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Benefits - FMLA FAQ

What is Family and Medical Leave?

Both the state of Maine and the Federal Government have established laws giving employee rights to their jobs when absences related to certain situations prevent the employee from working.  These laws are called Family and Medical Leave (FMLA), and appropriate absences are protected so the employee cannot be fired or disciplined and can return to their job or an equivalent.

What absences are covered under FMLA laws?

Although there are some differences between State and Federal FMLA, an employee’s serious medical condition, an employee needing to provide care for a family member with a serious medical condition, and absences related to childbirth are the basic definitions for eligible absences.

 Are all employees eligible for FMLA leave?

No.  Eligibility for Federal leave requires that the employee have worked for the University for at least one year and have worked 1250 hours in the prior year.  Eligibility for Maine leave requires the 12 months of work, but there are no hours worked requirement.

 How much leave is allowed?

The total leave for Federal FMLA is 12 weeks in a year and for Maine leave it is 10 weeks in a two year period.  Adding these weeks together is not permitted.

 

How do I get paid during the leave?

There is no special paid leave available for Federal and Maine leave.  Pay during the leave is subject to University policy and the accrued leave that has been accumulated by the employee.

Can you give an example of what that means for me?

For an employee’s serious medical condition, you can use all of your accumulated sick/disability leave as long as it is medically supported.  For childbirth, in general the mother may use her sick/disability leave for the six weeks following childbirth with additional paid disability leave is possible with medical certification.  For the new father, University policy allows the employee to use 10 days of sick/disability leave.  Sick/disability leave to care for a family member varies by the Collective Bargaining Agreement.  Vacation/annual leave can be used to continue pay when the use of sick/disability leave is not appropriate.

How do I apply to take FMLA leave?

There are forms to request the leave and the form is completed by the employee and given to the supervisor.  Additional forms are required for your physician to certify that a serious medical condition exists and specifying the expected absence duration.  The medical certification forms are not reviewed by your supervisor and the completed form should be sent to Human Resources.

 

 Can my supervisor deny my FMLA leave request?

An eligible employee is entitled to take appropriate FMLA leave.  It is important to submit requests and medical documentation in advance of the leave when a leave is anticipated such as planned surgery or childbirth, or as soon as possible when a leave cannot be anticipated.  A memo is sent to your supervisor acknowledging approval of your leave.

What is intermittent leave?

When your absence isn’t necessary every day for your entire work day, intermittent leave may be possible.  For example, if you are caring for a parent with a serious medical condition, you may be able to work every afternoon, but you are doing caregiver responsibilities in the morning.  This absence pattern may be approved intermittent leave. However, you may be reassigned to an equivalent job for the period of the leave if that reassignment can better accommodate the leave.  If you have a serious medical condition where you are undergoing chemotherapy, you may need to be absent for several days while you are in treatment, but you are able to return to work for a few weeks before you need to have another treatment.  This is another example of intermittent leave.

 If I am sick, is that automatically considered a serious health condition?

No.  There are definitions such as hospitalizations and on-going treatments that are used to clarify a serious health condition under the laws.

What do I need to do to return to my job?

Depending on the reason and length of your absence, your medical provider may need to certify that you are able to return to work and will need to clarify if you have certain limitations such as the hours you can work in a day or job duty restrictions.  Such restrictions may involve a reasonable accommodation determination by the Office of Equal Opportunity.

How does Family and Medical Leave and Short Term Disability (STD) work?

The voluntary benefit of STD may pay in addition to paid leave from the University during an approved Family and Medical Leave absence related to the employee’s serious medical condition or childbirth.  If an employee is claiming STD benefits, you may, but are not required, to use your accrued paid leave.

What if my absence exceeds 12 weeks?

If you still have accrued paid leave, you will continue to get paid from the University.  However, if you leave becomes unpaid, the leave is designated as an unpaid leave for personal reasons and is subject to appropriate policies.

What are the benefits of FMLA?

Besides having your job guaranteed and protecting you from discipline, your health and dental insurance payments for Federal FMLA absences remain that as an employee in active status.  In other words, you are only responsible for the normal premium payments and not the 100% University cost.

Can I use sick time for a grandparent that is sick?

It depends on the employee contract which varies depending on bargaining unit, but typically grandparents are included in immediate family description


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