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Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
In accordance with the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 (revised January, 2009), Wentworth Institute of Technology has established a policy to allow employees to take a period of leave (generally not to exceed 12 weeks) for the care of their own serious health condition or that of specific family members as defined under FMLA. Employees are eligible if they have worked at Wentworth for at least one year, and/or a minimum of 1,250 hours during the previous 12-month period. Wentworth requires that the employee use any earned sick or personal leave, as indicated allowable below [see sections a) through d)], before taking leave as unpaid. The employee may elect to use earned vacation time if they wish to do so. A letter from the attending physician must be submitted to the Human Resources Department at this time. Continuation of group health insurance will remain the same. If the employee is unable to return to work at the end of the 12-week period, Wentworth may consider the employee to have terminated his/her employment unless the employee has requested and been granted an extension. After 12 weeks, health insurance may be continued at the group rate in accordance with COBRA regulations (see Section IV: Benefits) if the employee pays the full premium. Other benefits may be affected when the employee is on an unpaid leave.
FMLA leave may be granted for the following reasons:
- For incapacity due to pregnancy, prenatal medical care or child birth;
- To care for the employee's child after birth, or placement for adoption or foster care
- To care for the employee's spouse, child or parent who has a serious health condition
- For a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform his/her job
- Military family leave entitlements (see details below)
An employee returning from an approved medical leave of absence of 12 weeks or less is entitled to the same or a similar position without loss of employment benefits for which he/she was eligible on the date the leave commenced. An employee who is on an approved leave for a period between 12 weeks and 6 months shall receive every reasonable consideration by Wentworth in returning to his/her original position or to a position of like responsibility and pay. However, Wentworth cannot guarantee re-employment nor should any leave result in an employee being placed in a better position than would have been the case had the employee remained actively employed.
All regular employees working at least 17.5 hours per week with twelve consecutive months of service, totaling at least 1,250 hours, are eligible for a 12-week unpaid leave of absence during a twelve-month period (see exception for military service members below) for the birth or adoption of a child, for the serious health condition of an employee, for the care of an employee’s spouse, child or parent with a serious health condition or for military family leave entitlements. The twelve-month eligibility period is a “rolling period” measured from the date the employee last used any family or medical leave.
“Serious health condition” is defined as an illness, injury or impairment that involves inpatient care in a hospital, hospice or residential care facility or continuing treatment by a health care provider. Subject to certain conditions, the continuing treatment requirement may be met by a period of incapacity of more than three consecutive calendar days combined with at least two visits to a health care provider or one visit and a regimen of continuing treatment, or incapacity due to pregnancy, or incapacity due to a chronic condition.
a) Employee or Family member illnesses:
For the care of a sick family member, employees may utilize their accrued personal and/or vacation time. For the employee's own illness, they would be eligible to utilize all earned sick time.
b) Pregnancy or Parental Leave:
For employees on pregnancy leave, they may use up to 8 weeks of available sick time, but may not utilize paid sick time for the remaining 4 weeks unless advised by a physician to do so, and a physician's statement is presented to the Human Resources Department. Employees on pregnancy leave may, however, utilize their paid vacation leave during these last 4 weeks, or take the time as unpaid. For employees on parental leave, they may use up to 12 weeks of available vacation or personal time. During any portion of the leave that is unpaid, employees will be responsible for the cost of their benefits. FMLA leave will run concurrently with leave taken pursuant to the Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act.
c) Adoption Leave:
Employees must request adoption leave at least 4 weeks prior to the anticipated leave date, and present a copy of the official adoption papers when available. Employees who are the primary care giver of an adopted child may use up to 12 weeks of their earned vacation and/or personal time during the 12 week FMLA leave or take the time as unpaid. During any portion of the leave that is unpaid, employees will be responsible for the cost of their benefits.
d) Military Family Exigency:
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 are eligible for 12 weeks of leave. Employees may use earned vacation or personal time or take leave without pay. During any portion of the leave that is unpaid, employees will be responsible for the cost of their benefits. Qualifying exigencies may include attending certain military events, arranging for alternative childcare, addressing certain financial and legal arrangements, etc.
e) Military Service Member Illness or Injury:
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. Employees may use earned vacation or personal time or take leave without pay. During any portion of the leave that is unpaid, employees will be responsible for the cost of their benefits. A covered service member is a current member of the Armed Forces, including a member of the National Guard or Reserves, who had a serious injury or illness incurred in the line of duty while on active duty that may render the service member medically unfit to perform his/her duties for which the service member is undergoing medical treatment, recuperative, or therapy; or is in outpatient status, or is on the military’s temporary disability retired list.
Regular employees working at least 17.5 hours a week with less than twelve months of service should refer to information in this section regarding sick leaves, medical leaves and unpaid leaves.
Consecutive Vs. Intermittent or Reduced-Schedule Leaves
Leave taken for the birth or adoption of a child may only be taken for a maximum of twelve consecutive weeks. Leave for birth or adoption must be taken within the 12-month period following the birth or adoption. Leaves taken for the purposes of an employee’s own illness or the illness of an immediate family member may be taken on a consecutive basis. The employee may also take an intermittent or a reduced-schedule leave when medically necessary. A reduced-schedule leave is one through which an employee works for fewer than his or her usual number of hours per workweek or workday. When the employee takes intermittent leave for planned medical treatments, the employer may require the employee to transfer temporarily to an equivalent alternative position that better accommodates the recurring periods of leave.
a. Notice of Leave
Eligible employees are required to give employers 30 days notice for foreseeable leaves for birth, adoption or planned medical treatments. If the date of birth, adoption or medical treatment requires leave to begin in less than 30 days, the employee is required to provide as much notice as practicable. Employees are required to make a reasonable effort to schedule planned medical treatment so as not to unduly disrupt Wentworth’s operations.
b. Designation of Family and Medical Leave
After an eligible employee gives Wentworth notice of his or her request to take a Family and Medical Leave, Wentworth will determine if the requested leave qualifies as a Family and Medical Leave and will inform the employee if the leave has been designated as such. In addition, Wentworth will provide the employee with a written notice detailing the specific expectations and obligations of the employee and explaining the consequences of a failure to meet these obligations. The notice will inform an employee who has requested a Family and Medical Leave whether it has been approved, denied or conditionally approved pending medical certification.
1) Medical Certification
Employees are required to provide Human Resources with certification from a health care provider detailing certain specified information to justify the need for the leave for the employee’s own illness or to attend to the illness of an immediate family member. Wentworth may also require an independent medical evaluation at the Institute’s expense. It is the responsibility of employees to provide periodic updates (at least one every 30 days) to keep Wentworth informed as to the progress of their illness or the illness of their family member. Failure to provide this documentation could result in the denial or delay of FMLA leave.