• Family and Medical Leave (FMLA)

    The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) grants eligible Sault School employees the right to take 12 workweeks of job-protected leave over a rolling 12-month period for FMLA- covered medical and family reasons. FMLA leave does not eliminate or reduce other leave types; however, certain leaves must run concurrently with FMLA leave as set forth below.

    The following questions and answers summarize the District's FMLA policy.

    Frequently Asked Questions about FMLA Leave

    What are the eligibility requirements for FMLA leave? Employees may be eligible for FMLA leave if they have been employed by the Sault Schools for at least 12 months, (consecutive or non-consecutive,) and have worked at least 1,250 hours (actual hours worked) during the 12-month period preceding the date their leave commences.

    How much leave are employees eligible for and for what purposes? Employees are eligible for 12 workweeks of FMLA leave over a 12-month period for the following reasons:

    • Because of a serious health condition that makes an employee unable to perform one or more of the essential functions of their job, as certified by their health care provider;
    • For birth of a child;
    • For placement with them of a child for adoption or foster care (including related court appearances, consultations with attorneys, and counseling sessions);
    • To care for a child during the first 12 months following birth or placement;
    • If an employee is needed to care for a spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition, as certified by the family member's health care provider.

    Note that the FMLA definition of “spouse” does not include same-sex domestic partners.

    Military Family Leave Entitlements

    Eligible employees with a spouse, son, daughter, or parent on active duty or call to active duty status in the National Guard or Reserves in support of a contingency operation may use their 12-week leave entitlement to address certain qualifying exigencies. Qualifying exigencies may include attending certain military events, arranging for alternative childcare, addressing certain financial and legal arrangements, attending certain counseling sessions, and attending post-deployment reintegration briefings.   FMLA also includes a special leave entitlement that permits eligible employees to take up to 26 weeks of leave to care for a covered service member during a single 12-month period.
     
    How is the 12-month period determined? The 12-month period will be a rolling 12-month period measured backward from the date FMLA leave commences.

    Can an employee take FMLA leave on an intermittent or reduced basis? Yes. FMLA leave may be taken on an intermittent or reduced-schedule basis. Intermittent leave is FMLA leave taken in separate blocks of time due to a single qualifying reason. Reduced-schedule leave is leave that reduces your usual number of working hours per day or week. Intermittent and reduced-schedule leave may be taken for only certain FMLA-qualifying reasons.

    What notice do employees have to give their department when they need FMLA leave? Employees should, if possible, request FMLA leave in writing to the district Personnel Office. However, FMLA leave will not be denied if an employee gives the supervisor verbal notice of the need for FMLA leave and the timing and duration of the leave.

    When planning medical treatment, an employee must consult with his or her supervisor and make a reasonable effort to schedule the leave so as not to disrupt the district's operations.

    If the FMLA leave is foreseeable, the employee must give his or her supervisor at least 30 days advance notice of the need for leave.

    If the FMLA leave is not foreseeable, the employee or his or her representative must give notice of the need for leave to a supervisor as soon as practicable (i.e., ordinarily within two business days after the need for leave becomes known).

    If an employee takes leave for an FMLA reason without notifying a supervisor, the leave has not been designated by the district as FMLA leave, and you want FMLA leave, the employee must notify his or her supervisor within two business days after returning to work that the leave was taken for an FMLA reason. Absent such notice, an employee will not be entitled to the protections of the FMLA.

    Can an employee maintain group health insurance during FMLA leave? Yes. The district will continue to pay its share of the cost of an employee's group health insurance during FMLA leave, unless the employee notifies the district in writing to cancel coverage. If an employee uses paid leave during FMLA leave, the employee's share of the premium will be deducted from his or her pay in accordance with normal practice. If the FMLA leave is unpaid, the employee must pay his or her share of the premium. If an employee fails to pay his or her share of the premium, the district reserves the right to cancel coverage, as permitted by law.

    What are the medical certification requirements for FMLA leave? If FMLA leave is due to an employee’s serious health condition or a serious health condition of his or her spouse, child, or parent, then the employee must furnish medical certification of the serious health condition. The certification must be completed and signed by the individual’s principal health care provider. The certification must be returned to Human Resource Services within 15 calendar days of the date that the certification is delivered to the employee, unless the employee is unable to do so despite his or her good faith efforts. A health care provider representing the district may contact the health care provider, with the employee’s permission, to clarify and authenticate the certification.

    How is FMLA leave coordinated with other district leaves of absence? The use of other district leaves of absence, whether paid or unpaid, during FMLA-qualifying leave will decrease, in whole or in part, an employee's 12-work week FMLA leave entitlement as follows:

    • Worker's Compensation Leave. If the employee takes worker's compensation leave for an FMLA-qualifying reason, the employee's FMLA leave and worker's compensation leave will run concurrently.
    • Paid Sick Leave. If an employee's FMLA leave is due to his or her own serious health condition or a family member's serious health condition and he or she has accrued, unused paid sick leave, the employee must use the paid sick leave during the FMLA leave.
    • Paid Vacation Leave. Upon exhausting all paid sick leave, an employee has the right to use accrued, paid vacation during an FMLA-qualifying leave. The employee’s FMLA leave and vacation leave will run concurrently.
    • Unpaid Personal Leave. If an employee takes unpaid personal leave for an FMLA-qualifying reason, the FMLA leave and personal leave will run concurrently.
    • Personal Business Days.  Upon exhausting all paid sick leave, a staff member has the right to use paid personal business days during FMLA leave. The employee’s FMLA leave and paid personal business days will run concurrently.

    How does an employee know whether his or her leave is considered FMLA leave? In all circumstances, it is the district’s responsibility to designate leave as FMLA leave and to give an employee timely notice of the designation. Absent extenuating circumstances, the district will, at a minimum, give an employee verbal notice of the designation within two business days of the date the employee provided information to the district sufficient to enable it to determine that the leave is being taken for an FMLA-qualifying reason. The District will confirm verbal notice with written notice to an employee as soon as feasible, but no later than the first payday following the verbal notice (unless the payday is less than one week after the verbal notice, in which case the verbal notice must be no later than the subsequent payday).

    What are an employee's reinstatement rights upon returning from FMLA leave? Generally, an employee will be reinstated to the same position held when FMLA leave began or to a position with equivalent pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment, if such a position is available and the employee can perform the essential functions of the position. However, if an employee exceeds the FMLA leave and remains off work under a non-FMLA leave, the employee will not be entitled to reinstatement to the same or an equivalent position under the FMLA; rather, the right to reinstatement will be controlled by the non-FMLA leave policy.

    What are an employee's responsibilities upon returning to work from FMLA leave? If FMLA leave is due to an employee’s serious health condition, the employee must present a return-to-work statement to his or her department upon returning to work. The statement must specify that the employee is able to work and any physical or other restrictions on his or her ability to work. Reinstatement may be delayed until an employee submits the statement.

    Additional Important Provisions Relating to FMLA Leave

    FMLA leave will not be used as a negative factor in employment actions, such as hiring, promotions, disciplinary actions, or under attendance policies.

    All medical information relating to FMLA leaves, whether verbal or written, will be kept confidential to the maximum extent possible. All medical documents including, but not limited to, medical certifications must be maintained in confidential, secure files separate from personnel files in Human Resource Services.