The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons. It is the intent of VCU to provide employees the opportunity to balance the demands of the workplace and their families by taking paid or unpaid leave for medical reasons. The FMLA policy for VCU is designed to be consistent with federal law and the provisions of the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Policy on Family and Medical Leave. 

See also:

FMLA request form (search under VCU HR forms)

Family Medical Leave Act policy (under VCU HR policies)

Disability insurance, which may replace all or part of your income while on FMLA

Glossary of terms

Exigency
Leave needed for circumstances related to a call to military duty or impending call to duty, including short-term notice of deployment, military events, childcare and school activities, financial and legal arrangements, counseling, rest and recuperation and post-deployment activities.

Immediate family member
A child (biological, adopted, foster, step or legal ward) under age 18, a dependent child over 18 years of age who is incapable of self-care because of a mental or physical disability, a spouse or a parent who has a serious health condition. Also includes “next of kin,” defined as the closest blood relative, if the leave is used for the serious health condition of a covered service member.

Intermittent schedule
A leave schedule permitting the employee to take leave periodically for a few hours a day or for a few days at a time, on an as-needed basis.

Reduced schedule
A leave schedule permitting the employee to reduce his/her usual number of hours worked per workweek or per workday.

Key position
A position within the highest paid 10 percent of the institution’s employees.

Serious health condition
An injury, illness, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves inpatient care in a hospital, hospice or residential medical care facility or a condition requiring “continuing treatment” by a health care provider.

Eligibility criteria

An employee must have been employed by the commonwealth of Virginia for at least 12 months and have worked for VCU at least 1,250 hours during the 12-month period prior to the start of the leave. (Note: Neither the 12 months nor the required 1,250 hours have to be worked during consecutive months. The 12 months must have been worked subsequent to any seven-year break in service.)

Leave for a qualifying exigency is only available to employees who have family members in the National Guard, reserves and regular armed forces or reserve who are retired.

Qualifying reasons for FMLA leave

The following are qualifying reasons for which an employee may take family and medical leave:

  • The employee’s own serious health condition
  • The birth of a child (to be taken within 12 months after birth)
  • The placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care (to be taken within 12 months of the date of placement)
  • The need to care for an immediate family member who has a serious health condition
  • A qualifying exigency arising out of the employee’s spouse, child or parent being on active military duty or having been notified of an impending call to duty
Benefits and conditions

Salary continuation
An employee may choose to use accrued leave as provided under applicable faculty and staff leave policies so that his/her salary continues without interruption. If the employee does not choose to substitute accrued paid leave, the department may require the substitution. The number of unpaid workdays or work hours, when combined with the number of days of other leave taken, may not exceed a total of 60 workdays or 480 work hours.

Length of leave
Eligible full-time employees may take up to 12 weeks (60 work days; 480 work hours) of family and medical leave in a calendar year. Any time missed from work due to family and medical leave that exceeds 12 weeks in a calendar year will not be covered by this policy. Eligible part-time and hourly employees may take FMLA leave on a prorated basis corresponding to the percentage of time (percent FTE) worked during the 365-day period prior to the date family and medical leave is scheduled to begin.

FMLA leave is extended to 26 workweeks (1,040 hours) to care for a family member with a serious health condition when the spouse, children, parents or “next of kin” is a covered service member and the health condition is incurred in the line of duty on active duty. This leave is only available once and is combined with all other leaves that year limiting FMLA leave for all purposes to 26 weeks during a 12-month period.

Intermittent leave
When medically necessary, an employee may take family and medical leave on an intermittent or reduced schedule. The employee may be transferred temporarily to another position that better accommodates the intermittent leave or reduced schedule provided the new position carries equivalent pay and benefits. If the intermittent schedule is requested to care for a newborn child or because of the placement of a child through adoption or foster care, the supervisor must give approval prior to the leave.

Benefits
The university will continue to contribute to the health insurance premiums of salaried employees who are on family and medical leave. When using paid leave under the provisions of this policy, the payroll deductions of the employee’s portion of the premium continue.

When employees are on leave without pay under family and medical leave, they are responsible for making their premium contributions. Upon the employee’s return from leave, he/she will be reinstated to all benefits with no change in coverage.

Reinstatement
At the end of family and medical leave, employees are to be reinstated to the same position or to one with equivalent pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment. The employee should report periodically on his/her status and intent to return to work and may be required to provide certification from a health care provider that he/she is able to return to work.

  • The university may deny restoration if it can be shown that the employee would not have been employed at the time reinstatement is requested (i.e., the employee would have been laid off).
  • If a position is determined to be a key position, the university may deny restoration when necessary to prevent substantial and grievous economic injury to the institution’s operation. The university must notify the employee that restoration will be denied and provide him/her with a reasonable opportunity to discontinue leave and return to work.

FMLA leave restrictions
When both spouses work for the university, the total amount of leave provided to both employees is limited to a combined total of 12 weeks in a 12-month period when the leave is for the birth, adoption or foster care placement of a child with the employee, or for the care of a child within 12 months after the birth or placement.

This limitation does not apply if the leave is taken because of the employee’s own serious health condition or to care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition.

Concurrent leave
Family and medical leave may run concurrent with other leave coverage such as the Virginia Sickness and Disability Program and workers’ compensation leave for occupational injuries or illnesses.

Medical certification
The FMLA allows for a significant amount of medical documentation to be obtained. Departments should require medical certification from a health care provider for an employee’s own serious health condition or for a family member’s serious health condition before family and medical leave is granted.

Employees must provide documentation within 15 calendar days following the request by the supervisor for FMLA leave eligibility to be preserved. Documentation of the same illness may only be requested once every 30 days unless the original documentation states the minimum duration is more than 30 days. Recertification can be obtained every six months in the latter circumstance.

Employee responsibilities
Employees are required to provide enough information for the supervisor to know if they should consider FMLA leave. That information includes the anticipated duration of leave, whether the employee can perform the job and if he/she intends to visit a health care provider.

Employees should provide at least 30 days advance written notice before family and medical leave is to begin, if the need for leave is foreseeable, such as for an expected birth, adoption or planned medical treatment.

If emergencies or unforeseen events preclude such advance notice, the employee should give notice in accordance with department call-in procedures. Department call-in policies regarding unscheduled leave notification are still applicable.

Department responsibilities
The supervisor should be knowledgeable about FMLA and is responsible for providing the FMLA leave information handout within five working days of receiving the employee’s request for family and medical leave.

Generally, FMLA leave must be designated within five working days after learning of the qualifying reason and may be applied retroactively provided the employee is not harmed. Departments are responsible for tracking and calculating FMLA usage. 

Applying for FMLA
  1. Employee notifies manager of need for FMLA or manager learns of possible FMLA situation.
  2. Manager meets with employee in person or by phone to discuss FMLA situation. Manager either gives or mails a copy of FMLA process to employee, including the following:
    • FMLA request form to be completed by employee (search for this form at VCU HR forms).
    • Notice of FMLA eligibility form to be completed by manager. FMLA medical certification form for employee’s own serious health condition or for family member’s serious health condition appropriate certification to be completed by attending physician and returned to personnel administrator, manager or HR Leave within 15 days of date on FMLA eligibility form.
  3. Employee completes and returns FMLA request form to manager.
  4. Employee completes and returns FMLA medical certification form within 15 days.
  5. Manager informs timekeeper and personnel administrator that employee has requested FMLA.
    • Manager gives all FMLA forms to personnel administrator or timekeeper as soon as completed forms have been received.
    • Timekeeper or personnel administrator sends copies of completed FMLA forms to HR Leave as soon as received.
  6. Manager contacts either personnel administrator or timekeeper to verify employee is eligible for FMLA.
    • Personnel administrator or timekeeper reviews information in Banner to determine if employee has worked at least 12 months and has worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12-month period prior to the start of FMLA leave.
    • If employee is determined not to be eligible for FMLA, manager informs employee.
  7. Manager retains copy of FMLA request form and Notice of Eligibility form until employee returns appropriate medical certification form.
  8. Employee sends completed medical certification form to department or to HR Leave at hrdocs@vcu.edu.
    • If employee sends medical certification form to HR Leave, that office will notify personnel administrator when medical certification form is received.
    • Personnel administrator notifies manager that medical certification has been received.
  9. Manager completes Designation of FMLA form (search for this form at VCU HR forms) and either gives or sends a copy to employee. Manager must mail this form no later than 2 business days after medical certification is received.
  10. Manager sends originals of FMLA request form, medical certification form, Notice of Eligibility form and Designation of FMLA form to personnel administrator for further processing. Personnel administrator places originals of FMLA forms in a designated record area separate from department’s personnel file. (FMLA forms cannot be placed in employee personnel file.)
  11. Personnel administrator works with timekeeper and HR Leave to record time accordingly.
  12. Employee provides manager with return-to-work notice from employee’s health care professional before employee can return to work. Manager provides return-to-work notice to personnel administrator who sends it to HR Leave for processing.