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Family and Medical Leave

Policy Number: HR-33
Effective Date: July 2002
Last Revision: August 2010
Responsible Officer: Senior Vice President of Student Life & Administrative Services
Administering Division: Human Resources

PURPOSE

This policy identifies the conditions when an eligible employee may take time off under the Federal Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) and includes the application, certification and approval processes.

APPLICABILITY

This policy applies to all benefit-eligible non-faculty employees including those affiliated with collective bargaining units and who meet each of the following conditions:

  1. employed by Drexel for at least twelve months, either consecutive or non-consecutive
  2. worked at least 1,250 hours of service during the twelve-month period prior to the start of Family Medical Leave.

POLICY

Act Provisions/Compliance

  1. Drexel complies fully with the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to provide its employees up to 12 weeks of leave in a rolling 12-month period, for their own or a family member’s serious or chronic medical condition(s).
  2. FMLA allows up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a rolling 12-month period for one or more of 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.
  3. Drexel also offers up to 26 weeks of leave to employees who provide care to wounded U.S. military personnel and 12 weeks of FMLA leave to the immediate family members of soldiers, reservists and members of the National Guard who have a “qualifying exigency.”

Definitions

Benefit eligible refers to full-time or part-time Drexel employees who are eligible to receive Drexel paid benefits (e.g. medical coverage, leave accrual, etc.).  Full-time employees are regularly scheduled to work 40 hours per week and part-time employees are regularly scheduled to work 20 hours per week but less than 40.

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. Continuing care can include:

  • 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)

Health-care Provider is defined as a doctor, dentist, optometrist, psychologist, nurse practitioner, chiropractor, or a licensed social worker.

Intermittent Leave is defined as any portion of a day that an employee must take off for a chronic condition. The FMLA allows employees to take leave for as little as one hour.

Qualifying Exigency is defined as one or more of the following:

  • short notice (seven days or less) of deployment, military events and related activities;
  • childcare, school activities, financial and legal arrangements, counseling, rest and recuperation, post-deployment activities; or
  • any other events which arise out of the covered military member’s active duty or call to active duty status that the employer and employee have agreed upon

PROCEDURES

Administration

Effective January 1, 2013, the Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) program will be administered by MetLife. 

Request for FMLA

  1. Eligible employees may apply for FMLA by calling MetLife at 1-877-638-8262.
  2. Employees seeking FMLA leave are required to provide at least 30 days prior written notice of the proposed leave. When advance notice is not possible, such as in the event of a medical emergency, notice should be provided as soon as practicable. Failure to provide advance notice where foreseeable may delay or postpone the commencement of the leave.
  3. When an eligible employee contacts MetLife to apply for FMLA, MetLife will request the necessary information, instruct the employee on follow-up and grant provisional approval (in writing) of the FMLA leave.  MetLife will also send the medical certification form to the employee for completion by their health care provider.
  4. Once a medical certification is requested by MetLife, the employee must provide it within 15 business days. Failure to provide requested medical certification will result in denial of the request.  Denied requests cannot be reopened for the same condition.

Employee Notices

  1. If the FMLA request is approved, the employee must notify their immediate supervisor of their impending leave and the expected duration.  However, the employee does not have to reveal or discuss the details of the medical condition. It is recommended that employees only discuss medical details with the professionals at MetLife or a member of the Human Resources department.

Certifications

  1. If FMLA leave is based on a serious health condition, whether it involves the employee or an immediate family member (parent, spouse or child), medical certification from a health care provider will be required. Failure to provide such certification may result in a delay of the employee’s leave.
  2. When medical certification is required, that certification must be provided within fifteen (15) calendar days of MetLife's request.  Drexel reserves the right to require recertification of a medical condition every 30 days.  When an employee learns of a change in the anticipated length of an approved FMLA leave, the employee must notify MetLife within three (3) business days of learning of such a change.
  3. In addition, when returning to work from a leave taken because of the employee’s own serious health condition, the employee will be required to provide medical certification that the employee is fit to return to work.
  4. Drexel reserves the right to obtain a second opinion by a certified health care provider at any time and chosen by Drexel.  Should the two opinions conflict, Drexel may require that the employee obtain the opinion of a third health care provider paid for by Drexel. The third health care provider will be designated or approved jointly by Drexel and the employee. The decision of the third provider will be final. Failure to submit to a request for a second opinion or to attend the independent medical examination may result in delay of approval or denial of FMLA leave and/or revocation of currently approved FMLA leave.

Duration of FMLA Leave

  1. Eligible employees may be entitled to up to twelve (12) weeks of unpaid leave during any rolling 12-month period. The period from the previous twelve months will be examined and any Family and Medical Leave taken during the previous twelve-month period will be subtracted from the current twelve-week Family and Medical Leave entitlement. For example, if the employee requests a leave scheduled to start on October 1, 2009, the time period from September 30, 2009 back to October 1, 2008 would be examined. If the employee has not taken any leave during the last twelve months, they are entitled to up to twelve weeks of FMLA leave. If, the employee took six weeks of FMLA leave during May and June of 2008 (months within the twelve- month time frame) they would be entitled to only six more weeks of leave.
  2. In certain circumstances, employees may take intermittent leave. Intermittent leave for the birth and care or placement and care of a child for adoption or foster care will be allowed only with Drexel’s prior written approval. Intermittent leave may be taken whenever medically necessary to care for a seriously ill family member or because of the employee’s own serious health condition. For example, an employee who normally works 40 hours a week may work 20 hours a week for 24 weeks (12 x 40 = 24 x 20). For part-time employees and those who work variable hours, the leave entitlement is calculated on a pro-rata basis. For example, an employee who normally works 30 hours a week could work intermittently for 20 hours a week for 18 weeks (30 x 12 = 20 x 18).
  3. FMLA applies equally to male and female employees. Where both spouses are employed by Drexel, they have the same rights and obligations under this policy as any other eligible employee.  Each spouse is entitled to 12 weeks of FMLA leave for the birth and care of their newborn child, or for the care and placement with them of a child for adoption or foster care.  Leave for the birth and care, or placement and care of a child must conclude within 12 months of the birth or placement of the child.

FMLA Expanded for Military Leave

  1. Eligible employees who are caregivers of wounded military personnel may take up to 26 weeks of unpaid leave during a rolling 12-month period to provide care for an injured U.S. military service member. The employee must be a spouse, child, parent, or nearest blood relative of the service member.
  2. Employees whose family members are about to go on active military duty may be eligible to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for any qualifying exigency while the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is on active duty in the armed services or is called to active duty in support of a war or national emergency.

Compensation when using Paid Leave

  1. When an employee takes FMLA leave because of the employee’s own serious medical condition, the employee is required to use all of their available paid time during the FMLA leave. The employee will be required to exhaust all available sick time (if applicable) and vacation time at the beginning of the leave. The employee may substitute short-term disability (if applicable) for vacation time. Should the employee exhaust his/her accrued sick and/or vacation time, the remainder of the leave, if any, will be unpaid.
  2. For employees who are eligible for short-term disability through MetLife, they must notify MetLife of their intention to activate their short-term disability benefit.  MetLife will determine if additional medical certification is necessary.  If short-term disability is approved, the employee should notify the HR Coordinator of the approval. 
  3. Paid leave that is used during FMLA leave will be counted toward the 12 weeks of FMLA leave.  Employees on paid leave are considered to be in an “active pay status”.  Accruals for sick and vacation time continue during an active pay status.
  4. Employees who are not being paid by Drexel (e.g., receiving short-term disability payments) are considered to be in an “inactive pay status”.  Accruals for sick and vacation time cease during an inactive pay status.

Benefits During Leave

  1. During any FMLA leave, Drexel will maintain the employee’s health insurance on the same conditions that coverage would have been provided if the employee had been continuously employed during the entire leave period. Drexel and the employee will each continue to pay their portion of the benefit costs. Drexel may recover premiums it paid to maintain health coverage for an employee who fails to return to work from FMLA leave.
  2. University-paid life insurance, and personal accident insurance, accidental death and dismemberment, and long-term disability insurance will continue in effect for the duration of FMLA leave.
  3. An employee who was participating in a dependent-care or health-care reimbursement account may continue to participate in accordance with policy provisions. No contributions can be made while the employee is on any unpaid part of an FMLA Leave.
  4. Retirement plan contributions will continue in accordance with the provisions specified in the respective retirement plan documents.
  5. FMLA benefits run concurrently with benefits provided by Worker’s Compensation.

Return from Leave

  1. Employees returning from leave will be reinstated to the same or equivalent position, with equivalent pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment. Failure to return to work will be considered voluntary termination of employment.
  2. Employees returning from a leave for a serious health condition must provide Human Resources with a certification from a health care provider documenting their fitness to return to work. Employees who are unable to return to work at the end of the leave should notify Human Resources as soon as possible.
  3. In addition, except as provided in this policy, an employee’s use of FMLA leave will not result in the loss of any employment benefit that the employee earned before using FMLA leave. Use of FMLA leave will not be counted against the employee as an “occurrence” under Drexel’s Attendance Policy.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Inquiries regarding this policy can be directed to the Human Resources Department.