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Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA) - FAQs

Please visit Family and Medical Leave for more information about FMLA.

What is FMLA?

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a United States labor law which allows an employee a specific period of leave. Events that may qualify you for the use of FMLA include:

  • Birth and care of a newborn child.
  • Placement of a child through adoption or foster care.
  • Serious illness or injury rendering you unable to perform the duties of your job.
  • Care for a family member (parent, spouse, son, or daughter under 18, or over 18 if qualifying) with a serious condition, illness or injury.
  • A qualifying exigency occurs while your spouse, son, daughter, or parent is on active duty or called to active duty status in the National Guard or Reserves in support of a contingency operation to manage the service member’s affairs.
  • Care for a covered service member, who you have a qualified family relationship with, who has suffered a serious injury or illness in the line of duty or had an injury or illness that existed before the beginning of the member’s active duty and was aggravated by service in the line of duty while on active duty.

What does FMLA provide?

Qualifying leave under FMLA provides entitlement to maintenance of health benefits during leave, protection from discipline for FMLA qualifying absences, and job restoration to the same or an equivalent position. 

Who is responsible for designating leave as FMLA qualifying?

Human Resource Management, on behalf of the University, is responsible in all circumstances for designating leave as FMLA-qualifying, and for giving notice of the designation to the employee.

What medical conditions qualify for FMLA?

 FMLA is available for serious health conditions of an employee or an employee's family member. A serious health condition under FMLA may be identified when:

An employee due to his/her serious health condition or that of a family member has missed more than three full consecutive days of work, visited a health care provider within seven days of the first date of incapacity, and has subsequent treatment or a period of incapacity related to the same condition that involves:

  • Treatment two or more times within the first 30 days of incapacity by a health care provider; or
  • Treatment by a health provider on at least one occasion that results in a regimen of continuing treatment by a health care provider
  • Overnight inpatient hospital care and its resulting incapacity or subsequent treatment;
  • Incapacity due to pregnancy or for prenatal care
  • A chronic condition(s) which requires: Periodic visits, at least two annually, by a health care provider, nurse, physician’s assistant under the direct supervision of the health care provider;
    • Continues over an extended period of time; and
    • May cause episodic rather than a continuing period of incapacity (e.g. asthma, diabetes, epilepsy)
  • Permanent long term conditions requiring supervision by a health care provider but not active treatment (e.g., Alzheimer’s, a severe stroke, terminal stage of a disease); or
  • Multiple treatments - Any period of absence to receive multiple treatments (including any period of recovery therefrom) by a health care provider or by a provider of health care services under orders of, or on referral by, a health care provider, for: (i) Restorative surgery after an accident or other injury; or (ii) A condition that would likely result in a period of incapacity of more than three consecutive full calendar days in the absence of medical intervention or treatment, such as cancer (chemotherapy, radiation, etc.), severe arthritis (physical therapy), kidney disease (dialysis).

What conditions qualify for parental leave under FMLA?

Parental leave under FMLA may be granted for the birth of an employee’s child or placement of a child through adoption or foster care, and the care of the child upon birth. Such leave must be taken within the first 12 months following the birth or placement of the child.

As a faculty member, my request to Interrupt the Tenure Clock process due to a birth or adoption has been approved. Does that automatically approve me for FMLA?

No. FMLA paperwork must also be included to determine employee eligibility and that the birth or adoption meets the qualifying event factors as listed under FMLA and interruption of the tenure clock must be requested. For more information, please refer to the Policy on Interruption of the Probationary Period (Tenure Clock).

What military conditions qualify for FMLA?

  • Exigency Leave - eligible employees with a spouse, son, daughter, or parent on active duty or called to active duty status in the National Guard or Reserves or regular Armed Services in support of a contingency operation and deployed to a foreign country may use up to 12 weeks of leave entitled to address certain qualifying exigencies. Qualifying exigencies may vary but would included attending certain military events, arranging for alternative childcare, addressing certain financial and legal arrangements, attending certain counseling sessions, and attending post-deployment reintegration briefings.
  • Military Caregiver Leave - eligible employees may take up to 26 weeks of leave to care for a covered service member during a single 12-month period. A covered service member is a member of the Armed Forces, including a member of the National Guard or Reserves, who has incurred a serious injury or illness while deployed that may render the service member medically unfit to perform his or her duties. The service member must be undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, therapy. The medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy may begin at any time during the period of 5 years preceding the date on which the veteran undergoes that medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy.

Who are considered “family members” for purposes of FMLA?

  • Basic Medical Leave: Family members are limited to the employee’s legally married spouse, children under 18 (unless they are incapable of self care because of an eligible mental or physical disability), and the employee’s parents.
  • Exigency Leave: Spouse, son, daughter, or parent on active duty or called to active duty status in the National Guard or Reserves in support of a contingency operation.
  • Military Caregiver Leave: Spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin (bothers and sisters, grandparents, aunts and uncles, first cousins, or designation in writing by the service member of another relative as being his/her nearest blood relative).

What are the eligibility requirements for FMLA?

You are eligible for FMLA if you meet the following requirements:

  • You have been employed by the state of Kansas or the University in a position for at least 12 months within the last seven years, and
  • You have worked for the state of Kansas or the University for at least 1,250 hours within the 12 month period immediately preceding the qualifying event (qualifying events are explained in the next section).

At what time should the employee notify the employer that FMLA is needed?

When the need for leave is foreseeable, the employee must provide at least 30 days notice to Human Resource Management by email at hrdept@ku.edu or by phone at 785-864-4946; otherwise the employee must provide notice as soon as practical. A determination of what is “as soon as practical” is unique to the particular circumstances of the situation. Failure to provide adequate notice of the need for leave can result in the delay or denial of FMLA leave.

What if both spouses are employed by the same employer, do we both get twelve weeks of FMLA?

Yes, spouses employed by the same employer (KU) are entitled to 12 weeks for the birth/placement (through adoption or foster care) and the care of such of such child within 12 months of the birth or placement, to care for an employee’s family member who has a serious health condition, or in the event that both spouses has a personal qualifying serious health condition. Both spouses also qualify for 26 weeks of Military Caregiver Leave in the event a qualifying event is approved.

How is FMLA requested by an employee or how is HRM notified of medical or military absence?

  • Employee: The employee should notify HRM (30 days in advance if possible) by email at hrdept@ku.edu or by phone at 785-864-4946 of the need for leave and complete the FMLA forms provided.
  • Department: The personnel related staff member (PRS) or supervisor should notify HRM immediately by email at hrdept@ku.edu or by phone at 785-864-4946 if an employee is out of the office for three or more full consecutive days for medical reasons that may qualify for FMLA or in the event of military related leave. In addition, if the employee has been approved for medical leave through his/her Dean and Chairperson, the department should provide HRM a copy of the approval letter by email at hrdept@ku.edu or by fax at 785-864-5790 as soon as possible.

When must the employee return the required FMLA certification form?

After completing the necessary form, the employee should return the form and any required documentation within 15 calendar days of the employee's first day of absence by email to hrdept@ku.edu or by fax to 785-864-5790. Failure to return a completed form in the timeframe provided may cause delay or denial of FMLA coverage.

How is the employee notified about FMLA approval?

Within five business days of receiving an employee's completed documentation, HRM will review the materials provided and determine if the condition qualifies the employee for coverage under FMLA. The employee will receive a letter from HRM explaining the outcome of the review. A copy of the FMLA letter will also be sent to the employee's departmental PRS, or SSC contact, and the employee's supervisor.

Once I am approved how do I notify my supervisor that I need time away from work for FMLA leave?

The employee must provide their supervisor as much notice as possible and sufficient information regarding their FMLA approved absence.  The employee must explicitly state the absence is due to their FMLA designated condition.  If the employee has been approved for FMLA on an intermittent basis, the employee must follow established departmental leave reporting procedures.  HRM will send a copy of the FMLA designation letter to the employee's departmental PRS, or SSC contact, and the employee's supervisor.  The employee must request the FMLA absence in the HR/Pay system based on the approved FMLA time period.

Is time off for workers’ compensation FMLA?

If the reason for the absence qualifies, and the employee is eligible for the FMLA, yes. However, the employee must receive notice from HRM that the leave will be counted as FMLA.

Can Shared Leave be part of FMLA?

Yes, as long as the reason for the absence is due to a qualifying serious illness or injury under FMLA. Requests for shared leave must be made to HRM for review and approval and should be submitted in conjunction with the applicable FMLA form. Please visit Shared Leave for more information.

Will my time off on FMLA be paid leave?

It depends. Employees with accrued leave balances are required to use all existing forms of leave prior to being placed on a leave without pay status while on FMLA.

How is FMLA tracked if I am exempt (not eligible for overtime)?

As with non-exempt employees, FMLA is tracked in 15 minute increments.

What if additional leave is required after the employee exhausted all FMLA leave?

Leave beyond the FMLA entitlement (i.e., Shared Leave and Leave without Pay), is possible for approved circumstances. Requests must be made in advance and prior to the expiration of the FMLA period to HRM.  If employees believe they have a medical condition that is preventing them from performing the essential functions of their position, they should contact the Office of Accessibility and ADA Education at 785-864-4946.

While on FMLA will I have to pay for my entire health insurance premium if a portion of the leave time is unpaid?

No. While on FMLA designated leave, the employer’s portion of the employee’s health insurance premiums will continue to be paid by the employer regardless of whether the employee is on paid or unpaid leave. The employee only has to pay his/her portion during this time. Once the FMLA period is over, and it is approved by HRM that the employee continues in a leave without pay status, he/she will be billed for both the employee’s portion of health insurance premiums and the employer’s share of health insurance premiums.

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