3.6.5.2 Family and Medical Leave (FMLA)

adopted: May-1990
last revised: Nov-2011

Employees of Richland Community College are eligible for family and medical leave if they have at least 12 months of service, have worked at least 1,250 hours within the preceding 12-month period, and work at a worksite where there are at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius. The President or the President’s designee must approve all FMLA leaves. For the purposes of this policy, the College will calculate a twelve-month period to commence backward from the date of the qualifying event. Available leave is determined by subtracting the number of weeks of FMLA leave taken during the 12 month “look back” period from the 12-week total allowed.

If eligible, an employee may be able to take up to 12 work weeks of medical leave during a 12-month period for one or more of the following reasons:

  • The birth of a child or to care for a child within the first 12 months after birth;
  • The placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care and to bond with and care for the child (within the first 12 months after placement);
  • To care for the employee’s spouse, child (who is under 18 years of age or incapable of self-care due to a physical or mental disability), or parent (not a parent-in-law)who has a serious health condition;
  • For a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the functions of his/her position; or
  • If the employee experiences a qualifying exigency

that arises out of the fact that a spouse, parent, or child is on (or has been notified of an impending call to) covered active duty in the Armed Forces to a foreign country. Members of the U.S. National Guard and Reserves are on covered active duty when they are under call or order to active duty and are deployed with the Armed Forces to a foreign country.

Military Caregiver Leave: An employee who is the spouse, parent, child, or next of kin of a current member or veteran of a covered service member (including members of the Armed Forces, National Guard, or Reserves, and covered veterans) with a serious illness or injury may be eligible for up to a total of 26 weeks of FMLA leave in a 12-month period to provide care for that individual.

Notice of Leave: If an employee needs to take time off for reasons that the employee believes qualify for FMLA leave, the employee must comply with all applicable absence reporting policies, absent an unusual circumstance.

To request leave, the employee must:

  • Supply sufficient information for Richland Community College to be aware that the FMLA may apply to the leave request, as well as information regarding the anticipated timing and duration of leave;
  • Provide notice of the need for leave at least 30 days in advance or as soon as practicable, but at all times compliant with applicable reporting policies, absent an unusual circumstance;
  • Provide a telephone number where the employee may be reached for further information.
  • Cooperate with all requests for information regarding whether absences are FMLA-qualifying.

Failure to comply with the College’s absence reporting policies or to provide documentation or information requested by the College may result in leave being delayed or denied.

Intermittent Leave: When medically necessary, eligible employees may take FMLA leave intermittently or on a reduced schedule basis for their own serious health condition, the serious health condition of a family member, or for military caregiver leave. Employees are required to cooperate with Richland Community College to arrange reduced work schedules or intermittent leave so as to minimize disruption of college operations, subject to approval by the health care provider. Qualifying exigency leave may be taken intermittently without regard to medical necessity or disruption of college operations.

Leave because of the birth of a healthy child or placement for adoption or foster care of a healthy child (i.e., bonding time) may not be taken intermittently and must be completed within the 12-month period beginning on the date of birth or placement of the child.

Medical and other Certifications: Employees will be required to provide a medical certification if the leave request is:

  • for the employee's own serious health condition,
  • to care for a family member's serious health condition, or
  • military caregiver leave.

Failure to provide the requested certification in a timely manner may result in denial of the leave until it is provided. If an employee refuses to provide a certification, his/her leave request may be denied and the employee may be subject to discipline pursuant to the College’s attendance policies.

Richland Community College, at its expense, may require a medical examination by a health care provider of its own choosing if it has reason to doubt the validity of the medical certification provided by the employee., Richland Community College also may contact the health care provider directly to clarify or authenticate a medical certification, including certifications for military caregiver leave, as provided by applicable law. Second opinions will not be sought in instances of military caregiver leave.

Separate certification may also be required regarding the nature of the family member's military service and/or the existence of a qualifying exigency.

Fitness for Duty Certifications: Because Richland Community College wishes to ensure the well-being of all employees, any employee returning from FMLA leave for his/her own serious health condition will need to provide a Fitness for Duty certification signed by his/her health care provider. An employee who fails to provide a Fitness for Duty certification will be prohibited from returning to work until it is provided. An employee who fails to provide a Fitness for Duty certification may be disciplined or terminated.

Fitness for Duty certifications may be required when an employee returns from intermittent FMLA leave if serious concerns exist regarding the employee's ability to resume his/her duties safely based on the serious health condition for which the employee took such leave.

Maintenance of Benefits: If approved, the College will maintain the employee’s individual insurance coverage (medical, life, AD&D, and LTD) for six months, or through the final date of approved FMLA leave, whichever is later. Thereafter, employees wishing to insure themselves and/or their dependents may continue the coverage by submitting their share of the premium to the College on a monthly basis for transmittal to the insurance company. Health insurance will be provided under the conditions coverage would have been provided if the employee had been continuously and actively employed.

Richland may recover the premium it has paid for maintaining the insurance coverage if the employee does not return to work after the leave has expired, consistent with applicable law. Consistent with College policy regarding all types of leave, employees on FMLA leave will not continue to accrue seniority, paid vacation/sick leave or other benefits during the period covered by the leave. In addition, employees will not be paid for holidays during the leave.

Concurrent Leave: Whenever an employee qualifies for paid leave and unpaid FMLA Leave on the same absence, both shall be utilized concurrently. Employees must use any accumulated sick leave, vacation time, personal or paid time off to the extent available during FMLA leave. Paid time off may also be applied to waiting days under the College’s Worker’s Compensation program. Absences in excess of these accumulated days will be treated as FMLA leave without pay.

Married Couples Who Work for Richland Community College: If an employee and his/her spouse both work for Richland Community College, they may be limited to a combined total of 12 weeks of FMLA leave in a 12-month period if the leave is taken for: The birth, adoption, or foster placement of a child;

  • To care for and bond with such child who does not suffer from a serious health condition;
  • To care for a parent with a serious health condition; or
  • A combination of the above.
  • For military caregiver leave, the employee and employee spouse may be limited to a combined total of 26 weeks of leave in a 12-month period, including the types of leave listed above in this paragraph.

Return from Leave: Upon return from leave, the employee will be restored to his/her original or an equivalent position with equivalent pay and benefits. An employee who fails to return at the end of FMLA leave will in most cases be considered to have voluntarily resigned his/her position with Richland Community College. Employees who do not return to work at the end of their leave may be terminated.

State and Local Laws: When state and local laws offer more protection or benefits, the protection or benefits provided by those laws will apply.