Facing the Birth or Adoption of a Child or Other Life Circumstances - Family Leave Options
A variety of leave options exist to help all employees balance their work and family responsibilities. Academic year faculty who need leave time for birth or adoption of a child, care of a sick family member, or other family responsibilities may use disability leave or leave without pay. Family Medical Leave benefits may also apply regardless of the pay status of the leave. The following is a summary of complex policies that govern the availability of pay and benefits relating to birth and adoption. For more complete information, refer to the applicable collective bargaining agreement or employee handbook. Further questions about benefits should be directed to Kathleen Bell at 581-2360.
Benefit Coverage During Leaves
While an employee is on any paid leave, benefit coverage continues with no additional cost to the employee. During an unpaid leave of absence that qualifies as a family medical leave, health insurance coverage continues on the same terms as during active employment, with the University and the employee each paying the customary share of premiums. If the employee is not eligible for FMLA leave or the employee continues to need unpaid leave after the maximum 12 week FMLA period, the employee is responsible for the full cost of continued benefit coverage.
Family Medical Leave
An employee who requests leave for the employee’s own serious illness (including a workers’ compensation injury), the birth or adoption of a child , care for a sick family member who is eligible, or for Military Family Leave for a qualifying exigency for leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is entitled to up to 12 weeks of FMLA leave each year. Employees may request Military Family Leave to care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness and are entitled to up to 26 weeks of leave in a year. Family and Medical Leave may not be denied. Eligible employees are those:
- who have worked for the University for at least 12 months (not necessarily consecutive)
- who have provided at least 1,250 hours of service during the prior twelve months
- whose medical condition (or family member’s medical condition) qualifies as a serious medical condition under the FMLA
The University places an eligible employee on a Family Medical Leave when the absence from work is for two weeks or longer. Disability leave, annual leave, compensatory time, and leave without pay may be used during the period of FMLA leave as explained below and in accordance with applicable University policies.
An employee who does not qualify for federal FMLA leave may qualify for leave under the Maine Family Medical Leave Law. Under state law, an employee who has worked for the University for 12 consecutive months is eligible for up to ten work weeks of family medical leave during any two year period for:
- the employee’s own serious illness (including a workers’ compensation injury)
- the birth or adoption of a child, including a domestic partner’s child
- the serious health condition of a parent, spouse, sibling, domestic partner or child, including a domestic partner’s child.
Disability leave, annual leave, compensatory time, and leave without pay may be used during the period of Maine Family Medical Leave as explained below and in accordance with applicable University Policies.
Medical certification is normally required for leave under the FMLA both for an employee’s illness and for the illness of a family member. However, no medical certification is needed for the first six weeks of a woman’s absence due to childbirth, the first two weeks of a spouse’s or domestic partner’s leave upon the birth of a child, the care of a child in the first year after birth, or adoption or placement of a foster child.
Faculty Who Give Birth
Leave requests for up to 12 weeks for the birth of a child must be granted under FMLA if the employee meets the eligibility requirements. The leave may be taken anytime during the first year after the birth.
A faculty member who gives birth may use accrued disability leave for the period of time during which she is medically unable to work before and/or after the birth. Use of disability leave will normally be approved for six weeks following a birth without requiring a doctor’s certification. Longer use of disability leave is appropriate if the mother has a serious medical condition as defined by the FMLA; it requires a doctor’s certification of medical necessity. If a woman does not have enough accrued disability leave to cover the period during which she is unable to work, she may request a leave without pay. Fiscal year faculty may also use accrued annual leave. Leave requests for more than 12 weeks require the supervisor’s approval. In unusual circumstances where a woman is medically unable to work for more than six months, she should apply for long-term disability benefits.
If the mother would like leave to care for the infant beyond the period during which she is medically unable to work, she may use annual leave (if available), when paid leave time is exhausted, she may request leave without pay for up to one year. For faculty members, time spent on leave without pay for personal reasons will not count toward the probationary period for tenure unless mutually agreed in writing at the time the leave request is granted.
Employees who are spouses or domestic partners
Leave requests up to 12 weeks for the birth of a child must be granted to a spouse under FMLA if the employee meets the eligibility requirements. Although the Federal FMLA does not cover domestic partners, the Maine FMLA provides up to ten weeks of leave to an employee whose domestic partner gives birth to a child. The leave may be taken anytime during the first year after the birth.
Upon birth of a child, a spouse or domestic partner may use disability leave (within policy limitations), annual leave, and/or leave without pay. Fiscal year faculty may also use accrued annual leave.
The employee may use disability leave only for the time period during which he/she is needed to provide family care due to the birth mother’s disability. Faculty may use up to 30 days of disability leave annually to provide care for a newborn child. Disability leave may be supplemented by annual leave or an approved leave without pay.
When the leave is to care for a domestic partner or domestic partner’s child, the leave is covered under the State FMLA and allows for up to ten weeks of leave in a two year period.
Either parent may request leave at the time of adoption of a child. The federal FMLA provides all employees with up to twelve weeks of leave following adoption or placement of a child; Maine FMLA provides employees whose domestic partner adopts a child up to ten weeks of leave following adoption or placement. Faculty may use up to 30 days of accrued disability leave for adoption if the adoption requires the employee’s presence (such as foreign travel for an international adoption, or agency requirements that a parent remain home with a child after placement). All employees may use annual leave or request a leave without pay during the adoption.
Placement of a foster child is treated like adoption for purposes of employee leave requests.