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 HR Leave Center at 5-3652.
STEP 1: NOTIFY MANAGER
- Do not discuss medical information with your manager.
- 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: REQUEST FML FROM THE HR LEAVE CENTER
- Call the HR Leave Center 5-3652 to request FML.
- The HR Leave Center will work with you to discuss required documentation and your next steps.
- 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.
- Ensure the employee has called the HR Leave Center to request FML. You can run the Extended Leave Case Summary Report as confirmation.
- 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.
- Contact the HR Leave Center only if employee is not able to do so due to incapacity. If the employee is not incapacitated and does not contact the HR Leave Center, it will be considered a violation of the FML policy. If the manager is contacted by the employee's designee, the manager should instruct the designee to call the HR Leave Center.
STEP 3: PRELIMINARY APPROVAL
A preliminary approval or denial notice will be sent to the employee within 5 business days of the FML request. The notice will include a medical certification form to complete if applicable.
The HR Leave Center will preliminarily approve the request pending the receipt and review of the FMLA Certification of Health Care Provider form (medical certification).
The preliminary approval may be rescinded/denied retroactively if the medical certification is not received.
Managers are copied on the notifications stated above.
STEP 4: MEDICAL DOCUMENTATION
You are required to submit the 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 you a receipt confirmation within 1 business day from receiving the paperwork. If you do not receive the confirmation, 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/DENIAL OF FML
The HR Leave Center will approve or deny the FML request once the medical certification has been reviewed. If an incomplete or insufficient form is received, the HR Leave Center will notify you of the information needed. If a completed or sufficient form is not received by the deadline, the request for FML will be denied. Managers are copied on the approval or denial.
STEP 6: CHANGE PENDING OR APPROVED FML
If you need to request a modification to your leave due to a change in your medical condition, you must notify your manager and the HR Leave Center at 5-3652 in advance if possible. Failing to notify your manager and the HR Leave Center of the need to extend or modify your leave is subject to the Attendance Policy (UTMDACC Institutional Policy # ADM0289).
STEP 7: EMPLOYEE PAY & USE OF ACCRUED LEAVE
- Employees are required to use all applicable accruals in conjunction with any pending or approved FML.
- For continuous leaves of absence, the HR Leave Center will code all applicable accruals for the duration of the employee’s leave.
- For intermittent leave, managers and timekeepers will ensure appropriate use of accruals according to the PTO Program guidelines. See applicable leave policies.
STEP 8: COMMUNICATIONS
- It's important to keep in touch with employees on leave in order to make return to work plans, plan for the department’s operational 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 your managers about maintaining contact with them during the leave period.
STEP 9: WHILE ON LEAVE
Managers are not allowed to assign work to employees who are on leave. Similarly, employees are not to perform work during 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 medical condition may be such that it requires the use of intermittent time off. Two types of intermittent 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 your scheduled workday/week.
- Reduced Schedule Leave - a change in your schedule that reduces the usual number of working hours per workday/week on a scheduled basis. You are required to use your accruals for any time missed during your scheduled workday/week.
Process for Requesting Intermittent FML
Please refer to steps 1 through 8 in the section "Process for Requesting FML" plus:
- Notify your manager in advance of any scheduled appointments.
- Provide your manager with an appointment and/or treatment schedule within 2 weeks. 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 an intermittent or reduced schedule leave, the institution may transfer you to an equivalent position in another department that better accommodates your needs. This option may be taken to limit the negative impact the operational needs of the department.
Intermittent Leave for Childbirth, Adoption, Foster Placement or Surrogacy
Requests for intermittent or reduced schedule leave instead of continuous leave is not an entitlement and is 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 placement or surrogacy date. You must work with your manager to determine the intermittent schedule before 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 the 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.
- Parents may only use Extended Illness Bank (EIB) or sick leave time during the recovery period.
- For a non-cesarean section birth, parents may use up to a maximum of 6 weeks of EIB or sick leave from the date of admission.
- For a cesarean section birth, the parents may use up to a maximum of 8 weeks EIB or sick leave from the date of delivery.
- The non-birth parent must submit documentation to support a cesarean section birth. If documentation is not received, only 6 weeks of EIB or sick leave will be used.
- When EIB or sick leave is exhausted or the period of recovery ends, other applicable accruals will be used.
- A request (from the birth mother or spouse) for FML due to a health condition during pregnancy is treated the same as for any other FML request.
Adoption and Foster Placement
Employees may use EIB or sick leave in conjunction with FML when a child under the age of three is adopted regardless of whether the child is sick at the time of adoption or placement.
Employees may use up to a maximum of 6 weeks of EIB or sick leave during FML from the date of admission.
You are required to use all accumulated applicable accrued leave before going on leave without pay.1 Use of accrued leave is optional if you are eligible for Workers’ Compensation insurance benefits while on FML. Workers’ Compensation Insurance Policy (UTMDACC Institutional Policy # ADM0276).
Once you begin a leave of absence, accrued during the leave period will not be available for use until you return to work. For any full months of leave without pay, you are not eligible to receive any leave accrued time 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.