when an employee begins their Family Medical Leave.

How are employees placed on leave in the system?

Once an employee begins FML, a completed Personnel Action Form (PAF) should be sent to Human Resources placing an employee on leave.  Once the employee returns to work, another PAF should be sent to HR with their return to work date.  Department administrators will be able to access the PAF in Web*Salary while an employee is on leave.

Am I able to hire a temporary employee while the employee is on Family Medical Leave?

Yes.  A temporary employee can be hired during this timeframe.  However, the employee’s salary is not available for use if they are being paid sick and vacation time during their leave.

How does the employee record their time off during their leave of absence?

If an employee is on a continuous leave of absence i.e. January thru March, Human Resources will submit the employees sick and/or vacation time to Payroll for processing.

If an employee is on an intermittent leave, the employee is still responsible for entering their time through the DrexelOne portal each pay period.  The supervisor or department administrator will then approve the timesheet/leave report as normal.

What happens to the employee’s access to e-mail accounts, building access, etc. when an employee is on FML?

If an employee is on a full leave, their access is suspended until they return from leave.  If they are on an intermittent leave, their access will remain active for the duration for their leave.  Employees should also return their office keys prior to the start of their leave.

What should happen with an employee’s P-Card while they are on leave?

If an employee is on a full leave, the P-Card should be returned to the department for the duration of the leave.  The P-Card should be returned to the employee once they are back to work.  If they are on an intermittent leave, the employee should retain the card.

Is the employee eligible for holiday pay while they are on leave?

Yes, as long as the employee has sick, vacation and/or regular time in the system in the pay period that the holiday occurs.  Once they exhaust their sick and vacation time they are no longer eligible for holiday pay.

Do they get paid for a snow day?

Only if they were scheduled to return to work on that day and the doctor note states they were scheduled to return.

Can personal days be used while an employee is on FML?

Only if the employee authorizes their department to charge their personal time; the authorization must be in writing via e-mail or letter and a copy should be sent to Human Resources.

What is required from an employee who is on leave during the Merit and Compliance Process?

While an employee is on leave during this process, they are not required to complete their Performance Evaluation, Conflict of Interest or Preventing Workplace Harassment training until they return to work.  Employees should not be penalized for not completing these items by the specified due date.

What happens if my employee does not return after twelve weeks?

The department has no further obligation to hold their position and the employee may be eligible for long-term disability benefits through MetLife.  The employee should contact MetLife for further details.