Family and Medical Leave [FMLA]

Policy Statement: In accordance with the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA), the college provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of family and medical leave during any 12- month period. 

Purpose/Reason for Policy: FMLA requires covered employers to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to eligible employees for certain family and medical reasons. FMLA provides eligible employees with up to 26 weeks of leave for Service Member family leave.

Scope/Covered Persons: Employees who have been employed by Guilford College for at least twelve months (which need not be consecutive) and must have actually worked at least 1250 hours during the twelve-month period immediately preceding the beginning of the leave. 

Definitions: 

Spouse (or partner): A husband or wife as defined or recognized under state law for purposes of marriage in the state where the employee resides.

Parent: A biological parent or an individual who provides or provided day-to-day care and financial support to the employee when the employee was a child. This includes foster parent, adoptive parent, step-parent, and legal guardian. Parent does not mean a parent-in-law or grandparent.

Child: A biological, adopted or foster child, stepchild, legal ward, or under the FMLA, the child of a person having day-to-day care and financial responsibility for the child who is under age 18. Child includes a person 18 years of age or older who is incapable of self-care because of a mental or physical disability. For Qualifying Exigency Leave or Service member Family Leave, the child does not have to be a minor (under the age of 18) and can be of any age.

Incapable of self-care: The child requires active assistance or supervision to provide daily self-care in three or more “activities of daily living,” or “instrumental activities of daily living,” including adaptive activities such as caring appropriately for one’s grooming and hygiene, bathing, dressing, eating, or instrumental activities such as shopping, taking public transportation, maintaining a residence, etc.

Physical or mental disability: A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of the individual.

Next of Kin: Used with respect to an individual, means the nearest blood relative of that individual, other than the spouse (or partner), parent or child.

Serious Health Condition: Illness, injury, impairment or physical or mental condition that involves:

  • Inpatient care in a hospital, hospice or residential medical care facility.
  • A period of incapacity of more than three consecutive calendar days (including any subsequent treatment or period of incapacity relating to the same condition) that also involves: 1) treatment two or more times within 30 days of the first day of incapacity, unless extenuating circumstances exist, by or under the orders of a health care provider; or 2) treatment by a health care provider on at least one occasion which results in a regimen of continuing treatment under the supervision of a health care provider. The first (or only) visit must occur in person within seven days of the first day of incapacity.
  • Any incapacity due to pregnancy or for prenatal care.
  • Chronic conditions requiring periodic treatment by or under the supervision of a health care provider which continue over an extended period of time and may cause an episodic rather than a continuing period of incapacity (e.g., asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, etc.).
  • Permanent/long-term conditions requiring supervision for which treatment may not be effective (e.g., Alzheimer’s, a severe stroke, or the terminal stages of a disease).
  • Multiple treatments by or under the supervision of a health care provider either for restorative surgery after an accident or other injury or for a condition that would likely result in a period of incapacity of more than three calendar days in the absence of medical intervention or treatment, such as cancer (chemotherapy), severe arthritis (physical therapy) or kidney disease (dialysis).

Serious Injury or Illness: In the case of a member of the Armed Forces, including a member of the National Guard or Reserves, an injury or illness incurred by the member in the line of duty on active duty in the Armed Forces that may render the member medically unfit to perform the duties of the member’s office, grade, rank, or rating.

Qualifying Exigency: Specific circumstances constituting a “qualifying exigency” are as follows: (1) short-notice deployment; (2) military events and related activities; (3) childcare and school activities; (4) financial and legal arrangements; (5) counseling; (6) rest and recuperation; (7) post- deployment activities; (8) parental care for the parent of a military member, when the parent is incapable of self-care; and (9) additional activities (including time and duration of such leave) agreed to between the employee and the University. Section 825.126 of the FMLA regulations provides specific restrictions (time periods, qualifying activities, and other specific limits) applicable to certain of these “qualifying exigency” circumstances.

The Policy:  

Reasons for Leave

In order to qualify for FMLA leave under this policy, an employee must be taking the leave for one of the following reasons:

  • The birth and care of an employee’s child (entitlement expires twelve months after birth); 
  • The placement of a child for adoption or foster care with an employee (entitlement covers required pre-placement/adoption absences and expires twelve months after placement/adoption); 
  • When an employee is needed to care for a child, spouse or parent who has a serious health condition;
  • When an employee is unable to work at all or unable to perform any one of the essential functions of his/ her position because of the employee’s own serious health condition; or
  • When a “qualifying exigency” arises out of the fact that an employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is on active duty in a foreign country in the Armed Forces of the United States (or has been notified of an impending Federal call or Federal order to active duty in a foreign country from the National Guard or military reserves).

Amount of Leave Available

Eligible employees are generally eligible for up to a total of 12 weeks of protected leave, within a rolling twelve-month period, measured backward from the date an employee uses any Federal leave for any combination of reasons listed below. Where leave is taken to care for a covered service member who is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy, is otherwise in outpatient status or is otherwise on the temporary disability retired list, for a serious injury or illness, a spouse (or partner), son, daughter, parent or next of kin may take up to 26 weeks of unpaid leave during a single 12-month period.

Under the FMLA, spouses (or partners) employed by Guilford College are jointly entitled to a combined total of 12 weeks of family leave for the birth or placement of a child for adoption or foster care, to care for a parent who has a serious health condition, and for any qualifying exigency regarding active duty of a family member in the military. Spouses (or partners) employed by Guilford College are jointly entitled to a combined total of 26 weeks of family leave to care for a covered service member with a serious injury or illness, for the birth or placement of a child for adoption or foster care, or to care for a parent who has a serious health condition.

Notifying Guilford College of the Need for Family or Medical Leave

Generally, an application for leave must be completed for all leave taken under this policy. The need to take non-emergency leave should generally be requested from the Office of Human Resources at least 30 days, or as soon as practicable, in advance of the need. In cases of emergency, verbal notice should be given as soon as possible (or by the employee’s representative if the employee is incapacitated), and the application form should be completed as soon as practicable. Failure to provide adequate notice may, in the case of foreseeable leave, result in a delay or denial of the leave. The employee is responsible for notifying the manager and the Office of Human Resources of absences that may be covered by FMLA.

An employee must provide sufficient information regarding the reason for an absence for Guilford College to know that this policy may apply. Failure to provide this information will result in delay and/or forfeiture of rights under this policy.

Medical Certification Process

In addition to an application for leave, an employee will be required to complete a medical certification form where leave is for a family member’s or an employee’s own serious health condition. The certification form needs to be signed by the treating healthcare provider. The short-term disability certification may be sufficient where the information required is duplicative. These forms are available from the Office of Human Resources. Second or third certifications from healthcare providers and periodic recertification may be required under certain circumstances.

The College may also require periodic reports during FMLA leave regarding the employee’s status and intent to return to work.

Substituting Paid Leave for Unpaid Leave

FMLA leave is a federally-mandated unpaid leave program. Guilford College requires employees to use any accrued vacation and emergency leave days to cover some or all of the FMLA leave before unpaid leave can be taken. An employee may also be paid for all or part of a medical leave to the extent that employee is eligible for benefits such as short-term disability. In this way, an individual’s FMLA leave may end up being paid, unpaid, or a combination of both.

FMLA leave runs concurrently with other college-sponsored leave plans.

When an employee is absent due to a work-related illness or injury that meets the definition of a serious health condition, the absence will be counted against the employee’s entitlement under this FMLA policy. In other words, the employee will use FMLA leave concurrently with the workers’ compensation absence. An employee is not required to substitute paid time off for an absence covered under workers’ compensation.

Intermittent or Reduced Schedule Leave 

For the birth, adoption, or foster care of a child, FMLA leave must be taken over 12 consecutive weeks and must be taken within one year of the birth or placement of the child.

When an employee is taking leave for their own serious health condition or because of the serious health condition of a family member, the employee may take FMLA leave in 12 consecutive weeks, use the leave intermittently (take a day periodically when needed over the year), or, under certain circumstances, use the leave to reduce the workweek or work day which would result in a reduced-hour work schedule. In all cases, the leave may not exceed a total of 12 weeks over a 12-month period.

Intermittent and reduced schedule leave must be scheduled with minimal disruption to an employee’s job. To the extent an employee or family member has control, medical appointments and treatments related to an employee’s or family member’s serious health condition should be scheduled outside of working hours or at such times that allow for a minimal amount of time away from work.

If an employee requests non-continuous FMLA leave which is foreseeable based on planned medical treatment for purposes of providing care to a child, spouse (or partner) or parent with a serious health condition, for the employee’s own serious health condition, or for service member family leave, the employee may be required to transfer temporarily to an available alternative position for which the employee is qualified and which might better accommodate recurring periods of leave than the employee’s regular employment position. The employee will receive equivalent pay and benefits.

Benefit Continuation During Leave 

Guilford College will maintain group health insurance coverage and other employment benefits (such as group life insurance, AD&D, health and dependent flexible spending accounts, etc.) while an employee is on FMLA leave whenever such insurance was provided before the leave was taken and on the same terms as if the employee had continued to work. The employee will be required to pay the regular portion of insurance premiums – contact the Office of Human Resources for an explanation of options.

In some instances, Guilford College may recover premiums it paid to maintain health insurance coverage for an employee who fails to return to work from FMLA leave.

Returning to Work

If the reason for FMLA leave is for the employee’s own serious health condition, the employee will be required to present a Fitness-For-Duty certification from a healthcare provider before being permitted to return to work. Failure to provide the statement may result in a delay in the return to work.

Should an employee wish to return to work before the scheduled expiration of an FMLA leave, the employee must notify Guilford College of the changing circumstances and provide a Fitness-For-Duty certification from the healthcare provider as soon as possible but no later than two working days prior to the desired return date.

An employee who fails to return to work immediately after the expiration of the leave period will be considered to have voluntarily terminated employment.

Rights Upon Return From Leave 

Upon return from Family or Medical Leave, an employee will generally be returned to the position held immediately prior to the leave if the position is vacant. Certain exceptions exist for Key Employees as defined by law. If the position is not vacant, the employee will be placed in an equivalent employment position with equivalent pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment. If an employee exhausts all leave under this policy and is still unable to return to work, the situation will be reviewed to determine what rights and protections might exist under other Guilford College policies.

The law provides that an employee has no greater rights upon a return from leave than the employee would have if the employee had continued to work. Therefore, a layoff, termination or other job change may impact the ability of the employee to return to work. 

Flexible Work Schedule

An employee who gave birth or whose spouse/partner gave birth, adopted a child, or placed a child in foster care may request a flexible work schedule for 8 weeks during the year of birth/adoption/placement in foster care. The request for flexible work schedule should be made to the Office of Human Resources, and the flexible schedule, if feasible and permitted, will be arranged in coordination with the employee’s immediate supervisor.

Breastfeeding/Lactation Policy

Employees who are nursing mothers will be provided reasonable periods of time and a private space to nurse an infant and/or express milk as often as necessary for up to one year following the birth of a child.  The full policy is available here.

Roles and Responsibilities: Due to the requirements of the FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act), employees and/or supervisors should apprise the Office of Human Resources of any sick leave absence that exceeds one week in duration. This includes absences which exceed one week due to injury on the job (workers’ compensation cases) or absences that are anticipated as a result of scheduled surgery or treatment.

Compliance: Failure to follow the provisions of this policy may result in the denial of rights and privileges afforded by this program.

Other Related Policies, Regulations, Statutes and Documents: Breastfeeding/Lactation Policy

Approval Authority: The President of Guilford College

Responsible Office: Alisa Quick, Director of Human Resources, King Hall 101D, 336.316.2135, quickat@guilford.edu 

Revision History: Updated in the Employee Handbook revision of 2018