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Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The federally mandated Family and Medical Leave Act provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year and requires that group health benefits are allowed to be maintained during the leave. The purpose of the FMLA is to assist employees in balancing work life and family matters by providing leave for special health or family-related needs.

The information in this section of the toolkit will provide you with a broad overview of the following FMLA topics. This information is not intended to be all-inclusive but rather to serve as guidance. The exceptions and unique situations regarding FMLA benefits are too numerous and complex to address in the Manager’s Toolkit. If you have an employee who is absent from work for five or more days or is requesting leave under the FMLA, please consult with a Human Resource Services Benefits Specialist at 426-1616.

  • Eligibility criteria
  • How much time can an employee take and for what reasons?
  • Definition of a “serious health condition”
  • Use of paid leave
  • Types of FMLA leave
  • How to request FMLA
  • How to code FMLA leave on timesheets
  • Employee rights

Employee Eligibility

An employee must meet the following criteria to be eligible for FMLA leave:

  1. The employee must have been employed with Boise State University or the State of Idaho for at least twelve months. The twelve months do not have to be continuous employment nor exclusively with Boise State University. Service at another State of Idaho agency is counted toward the eligibility requirement. This includes part-time and temporary employees. If an employee has a break in service of more than seven (7) years, time worked prior to rehire/reinstatement following that break in service does not count towards the twelve-month eligibility requirement (unless the break in service was due to the employee’s National Guard or Reserve military service obligations).
  2. The employee must have worked at least 1,250 hours during the twelve-month period immediately preceding the date the leave begins. The 1,250 hours must be hours actually worked and do not include paid vacation or sick time nor periods of unpaid leave where the employer continued to provide other benefits (e.g. a group health plan or worker’s compensation).

How Much Time Can an Employee Take and for What Reasons?

Employees can take FMLA leave for the following reasons:

  1. Birth of a child – Eligible employees (male or female) may take up to twelve weeks (480 hours for full time employment or the standard hours per week times 12 weeks for part time) of unpaid, job-protected leave to care for or assist in the care of a newborn as long as they are the parents or legal guardians of the child. An expectant mother may take FMLA leave if her pregnancy makes her unable to work before the birth of the child. If both parents work for the university, the combined total FMLA leave available to the parents for a birth or adoption is twelve weeks.
  1. Adoption of a child or placement of a child in foster care – Eligible employees may take up to twelve weeks (480 hours for full employment time or the standard hours per week times 12 weeks for part time) of unpaid, job-protected leave for events related to the placement of a son or daughter with the employee for adoption or foster care. If both parents work for the university, the combined total FMLA leave available to the parents for a birth or adoption is twelve weeks. This includes, but is not limited to, pre-placement counseling sessions, court appearances, attorney consultations, and care for the adopted foster child. However, an employee’s right to take leave for birth and care of a newborn, or for placement of a child for adoption or foster care, must conclude within twelve months of the birth or placement.
  2. Care for a qualifying family member with a serious health condition – Eligible employees may take up to twelve weeks (480 hours for full time employment or the standard hours per week times 12 weeks for part time) of unpaid, job-protected leave to care for a family member with a serious health condition. Family members who qualify are limited to the employee’s spouse, the employee’s children under 18 years of age, the employee’s children incapable of self-care due to a mental or physical disability regardless of age, and the employee’s parents with a serious health condition. Care for siblings or in-laws with a serious health condition does not qualify under this provision of FMLA. The employee may be required to submit a doctor’s letter stating the need for support or care for the family member’s illness, as well as its expected duration.
  3. An employee’s serious health condition – Eligible employees may take up to twelve weeks (480 hours for full time employment or the standard hours per week times 12 weeks for part time ) of unpaid, job-protected leave for their qualifying serious health condition.
  4. Attend to a Qualifying Exigency (QE) – Eligible employees may take up to twelve weeks (480 hours for full time employment or the standard hours per week times 12 weeks for part time) of unpaid, job-protected leave to attend to a QE arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, parent, son, or daughter is a service member who is “on active duty (or notified of an impending call or order to active duty) in support of a contingency operation.” QE leave is available to family members of active duty Regular Armed Forces, National Guard, and Reserve service members. Activities considered to be a QE may include:
  • Short-notice deployment
  • Military events and related activities (in advance of and during deployment)
  • Childcare and school activities
  • Financial and legal arrangements
  • Counseling
  • Rest and recuperation
  • Post deployment activities, and
  • Additional activities agreed upon between the employer and the employee

Eligibility verification regarding the QE, including: DOL form WH-384; the service member’s orders; and confirmation from third parties may be required.

  1. Care for a qualifying family member who incurred a serious injury or illness in the line of duty while on active duty in the Armed Forces – Full-time and part-time employees are allowed up to 26 weeks (1,040 hours) of unpaid, job-protected leave during a single 12-month period at any time during the five years preceding the date of treatment, recuperation, or therapy. Family members who qualify are limited to covered service member’s spouse, parent, child, or next of kin. Covered service members include current members of the Armed Forces (Including members of the National Guard or Reserves) or veterans (who were members during the five years preceding their injury or illness); who are undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy; are otherwise in outpatient status, or are otherwise on the temporary disability retired list for a serious injury or illness. If an employee’s leave qualifies as both military FMLA and non-military FMLA leave, FMLA military leave will be designated first. Total FMLA leave allowed during the 12-month period is 26 weeks (1,040 hours). For example: an employee may not, in the same 12-month period, take 26 weeks of military FMLA leave for this circumstance and also take six weeks of FMLA leave due to circumstances 1-5 described above.)

What Constitutes a Serious Health Condition?

A “serious health condition” means an illness, injury, or impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves one of the following:

  1. Hospital Care
  2. Incapacity Plus Treatment
  3. Pregnancy
  4. Chronic Conditions Requiring Treatments
  5. Permanent/Long-term Conditions Requiring Supervision
  6. Multiple Treatments

As a manager, you should not try to determine whether or not the employee has a serious health condition. The employee is not required to disclose the specifics of their health condition to their manager that might be considered protected health information under HIPAA privacy regulations.

Use of Paid Leave

An employee may use vacation, sick or other paid leave they are entitled to concurrent with their FMLA leave. A bona fide illness must exist to use sick leave concurrently with FMLA leave. For calculating the 12-month period, Boise State University uses a rolling 12-month period measured backward from the date an employee requests any leave under this policy. Each time an employee takes leave, the amount of leave the employee has taken in the past 12 months will be computed and subtracted from the available 12 weeks of leave. The balance remaining is the amount the employee is entitled to take at that time.

Types of FMLA Leave

There are two types of FMLA leave: continuous and intermittent/reduced work schedule.

  1. Continuous FMLA Leave – An employee who is off work for a single period of time and for a single qualifying reason is on continuous FMLA leave.
  2. Intermittent FMLA Leave – Intermittent FMLA leave (or a reduced work schedule) is leave taken in separate blocks of time, interspersed with periods of work, due to a single qualifying reason. For example, an employee may request intermittent FMLA leave or a reduced work schedule for: transporting a family member to a medical care facility, filling in for primary caregivers, making arrangements for changes in care, periodic medical treatments, or episodic chronic illnesses/treatment (e.g. chemotherapy treatment). Employees requesting intermittent leave or reduced work hours should schedule their leave so that the department’s operations are disrupted as little as possible. Employees should, when possible, submit a schedule disclosing their planned leave. Anticipated leave which was not actually taken will not be counted against the employee’s FMLA hours. In cases where intermittent or reduced work schedule FMLA leave is for birth, adoption, or foster care, use of intermittent FMLA leave cannot exceed a period of six (6) months regardless of the number of FMLA hours used.

Requesting FMLA

  • Advance Notification Required – An employee who knows in advance that he/she will take FMLA leave must provide 30-days notice before taking the leave. The notice must include the anticipated start date of the FMLA leave and the expected duration of the leave. Either the employee or the supervisor can call HRS at 426-1616 to complete the FMLA paperwork. In situations where advance notice is not possible, the employee must notify their supervisor as soon as feasible.
  • What to do When Advance Notice is Impossible – If the employee is unable to provide notice because of unforeseen circumstances, an employee’s friend or family member, acting on the employee’s behalf, can notify the employer of the employee’s need to take FMLA leave. As soon as notice is given, as the employee’s supervisor, you must immediately complete the FMLA Leave Request Form available on the HRS Benefits web page: https://hrs.boisestate.edu/benefits/family-and-medical-leave/, or by calling Human Resource Services at 426-1616. Or, you can give the form directly to the employee to complete.

Coding FMLA on Timesheets

Employees should not code FMLA leave on their timesheet without the approval of the Benefits Department and until the employee’s eligibility for FMLA leave has been verified. Such verification can be either orally or in writing. The Benefits Department will provide guidance regarding specific FMLA time codes within the Time and Labor system when using sick leave, vacation leave, or unpaid leave during an approved absence. If the employee runs out of sick and vacation leave, the remainder of the 12-week period is coded as FMLA-covered leave without pay. An employee who is absent for 30 or more calendar days and who has exhausted their sick leave may be eligible for short-term disability benefits. HRS will coordinate the application process for short-term disability with the employee and the State Office of Group Insurance.

Employees on FMLA leave who are concurrently using available sick or vacation time will accrue sick and vacation hours at the same rate as if they were not on FMLA. However, if an employee goes on unpaid FML, they no longer accrue leave credits.

Employee Rights

  • While on FMLA leave, the employee’s health and dental benefits will continue unchanged and will be maintained at the same level as all other active employees, as long as the employee pays their share of the monthly medical and dental premiums. If the employee is using sick, vacation, or compensatory leave balances to receive a full or partial paycheck while on FMLA leave, the employee’s portion of health and dental insurance premiums will be deducted as usual. The employee may be required to self-pay their insurance premiums in the event they are not paid through Payroll (for example, they are receiving income through short-term disability or worker’s compensation). In the event this occurs, Human Resource Services will provide instructions for these payments. If the employee does not return to work after FMLA leave for reasons beyond their medical condition, the employee may be required to reimburse Boise State University for its share of the premiums paid during the employee’s FMLA absence.
  • An employee’s use of FMLA leave cannot result in the loss of any employment benefits the employee earned or was entitled before using FMLA leave.
  • Use of FMLA leave cannot be counted against the employee for any disciplinary action regarding attendance.
  • Upon return from FMLA leave, employees are entitled to be restored to the position they held prior to the FMLA leave, or to be restored in a substantially equivalent position with substantially equivalent benefits, pay, and other terms and conditions of employment.

Always Consult with Human Resource Services

If you have an employee who needs to request leave under the FMLA, consult with a Human Resource Services Benefits Specialist at 426-1616. The exceptions and unique benefits under FMLA are numerous and complex and as a manager, you should not attempt to determine if the employee is eligible or if their health condition qualifies for FMLA leave. All requests for leave under the FMLA must be reported to Human Resource Services.

FAQ’s

FMLA FAQs

If a faculty member is out and another faculty member is covering their classes, do they need to request leave under the FMLA and utilize sick leave?

Yes. If a faculty member is absent from work on contract work days, they should request leave under the FMLA and report sick leave just as any other employee.

Does my employee need to complete FMLA paperwork if they have enough sick leave to cover their absence?

Yes. Compliance with federal law requires that employees are notified of their rights under the FMLA and that our leave administration conforms with these requirements.

Can I refuse to grant an employee FMLA leave?

No. If the employee is an “eligible” employee who has met FMLA’s notice and certification requirements (and he/she has not exhausted their FMLA leave entitlement for the year), the employee may not be denied FMLA leave.

Can an employee take FMLA leave for visits to a therapist if their doctor prescribes the therapy?

Yes. FMLA permits you to take leave to receive “continuing treatment by a health care provider,” which can include recurring absences for therapy treatments such as those ordered by a doctor for physical therapy after a hospital stay, or for treatment of severe arthritis.

Can time on maternity leave or pregnancy disability leave count as FMLA leave?

Yes. Pregnancy disability leave or maternity leave for the birth of a child would be considered qualifying FMLA leave for a serious health condition and may be counted in the 12 weeks of leave. Sick leave can be used concurrently only during pregnancy complications and/or recovery which is typically six to eight weeks from birth.

Can leave taken due to pregnancy complications count against the 12 weeks of FMLA leave for the birth and care of an employee’s child?

Yes. An eligible employee is entitled to a total of 12 weeks of FMLA leave in a 12-month period. If the employee has to use some of that leave for another reason, including a difficult pregnancy, it may be counted as part of the 12-week FMLA leave entitlement.

Does the law guarantee paid time off?

No. The FMLA only requires unpaid leave. Accrued sick, vacation, or other paid leave is used per their respective policies during the FMLA-covered absences to be paid during the absence.

Whom should I contact if I need time off for myself or a family member?

Human Resource Services encourages employees and anyone requesting leave under FMLA on behalf of an employee to call 426-1616.

Are absences related to Worker’s Compensation injuries covered under the FMLA?

Yes. These absences may be covered, just as any other illness or injury. The FMLA should be requested for lost time injury absences of five or more days.

What family and medical leave reasons qualify?

Under the FMLA, leave can be taken for the following:

  • For the birth and care of an employee’s newborn child;
  • For placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care;
  • To care for an immediate family member (spouse, child, or parent) with a serious health condition;
  • To take medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition; or
  • To attend to a Qualifying Exigency arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, parent, son, or daughter is a service member who is “on active duty (or notified of an impending call or order to active duty) in support of a contingency operation.”
How do I know if I am eligible for family and medical leave?

To qualify for leave under the FMLA, you must have 12 months of service with the State of Idaho (does not have to be consecutive) and you must have worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months preceding the date your leave begins. To determine eligibility, contact a Human Resource Services Benefits Specialist at 426-1616.

Other Resources

Forms:

Policies and Resources:

 

Published
Original: July 24, 2013
Last Update: July 17, 2017