Hobart and William Smith Colleges understands the importance of family issues to its workforce. We also recognize that many of our employees face conflicting demands of family obligations and work. Because employees may find it necessary to take leave from their jobs for a temporary period to address certain family responsibility or their own serious health condition and in order to comply with the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA), the Colleges establish the following parental, family, and medical leave policy. The Colleges intend this policy to provide its faculty and staff (administrative and union/non-union hourly employees) with family and medical leave benefits consistent with the final regulations issued by the United States Department of Labor, effective April 6, 1995. The Colleges intend this policy to summarize both employer and employee rights and responsibilities under the FMLA. Faculty and staff with specific questions regarding this policy should contact the Office of Human Resources.
Eligibility Requirements: Faculty and staff must meet the following criteria to qualify for FMLA leave:
Reasons for Leave: The FMLA entitles an employee to unpaid leave for any of the following reasons (see the definition of terms - italicized words or phrases - in the Definitions section):
Request for Leave: When the need for leave is foreseeable, the faculty or staff member must provide 30 days written notice to the Office of Human Resources. If that faculty or staff member fails to give notice of foreseeable leave, the Colleges may deny leave until 30 days from the day on which the Colleges receives notice.
If the need for leave is not foreseeable, the faculty or staff member must provide the Colleges with as much notice as practical (usually within one or two working days of learning of the need for leave).
When scheduling medical treatment, faculty and staff must consult with the Colleges and make a reasonable effort to schedule leave in a manner that does not unduly disrupt the Colleges' operations.
The Colleges may require periodic updates during the leave period regarding an employee's status and intent to return to work. Where a foreseeable change in circumstances occurs during the leave period, and the change affects the amount of leave which an employee will require, the employee must provide the Colleges with reasonable notice of the change.
Medical Certification: The Colleges may require a faculty or staff member to support a request for leave due to the employee's serious health condition by submitting a medical certification by their health care provider.
In addition, the Colleges may also require a medical certification when faculty or staff member requests leave to care for a spouse, son, daughter or parent with a serious health condition. If the Colleges question the adequacy of the medical certification provided by the employee, the Colleges may require the employee to obtain a second and/or third medical certification. The Colleges will bear the expenses associated with additional medical certifications. Conflicts among medical certifications will be resolved according to the procedures detailed in the final regulations issued by the United States Department of Labor.
When possible, a faculty or staff member must submit a required medical certification before his /her leave commences. If not possible or if the employee's leave has already commenced, the employee must submit a required medical certification within 15 calendar days of the Colleges' request.
All employees must submit any required medical certification on a Medical Certification Form provided by the Colleges. Employees may obtain these forms from the Office of Human Resources.
When returning from leave due to the employee's serious health condition, the Colleges may require an employee to submit a "fitness-for-duty" medical certification pursuant to a uniform policy or practice applied to all similarly-situated employees.
Duration of Leave: The FMLA entitles an employee to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period for qualifying reasons.
A husband and wife who both work for the Colleges may only take a combined 12 weeks of leave for the birth of a son or daughter, or placement with the husband and wife of a son or daughter for adoption or foster care.
The Colleges have adopted a "rolling" 12-month period for purposes of determining the number of weeks of leave to which a faculty or staff member is entitled. Under this method, the Colleges look at the 12-month period immediately preceding the first day of the requested leave to determine the amount of leave, which an employee has used.
When medically necessary, a faculty or staff member may take leave intermittently or on a reduced leave schedule. The Colleges may temporarily transfer an employee on an intermittent or reduced leave schedule to an available alternative position, with equivalent pay and benefits, which better accommodates the leave.
When an employee seeks intermittent or reduced schedule leave to care for a son or daughter after birth or placement with the employee for adoption or foster care, the employee must obtain the Colleges' approval.
An employee's 12-week leave entitlement will run concurrently with any sick pay, disability, or workers' compensation absence due to a condition that qualifies as a serious health condition.
Compensation during leave: The FMLA entitles a faculty or staff member to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period. However, employees must use all available paid vacation (staff only), personal (staff only), sick, disability and workers' compensation time (until exhausted) concurrently with any qualified leave period. Note that, employees may not use sick time concurrently with FMLA leave taken to care for a spouse, son, daughter or parent with a serious health condition. When an employee has exhausted all available paid vacation, personal, sick, disability and workers' compensation time, the employee will not receive compensation for the remainder of the leave period.
Faculty and staff members will not lose previously accrued benefits or seniority (union only) or position in the faculty step and sabbatic accrual systems while on leave. Time accrued toward retention and promotion decisions is as described for faculty generally, as found in the Faculty Handbook (Part II, B.2). However, benefits such as staff vacation time and hourly employees' sick time do not accrue during employees' unpaid leave periods.
During any period of leave, the Colleges will continue an employee's health benefits at the same level and under the same conditions as if the employee were actively working. An employee must continue to pay any portion of their health insurance premium, which the Colleges required prior to the leave, by the 1st day of each month. The Colleges may terminate an employee's health insurance coverage if an employee's premium payment is more than 30 days late. If an employee's health insurance has been terminated for failure to pay premiums while on leave, the Colleges will immediately reinstate the employee's health insurance upon the employee's return to work. If the employee fails to return at the end of his or her leave period, the employer may, under certain circumstances, recover from the employee the costs incurred to maintain the employee's health insurance during the leave period.
Return from Leave: A faculty or staff member returning from leave has no greater right to reinstatement or other terms and conditions of employment than if the employee had been continuously working during their leave period. If the employee would have otherwise been employed at the time of reinstatement, the Colleges will return an employee to their position or a position with equivalent pay and benefits, at the end of any qualified leave. The Colleges may deny reinstatement to any key employee when necessary to prevent substantial and grievous economic injury to the Colleges.
If the Colleges requires "fitness-for-duty" medical certification, the Colleges may deny reinstatement until the employee provides the certification.
A faculty or staff member must provide the Colleges with reasonable notice of any foreseeable change in circumstances which permits the employee to return to work before the end of the requested leave period. Faculty should be aware that the provisions of the Faculty Course Release Policy would not necessarily apply to return from a leave under FMLA.
Reasonable Accommodation and Extended Leave: Most serious health conditions experienced by employees are also disabilities for purposes of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Colleges' disability policies.
The Colleges will, upon request, and may, on their own initiative, attempt to reasonably accommodate any employees with a disability to enable the employee to continue to perform the essential functions of their job. Any such accommodation must be medically necessary and effective, and must not create an undue hardship for the Colleges.
An extended leave of absence (beyond the 12 weeks permitted under the Colleges' FMLA policy) may, in some instances, be a reasonable accommodation. A faculty member desiring such leave must consult with, and obtain approval from, the Provost (faculty) or the Office of Human Resources (staff). The terms of such leave including return from leave, will be established by the Colleges at the time when such leave is granted.
Definitions: The following definitions apply to the provisions of this policy.
(1) Inpatient care; or
(2) Continuing treatment by a health care provider involving:
(a) A period of incapacity of more than three consecutive days;
(b) Any period of incapacity due to pregnancy, or for prenatal care;
(c) Any period of incapacity due to a chronic serious health condition;
(d) A permanent or long-term incapacity due to a condition for which treatment may not be effective; or
(e) A period of absence to receive multiple treatments for restorative surgery for a condition that would likely result in incapacity of more than three days in the absence of treatment.
In addition to those serious health conditions, which are covered by disability, the Family Medical Leave Act designates as serious health conditions certain illnesses or conditions which are not normally covered by disability.
For more information about vacation, please contact the Office of Human Resources.