Family and Medical Leave
Handbook of Operating Procedures 5-4310
Family and Medical Leave
The University of Texas at Austin
Executive Sponsor: Vice President for University Operations
November 1, 2001
- Policy Statement
The University of Texas at Austin provides up to twelve (12) weeks of unpaid family and medical leave during a period of twelve (12) months in accordance with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993. Family and medical leave is unpaid leave that provides employees with the right to continue in premium sharing while on leave; and in general, to return to the same position or an equivalent position at the conclusion of the leave.
Employees who have been employed by the state of Texas for a total of at least twelve (12) months, and have worked at least 1,250 hours during the twelve-month period prior to the commencement of the requested leave, are covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act.
- Qualified Purposes
Family and medical leave is available to eligible employees for the following reasons:
- The employee's serious health condition,
- The birth and care of the employee's child,
- The placement of a child for adoption or foster care with the employee, or
- The care of the employee's spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition.
Spouse means a husband or wife as defined or recognized under state law for purposes of marriage in the state where the employee resides, including common law marriage in states where it is recognized.
Parent means a biological parent or an individual who stands or stood in loco parentis to an employee when the employee was a son or daughter as defined below. This term does not include an employee's parent-in-law.
Son or daughter means a biological, adopted, or foster child, a step-child, a legal ward, or a child of a person standing in loco parentis, who is either under age 18, or age 18 or older and "incapable of self-care because of a mental or physical disability."
Serious health condition means an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves inpatient care in a hospital, hospice, or residential medical care facility; or continuing treatment by a health care provider.
- Applicable Conditions
The following conditions apply to family and medical leave use:
- Duration. Eligible employees are entitled to take up to twelve (12) weeks of family and medical leave during a period of twelve (12) months. The twelve-week period begins on the date that the employee's family and medical leave begins.
- Intermittent and Reduced Schedule Leave. Employees may request to take family and medical leave on an intermittent or reduced schedule basis when medically necessary for a serious health condition. A qualified employee who requests intermittent or reduced schedule leave may be transferred by the University to a different position with equivalent pay and benefits if the transfer better accommodates the needs of the department during recurring periods of employee absence or reduced hours.
Intermittent leave is defined as leave taken in separate blocks of time to cover a single illness or injury.
Reduced schedule leave is defined as a leave schedule that reduces the number of hours an employee usually works in a day or a week. An example of reduced schedule leave would be an employee working part of a day while recovering from a serious health condition.
- Birth of a Child or a Newly Placed Child. An employee is entitled up to twelve (12) weeks of leave for the birth or placement of a child. The twelve (12) weeks must be taken within twelve (12) months of the birth or placement of the child.
Employees not eligible for family and medical leave may be eligible to use parental leave as provided by state law. (See Parental Leave Policy.)
- Concurrent Use of Paid Leave
Employees without available paid annual leave, floating holiday or sick leave will not be paid while on family and medical leave. Employees receiving workers' compensation benefits are not required to use accrued annual leave, floating holiday, and sick leave concurrent with their family and medical leave. Employees with available annual leave, floating holiday, and sick leave are required to utilize all accumulated annual leave, floating holiday, and sick leave, if applicable, when taking leave under the Act.
- Employee Notification Requirements
- Advance Notice. Employees shall give at least thirty (30) calendar days of advance notice, when foreseeable, to their supervisor of the need to take family and medical leave.
- Advance Notice Not Possible. When advance notice is not possible, notice by the employee should be provided as soon as practicable but within two (2) business days after the employee learns of the need for the leave. Such notice should contain the reason for the leave and its anticipated timing and duration.
- Written/Verbal Notice. Written notice of the need for family and medical leave is recommended when possible; however, employees may provide verbal notice of the need for the leave.
- Processing the Leave Request
- Employee. When foreseeable, the employee shall give advance notice to the supervisor of the need to take family and medical leave.
- Supervisor. When an employee has requested family and medical leave, or the supervisor recognizes the possible application of family and medical leave, the supervisor shall provide written notice to Human Resources within two (2) business days, absent extenuating circumstances. The leave is designated a provisional family and medical leave status pending eligibility from Human Resources. The supervisor shall contact Human Resources with any questions.
- Human Resources. Upon receipt of notification, Human Resources shall provide the employee a Certification of Health Care Provider form.
- Certification of a Serious Health Condition
- Certification of Health Care Provider. An employee requesting family and medical leave must submit the Certification of Health Care Provider form to Human Resources within fifteen (15) calendar days of receipt of the form, absent extenuating circumstances.
Health care provider includes a doctor of medicine or osteopathy, dentist, podiatrist, clinical psychologist, optometrist, nurse practitioner, nurse-midwife, or a clinical social worker that is authorized to practice in the state of Texas or in the state the person resides for persons who reside outside the state of Texas.
- Certification Elements. Certification must state the date of the onset of the serious condition, its probable duration, and appropriate medical facts. If the leave is because of the employee's condition, the certification must also state that the employee is unable to perform the functions of his or her position. When leave is taken to care for a family member, the certification must state that the employee is required to provide care for the family member and estimate the amount of time the employee will need. For an intermittent leave, the dates of treatment and duration must be specified.
- Certification Evaluation. Human Resources shall evaluate the completed form and will take one of the following actions:
- If Human Resources determines the family and medical leave is appropriate, it shall remove the provisional status and notify the employee and the department.
- If the Certification is incomplete, Human Resources shall request the employee to provide additional information.
- If Human Resources has reason to doubt the validity of the certification, it will require the employee to obtain certification from a second health care provider designated or approved by the University. In the event that the second certification differs from that of the first health care provider, the certification of a third provider, jointly approved by the University and the employee, may be required. The certification of the third provider shall be considered final and binding on the University and the employee. Second and third opinions shall be obtained at the University's expense.
- If Human Resources determines the family and medical leave is NOT appropriate, it shall remove the provisional status and notify the employee and the department. Any premium sharing paid by the University during the employee's provisional leave without pay period shall be reimbursed by the employee.
- Leave Extensions. An employee who has not utilized the full 12 weeks of leave time and requests additional family and medical leave may be required to obtain another certification.
- Return to Work Certification. An employee who has been on family and medical leave for his or her own serious health condition and wishes to return to work will be required to present medical certification of his or her ability to return to work.
- Confidentiality of Medical Records
Any document containing medical information about an employee is considered a medical record and is regarded as confidential. Human Resources will maintain medical records in a file separate from all other employee records.
- Insurance Benefits
- Employer Premium Sharing. The University will continue to contribute its share of premiums for an employee's health insurance during any family and medical leave taken by the employee for a period of up to twelve (12) weeks of work.
- Employee Insurance Premiums. The employee is responsible for paying their share of the insurance premiums in the same amount as when working or when on leave without pay.
- Nonpayment of Premiums by Employee. If the employee fails to pay the health plan premium by the due date, a thirty-day (30) grace period will be provided. If the employee does not pay all amounts currently due within thirty (30) days of the due date, the University shall cancel the employee's health insurance coverage at the end of the last month for which a complete payment is made.
- Restoration of Coverage Upon Return to Work. If the University discontinues health coverage as a result of the employee's nonpayment of premiums, the employee's group health benefits must be restored to at least the same level and terms as were provided when leave commenced. The returning employee shall not be required to meet any qualification requirements, such as a waiting period or preexisting condition requirements, when the employee has failed to continue his or her health coverage for nonpayment of premiums.
- Failure to return from Family and Medical Leave. If an employee fails to return to work after family and medical leave, and the University has paid for maintaining health coverage, the University, under certain circumstances, is entitled to recover the premiums paid.
- Other Paid Leave and Benefit Accruals
While on family and medical leave, sick leave, annual leave and state service credit will continue to accrue only during that portion of the leave that is covered by paid leave.
- Return to Work
The employee returning from family and medical leave will be reinstated to the same or equivalent position with equivalent pay.
- Employee Rights
Employees who exercise their rights to family and medical leave are entitled to do so without restraint and shall not be subject to discharge or discrimination by the University.
The University will not discriminate against any employee who files charges, institutes a proceeding under or related to the rights provided by Family and Medical Leave Act, or gives information in connection with an inquiry or proceeding regarding that Act.
Employees who believe that they have been subject to retaliation or discrimination as a result of exercising their rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act may bring a complaint to the Director of Equal Opportunity Services.
- Other Leave Options
If an employee is not eligible for family and medical leave, an employee may be entitled to other leave, with or without pay, provided by the University.
- Delegation of Authority
Authority is hereby delegated to the Associate Vice President for Human Resources, or designee, to determine family and medical leave eligibility.
For Assistance: Interpretation of specific requirements of the family and medical leave policy is subject to provisions contained in the full text of the Family and Medical Leave Act. Questions regarding family and medical leave should be directed to Human Resources, Benefit Services Section, or to the website: http://www.utexas.edu/hr/.
Certification of Health Care Provider form website: http://hr.utexas.edu/forms/certification_of_health_care_provider.pdf or http://hr.utexas.edu/forms/certification_of_healthcare_provider_family.pdf.
Previously HOP 7.F.4