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Family Medical Leave (FMLA)

What is the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)?

The FMLA entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage and under the same terms and conditions, as if the employee had not taken leave. Eligible employees are entitled to:

  • Twelve work weeks of leave in a 12-month period for:
  • The birth of a child and to care for the newborn child within one year of birth;
  • The placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care and to care for the newly placed child within one year of placement;
  • To care for the employee’s spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition;
  • An employees own serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job;
  • Any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a covered military member on “covered active duty;” or
  • Twenty-six workweeks of leave during a single 12-month period to care for a covered service member with a serious injury or illness if the eligible employee is the service member’s spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin (military caregiver leave).


Intermittent or reduced schedule FMLA 

The FMLA permits employees to take leave on an intermittent basis or to work a reduced schedule under certain circumstances. An Intermittent/reduced schedule leave may be taken when medically necessary to care for a seriously ill family member, or because of the employee's own serious health condition. Intermittent time will not be permitted under any other FMLA provision, without prior District approval. 

Am I eligible?

Based on federal requirements, employees are eligible for FMLA if they: 

(1) Have been employed by Puyallup School District for at least one year (12 months); and 
(2) Have worked at least 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months. 

T
he 12-month requirement includes only the time you have been employed with benefits and would not include time as a substitute or hourly outside agency hire.  

The 1250 hours must be actual worked hours. If you have worked extra time sheet hours or overtime hours, all of these hours will be counted towards the 1250 requirement. All unpaid time off, non-work days and/or sick leave taken, may not count towards the 1250 hours. If you are less than full time at the time of your request, you likely do not meet the hourly requirement for FMLA. 

Method of administering FMLA

The District uses the "rolling" calendar method to determine FMLA eligibility. This is a 12 month period measured backward from the date an employee has used any FMLA leave or work hours. Under the ‘‘rolling’’ 12-month period, each time an employee takes FMLA leave, the remaining leave entitlement would be the balance of the 12 weeks, which has not been used during the immediately preceding 12 months.


"Key" Employee Exception and Education provisions

Under limited circumstances where restoration to employment will cause "substantial and grievous economic injury" to its operations, the District may refuse to reinstate certain highly-paid, salaried "key" employees. In order to do so, the District must notify the employee in writing of his/her status as a "key" employee (as defined by FMLA), the reasons for denying job restoration, and provide the employee a reasonable opportunity to return to work after so notifying the employee. The District reserves the right to require an approved FMLA leave to be taken in blocks of time, when the leave is needed intermittently or when leave is required near the end of a school term (semester).

Other times FMLA may apply

The District determines when to label a leave as “FMLAbased on the facts of each individual situation. When we know facts that indicate your leave might be covered under FMLA, including and up to the presence of a doctor's note and/or notification from an employee or supervisor of hospitalization, surgery, injury or any other medical condition that prohibits you from work, we are required to inform you of your rights under this law. All employees are responsible for providing enough information, so that the District can make an FMLA determination.

What FMLA is not

FMLA is a designation of time off work, while you recover from a serious health condition. It is not an entitlement to pay or an accrued type of leave. If your leave needs meet the FMLA criteria, it will be designated as FMLA, even if you are using accrued sick or other paid leave. FMLA is also not a "blanket" doctor's note for absences that are unrelated to the documented serious health condition. You may be required to provide separate doctor's notes, for unrelated illnesses that result in absences from work. 

Maintenance of Medical Benefits while on FMLA  

A covered employer is required to maintain group health insurance coverage, including family coverage, for an employee on FMLA leave on the same terms as if the employee continued to work.

Where appropriate, arrangements will need to be made for employees taking unpaid FMLA leave to pay their share of medical benefit premiums. The District will continue the employer payment of all eligible medical benefits during the FMLA time. If an employee arrives in an unpaid status, while on an approved FMLA leave, it is the responsibility of the employee to contact the Benefits Office with their intent to continue coverage. The District's obligation to pay the employer portion of medical benefits stop, if the employee's premium payment is more than 30 days late and the employer has given the employee written notice at least 15 days in advance, advising that coverage will cease if payment is not received. All employees who arrive in an unpaid status will be notified of their rights under COBRA or self-pay continuation.

Other Benefits

Certain types of earned benefits, such as seniority or paid leave, need not continue to accrue during periods of unpaid FMLA leave, provided that such benefits do not accrue for employees on other types of unpaid leave. For other benefits, such as elected life insurance coverage, the District and the employee may make arrangements to continue benefits during periods of unpaid FMLA leave. The District may elect to continue such benefits to ensure that the employee will be eligible to be restored to the same benefits upon returning to work.

In addition to the maintenance of District benefits, employees who are out due to a disability for more than 60 days, should request information regarding short term disability and long term disability. These benefits both have a claim process that can take up to 6 weeks to process. The District's short term disability (optional benefit) covers the first 90 days of a documented disability. The long term disability (mandatory benefit) begins on the 91st day. Please contact the Benefits Office with your inquiry regarding your eligibility for these benefits and required claim process.

Job Restoration

Upon return from FMLA leave, an employee must be restored to his or her original job, or to an "equivalent" job, which means virtually identical to the original job in terms of pay, benefits, and other employment terms and conditions. In addition, an employee's use of FMLA leave cannot result in the loss of any employment benefit that the employee earned or was entitled to before using (but not necessarily during) FMLA leave.

Additional information regarding the Family Medical Leave:

Compliance Assistance: Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
Links to various sources of information about FMLA.

Fact Sheet on FMLA
Covers the major requirements of FMLA and updates to the FMLA regulations.

FMLA Employee Guide
Summarizes FMLA provisions and regulations and provides answers to the most frequently asked questions.