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FAMILY MEDICAL LEAVE ACT (FMLA)


The Family Medical and Leave Act

The federally mandated Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) took effect on August 5, 1993. What does it mean to you as an employee of UCAR? UCAR is pleased to report that its current leave policies exceed the requirements of the FMLA. The only change incorporated to comply with the FMLA allows staff to continue with health insurance coverage at their usual premium cost as though they were not on leave. The following is a general overview of the FMLA and a comparison between the FMLA and UCAR policy. If you have questions regarding the FMLA, please contact Cyd Perrone, ext. 8710.

Click here to view the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Employee Rights and Responsibilities poster.

FMLA Purpose and Provisions

Eligible employees of a covered employer have the right to take unpaid leave, or paid leave if it has been earned, for a period of up to 12 work weeks in any 12 months because of:

  • The birth of a child
  • The placement of a child for adoption or foster care
  • The employee needing to care for a family member with a serious health condition
  • The employee’s own serious health condition making him or her unable to do his or her job
  • Qualifying military exigency

Additionally, eligible employees have the right to take unpaid leave for a period of up to 26 work weeks to care for a covered service member who is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy for a serious injury or illness sustained in or aggravated by service in the line of duty while on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces.

What Does It Mean To UCAR Employees?

Health Coverage

FMLA: Leave does not have to be paid, but the employer must maintain health coverage and continue to pay its customary share of the premium as though the employee were not on leave. If the employee does not return following the leave, the employer can recover any premiums it paid in the meantime. The restoration-of-benefits provision also requires that benefits be reinstated without any restrictions-even if the employee allowed coverage to lapse during the leave.

UCAR: UCAR will continue to pay its customary share of the health insurance premium as though the employee were not on leave. Staff are required to reimburse UCAR during the period of unpaid leave for their share of premiums.

Return to Work

FMLA: Employees who take unpaid family leave are, under the FMLA, generally guaranteed to be restored to the same or an equivalent position and benefits when the leave ends, with no loss of pay, benefits accrued prior to the leave, or other terms and conditions of employment. However, the law does not require benefit of seniority accruals for employees while on leave.

UCAR: An employee will be reinstated to his or her former position upon completion of a 12-week FMLA leave period provided that his or her position has not been eliminated in a reduction in staff.

General Administration of the Act

FMLA: The employer can require employees to use paid leave, such as unused vacation, before they begin unpaid leave, or employees can elect to do so. The employer can require that leave taken for the childbirth or adoptions/foster care reasons be taken all at one time. The employer must allow leave for a family member’s or the employee’s serious illness to be taken intermittently or by a reduced time schedule if medically necessary.

UCAR: Employees may choose to use PTO, accrued sick leave, accrued vacation or unpaid leave, whichever is appropriate, in any combination of days required. Leave taken for childbirth or adoption/foster care is to be taken all at one time.

Advance Notification

FMLA: The employee must provide notice sufficient to make the employer aware 30 days in advance before FMLA leave is to begin, if the need for the leave is foreseeable based on an expected birth, placement for adoption or foster care, or planned medical treatment for a serious health condition of the employee or of a family member.

UCAR: Notice should be given 30 days in advance of the use of family or medical leave if at all possible. If the need for FMLA leave is not foreseeable, contact UCAR as soon as practicable.

Certification of Leave

FMLA: In the case of medical-related or military-caregiver FMLA leaves, a health certification issued by a medical care provider can be requested at the time the employee requests leave; soon after the leave is requested; or, in the case of unforeseen leave, soon after the leave commences.

UCAR: Per UCAR’s current leave policy, a doctor’s statement is required at 15 days of absence in the case of an employee’s medical-related leave. If the leave is not a personal medical-related leave (for instance, adoption of a baby or caring for an ill family member), documentation to support the request will be required 30 days in advance or as soon as practicable.

March 2013

 
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