- What is the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)?
- Who is eligible?
- What can I use the FMLA for?
- How does the FMLA benefit an employee?
- Do I have to use available sick and annual leave while on FMLA?
- What notification is the employee required to give?
- Who do I contact in Human Resources about the FMLA?
- How often can I take leave under the FMLA?
- What if my spouse also works for the State of TN?
- What if I am not eligible for leave under the FMLA?
- What happens to my job?
- What if I am out longer than twelve weeks?
- Can my employer refuse to grant me FMLA?
- Are there other circumstances in which my employer can deny me FMLA leave or reinstatement to my job?
- What happens to my health insurance and other benefits?
- Will I be paid during my FMLA leave?
- How do I report my leave usage while I am on FMLA?
1. What is the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)?
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is federal law that provides job and benefit protection for up to 12 workweeks of leave during a 12-month period for family or medical leave, or for a qualifying exigency; or, up to 26 workweeks of leave for military caregiver leave during a 12-month period.
Employees who have at least 12 months of service with the State of TN and who have worked 1250 hours in the 12 months prior to the commencement of the FMLA leave.
3. What can I use the FMLA for?
- The employee has a serious health condition resulting in his or her inability to perform job functions for a period expected to exceed three consecutive work days.
- The birth of a child and to care for the newborn child. In addition to leave taken after the birth of a child, FMLA leave may be taken by an expectant mother for the purpose of prenatal visits, pregnancy related symptoms, and in situations where a serious health condition prevents her from performing her job duties prior to the child's birth.
- The adoptive or foster care placement of a child with the employee. FMLA leave may be taken prior to an adoptive or foster care placement if the leave is necessary for the placement to proceed. This would include granting leave for required counseling sessions, court appearances, and legal or medical consultations.
- To care for the employee's spouse, son, daughter, or parent with a serious health condition, as defined below:
- Spouse: Husband or wife as defined or recognized under Tennessee law for purposes of marriage.
- Parent: Biological parent or an individual who currently stands or stood in place of an absent parent to an employee when the employee was a child as defined in son/daughter below. The definition does not include parents-in-law.
- Son or Daughter: Biological, adopted, foster child, stepchild, legal ward, or child of a person standing in place of an absent parent, who is either under age 18 or age 18 or older and incapable of self-care because of a mental or physical disability.
- Qualifying exigency arising out of an employee's immediate family member who is a covered service member on covered active duty.
4. How does the FMLA benefit an employee?
Eligible employees are entitled to a maximum of 12 workweeks of unpaid leave during a 12-month period. 12 workweeks is equivalent to 60 work days or 450 hours. The leave is a paid leave only if the employee has sufficient leave that may be used to cover such absence. The initial 12-month period starts on the date the employee's FMLA leave first begins. Upon returning from FMLA leave, an employee must be restored to his or her original position or to an equivalent position with equivalent benefits, pay, and other employment terms and conditions.
For the duration of FMLA leave, the institution is required to maintain an employee's health coverage under the State Group Insurance Plan under the same conditions coverage would have been provided if the employee had continued working. The employee continues to be responsible for his or her portion of insurance premiums.
5. Do I have to use available sick and annual leave while on FMLA?
Yes, you are required to use your available sick and/or annual leave during your FMLA absence. Should you remain on leave after all sick and annual leave is exhausted you will go into a leave without pay (LWOP) status. While on LWOP, you will not accrue annual or sick leave or receive longevity payments, and your employment date will be adjusted upon your return to work. All leave will count against your FMLA leave entitlement.
6. What notification is the employee required to give?
- An employee giving notice of the need for FMLA does not need to express his rights under FMLA or even mention FMLA to fulfill his obligation to provide notice. However, he/she must provide sufficient information for Human Resources to determine that leave is for an FMLA qualifying event.
- When the need for FMLA leave is foreseeable, an employee must provide at least thirty days advance notice prior to the date the leave is to begin. In situations where thirty day notification is not possible, because the employee has no knowledge of the exact time when the leave will need to begin or because of a medical emergency, notice must be given as soon as practicable, normally within one or two business days of when the employee knows the date will be needed.
- The employee should notify the supervisor of the need for leave and the anticipated timing and duration of the leave. The supervisor may request additional information to determine if the employee is requesting FMLA leave specifically and to obtain the necessary details of the leave being taken.
- The employee will be required to complete a Request for Medical Leave at the beginning of the leave. Certification from a health care provider will also be requested. If the employee is unable to request his or her own leave due to a serious illness, a family member may make the request on the employee's behalf.
7. Who do I contact in Human Resources about the FMLA?
Contact an HR Business Partner in 165 Administration Building. If you cannot meet in person, you may contact HR at 678.3573. HR will ask questions about your illness or reason for taking leave and provide the required paperwork.
8. How often can I take leave under the FMLA?
You are eligible for a maximum of 12 workweeks in a 12-month period. 12 workweeks is equivalent to 60 work days or 450 hours. The 12-month period begins the first time you take FMLA leave. For purposes of parental bonding, the leave must be completed within 12 months of the birth or adoption.
9. What if my spouse also works for the State of TN?
Spouses who are both employees of the State are limited to a combined total of 12 weeks of FMLA leave during a 12-month period if the leave is taken for one of the following reasons: (1) birth of a child or for care of the child after birth; (2) adoptive or foster care placement of a child or for care of the child after placement; or (3) to care for a parent with a serious health condition.
10. What if I am not eligible for leave under the FMLA?
For any medical leave, you must submit a Request for Medical Leave. If you do not meet the eligibility requirements for FMLA, you may request a leave of absence from your department. Please see UM1572 (Leaves of Absence) for further information.
Upon returning from FMLA leave, an employee must be restored to his or her original position or to an equivalent position with equivalent benefits, pay, and other employment terms and conditions.
12. What if I am out longer than twelve weeks?
If you are out longer than 12 weeks, you must apply for a leave of absence from your department. Please see UM1572 (Leaves of Absence) for further information.
13. Can my employer refuse to grant me FMLA?
If you are an “eligible” employee who has met FMLA’s notice and certification requirements (and you have not exhausted your FMLA leave entitlement for the year), you may not be denied FMLA leave.
14. Are there other circumstances in which my employer can deny me FMLA leave or reinstatement to my job?
- In addition to denying reinstatement in certain circumstances to "key" employees, employers are not required to continue FMLA benefits or reinstate employees who would have been laid off or otherwise had their employment terminated had they continued to work during the FMLA leave period as, for example, due to a general layoff.
- Employees who give unequivocal notice that they do not intend to return to work lose their entitlement to FMLA leave.
- Employees who are unable to return to work and have exhausted their 12 weeks of FMLA leave in the designated "12 month period" no longer have FMLA protections of leave or job restoration.
- Under certain circumstances, employers who advise employees experiencing a serious health condition that they will require a medical certificate of fitness for duty to return to work may deny reinstatement to an employee who fails to provide the certification, or may delay reinstatement until the certification is submitted.
15. What happens to my health insurance and other benefits?
During the FMLA leave, the employer’s portion of the health insurance premiums will continue to be paid by the University. The employee’s portion will continue to be deducted from your paychecks. In the event you go into leave without pay, you will need to make arrangements to continue your share of the insurance premium payments to retain benefits while you are on leave. The University will pay the employer portion of the group health insurance during any approved unpaid FMLA leave, provided you pay the employee portion in accordance with the payroll deadline date. All other insurance plans that you wish to continue during the FMLA period must be fully paid by you. If you elect not to continue insurance coverage during the FMLA leave period, you must notify Human Resources in writing prior to the beginning of the leave. If insurance plan(s) are voluntarily suspended prior to the leave, you must request that coverage(s) be reinstated within 31 days of your return to work.
16. Will I be paid during my FMLA leave?
FMLA leave is unpaid unless you have sufficient sick and annual leave accruals to cover the absence. If you do not have sufficient leave, you will go into a leave without pay status. If you are a member of the Non-Faculty or Faculty Sick Leave Bank, you must apply to the Sick Leave Bank to utilize leave from the bank.
17. How do I report my leave usage while I am on FMLA?
A summary of reporting FMLA leave beginning with leaves approved after April 1, 2022 is available online.