The Family and Medical Leave Act is a federal law that provides unpaid job protection for certain family and medical related leave of absences. It is designed to help balance the demands of the workplace with the needs of your family. Through this law, employees can better manage their work and family responsibilities by taking reasonable unpaid leave for certain family and medical reasons. If approved for Family and Medical Leave (FML), you are entitled to:
- Continuation of group health benefits during leave,
- No loss of group health benefits upon return from leave, and
- Reinstatement to the same position or to an equivalent position (a position in the same job family, with substantially similar duties, shift, scheduling options, responsibilities and rate of pay) upon the employee’s return.
Under FML, you may take up to a total of 12 workweeks (480 hours for full-time employees; prorated for part-time employees) of leave during a 12 month period for the following reasons:
- Birth/care of a newborn (time may be taken before the birth if the birth mother is unable to work, or within 12 months after the birth.)
- Placement of a child with you through adoption, surrogacy or foster care, and to care for the child within 12 months of placement.
- To care for the employee’s spouse, child or parent with a health condition.
- For your own health condition that makes you unable to perform one or more essential job functions.
- Any qualifying exigency as determined by the Secretary of Labor arising out of the fact that your spouse, child or parent is on active duty (or has been notified of an impending call or order to active duty) in the armed forces in support of a contingency operation.
- Military Caregiver Leave - You may also take up to a total of 26 workweeks during a single 12-month period (inclusive of all reasons) to care for the employee’s spouse, child, parent or next of kin who is a member of the United States armed forces, including a member of the National Guard or Reserves, who has a serious injury or illness and is:
- Undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy;
- In outpatient status; or
- On the temporary disability retired list.
Military Caregiver Leave may only be used once per veteran, per serious injury or illness during an employee’s employment with MD Anderson (or other Texas State Agency or institution). Employees should call the HR Leave Center if they may have a need for leave under this provision.
An employee will not be disciplined, penalized, restrained, coerced, or otherwise prejudiced in employment for initiating a good faith request for using or taking approved leave under this program.
Employees, educational appointees and trainees are eligible for FML when they meet all of the following:
- Worked for MD Anderson (or other State of Texas agency or institution) for at least 12 months. The 12-month employment requirement does not have to be consecutive;
- Earned at least 1,250 hours of service at MD Anderson (or other State of Texas agency or institution) in the 12 months before taking leave;* and
- Work at a location where MD Anderson has at least 50 employees within 75 miles of the employee's worksite.
*Special "hours of service" requirements applies to airline flight crew employees.
MD Anderson uses the "rolling calendar" method; e.g., a twelve month period is measured backward from the requested leave start date.
You can find additional information regarding FML by contacting the Leave Center at 5-FMLA.
STEP 1: NOTIFY MANAGER
You must contact your manager to request leave.
- If the need is foreseeable, give your manager 30 days notice.
- If the need is not foreseeable, notify your manager within one to two working days once you are aware of the need to take leave.
- If the leave is for planned appointments or treatments, or requires intermittent or reduced schedule leave, you must notify your manager and be prepared to work with your manager on integrating your FML absence into the unit’s work schedule when possible.
STEP 2: REQUESTING FML
- You must immediately contact the HR Leave Center (5-FMLA) after notifying your manager. The HR Leave Center will work with you (and manager as needed) to advise you of necessary documentation and discuss expectations.
- You must call the HR Leave Center to request FML and to provide accurate and complete information.
- If you are incapacitated, your designee may call to initiate the leave request on your behalf.
- You are expected to follow departmental call-in procedures.
- If by the 4th day of an employee’s absence the employee is not listed on the Extended Leave Case Summary report, the manager should contact the HR Leave Center to report the absence.
- The manager should only contact the HR Leave Center when the employee is not able to do so due to incapacity. If the employee is not incapacitated and fails to follow instructions to contact the HR Leave Center, it will be considered a violation of the FML policy. If the manager is contacted by your designee, the manager should instruct the designee to call the HR Leave Center.
STEP 3: PRELIMINARY APPROVAL
The HR Leave Center will tentatively approve the request pending receipt and review of the FMLA Certification of Health Care Provider form (medical certification) from the healthcare provider. The manager will be copied on the preliminary approval. If eligible for FML, a packet will be sent to you within 5 business days of your request and will include a blank copy of the medical certification.
Preliminary approval may be rescinded/denied retroactively if the medical certification is not received.
STEP 4: MEDICAL DOCUMENTATION
You are required to submit a completed medical certification to the HR Leave Center within 15 calendar days of the receipt of the preliminary approval notice. If you provide an email address, the HR Leave Center will send a receipt confirmation within 24 hours of the medical certification form being received. If that confirmation is not received, you are encouraged to contact your health care provider to check the status of the medical certification.
The HR Leave Center has the authority to contact your health care provider to authenticate or clarify FML documentation.
STEP 5: APPROVAL OF FML
The HR Leave Center will approve or deny the FML request once the medical certification is received. If a completed form is not received, the request for FML will be denied. Managers are copied on the approval or denial.
STEP 6: CHANGING APPROVED FML
If you need to request a change in the leave that is granted in the preliminary approval or final approval due to a change in your medical condition, you must notify your manager and the HR Leave Center at 713-745-3652 (5-FMLA) in advance if possible. Failing to notify your manager and the HR Leave Center of the need to extend or modify approved leave is subject to the provisions of the Attendance Policy (UTMDACC Institutional Policy ADM0289).
STEP 7: EMPLOYEE PAY & USE OF ACCRUED LEAVE
- Employees are required to use applicable accruals in conjunction with any approved FML time.
- For continuous leaves of absence, the HR Leave Center will code applicable accruals for the duration of the employee’s leave.
- For intermittent leave, managers will ensure appropriate use of accruals according to the PTO Program guidelines. See applicable leave policies.
STEP 8: COMMUNICATIONS
- Keep in touch with employees on leave in order to assist with return to work plans, plan for the department’s work needs and enhance potential retention.
- To maintain compliance with the FML law, read How to Talk to Employees on Extended Leave as guidance for talking with employees while on leave.
Follow instructions from managers about maintaining contact with management about their plans during the leave period.
STEP 9: WHILE ON LEAVE
Managers are not allowed to assign work while employee is on approved leave. Similarly, employees are not to perform work during approved leave. This includes, but is not limited to attending meetings or conferences or checking or responding to work-related emails.
Your medical condition or your immediate family member’s condition may be such that it requires the use of intermittent time off. Two types of non-continuous leave are:
- Intermittent Leave - leave taken as needed and certified by the health care provider when an employee needs to miss work for appointments, treatments or episodes of incapacity during their scheduled workday or workweek whether planned or unplanned.
- Approval of intermittent FML for episodes of incapacity does not authorize you to have frequent tardies. You are expected to adhere to their scheduled start time unless medically necessary and certified by their health care provider.
- You are required to notify your manager in advance of any scheduled appointments.
- Reduced Schedule Leave - a change in your schedule that reduces the usual number of working hours per workweek or hours per workday on a scheduled basis. You are required to use your accruals for any time missed during their scheduled workday.
Process for Requesting Intermittent FML
Please refer to steps 1 through 8 in the section "Process for Requesting FML" plus:
- You should provide your manager with an appointment and/or treatment schedule within 2 weeks. While not required, it is requested that you consider the business needs of the department when scheduling appointments or treatments. Your manager may ask you to reschedule due to the business needs of the department. However, rescheduling should not interfere with medical care.
- If you request intermittent or reduced schedule leave, the institution may arrange a transfer to an equivalent position in another department that better accommodates your leave in an effort to limit negatively impacting the operational needs of the department.
Intermittent Leave for Childbirth, Adoption, Foster or Surrogacy Placement
Requests for intermittent or reduced schedule leave for the birth, adoption, foster care or surrogacy placement of a child as opposed to continuous leave are not an entitlement and are subject to the approval of your manager. The manager must email an acknowledgement and authorization to the HR Leave Center in order for the request to be approved.
If intermittent leave is approved for this reason, the approved leave must be used within 12 months from the birth, adoption, foster or surrogacy placement date. You must work with your manager to determine the intermittent schedule in advance of taking the leave. While managers do not have the authority to approve or deny the overall FML request, they do have the discretion to determine if the requested intermittent schedule fits the operational needs of the department.
Reporting and Using Intermittent or Reduced Schedule FML
You must designate your absence as intermittent FML at the time of request or call-in. When you advise your manager of the need to take intermittent FML, medical details/symptoms should not be disclosed. Managers are responsible for ensuring intermittent or reduced schedule leave is reported to the HR Leave Center at the end of each week that time is taken by faxing the FML Intermittent Tracking Form to 713-745-8898.
- The birth mother may only use sick leave/Extended Illness Bank (EIB) time during the disability period.
- For a non-cesarean section birth, the birth mother may use up to a maximum of 6 weeks of EIB or Sick Leave from the date of delivery.
- For a cesarean section birth, the birth mother may use up to a maximum of 8 weeks EIB or Sick Leave from the date of delivery.
- The birth mother may use other applicable accruals as outlined below for the remainder of the approved FML period.
- A request (birth mother or spouse) for FML due to a health condition during pregnancy is treated the same as for any other health condition.
- For employees (not educational appointees and trainees):
- The birth mother may directly access EIB for childbirth from the date of hospital admission. When EIB leave is exhausted or the period of illness ends, other applicable accruals are used.
- The father or parent not giving birth may directly access EIB following childbirth (i) for 3 days from the date of hospitalization or (ii) during the period the mother is hospitalized, whichever is longer. Once the birth mother is released, applicable accruals are used.
For Adoption (including surrogacy)
Employees (not educational appointees and trainees) may use EIB leave in conjunction with FML when a child under the age of three is adopted regardless of whether the child is actually sick at the time of adoption.
You are required to use all accumulated applicable accrued leave before going on leave without pay.1 Available Compensatory leave will also run concurrently with FML and be used prior to going on leave without pay unless you specifically request that Compensatory leave not be used. Use of accrued leave is optional if you are eligible for Workers’ Compensation insurance benefits while on FML. Workers’ Compensation Policy (UTMDACC Institutional Policy ADM0276).
Once you begin a leave of absence, any leave accrued during the leave period will not be available for use until you return to work. For any full months of unpaid leave, you are not eligible to receive any leave accruals for those unpaid months.
If you are approved for a leave of absence through RPL, the duration of the absence will be applied towards the 12 workweek entitlement of FML if the employee is eligible for FML.
All information relating to requests for FML are confidential and are shared only on a need to know basis. All medical information including the medical certification is treated as confidential and HIPAA protected.
If you believe that your approved FML is not being granted, you should first talk with your supervisor. If your concerns are not resolved at this level, you should immediately contact the HR Leave Center (5-FMLA.) The HR Leave Center will review the matter and clarify the rights and responsibilities related to the approved FML.
Obtaining or using job-protected leave under false pretenses or falsifying medical documents is subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination.