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Family and Medical Leave

  • Responsible Office: Human Resources, Division of Administration
  • Current Approved Version: 01/18/2022
  • Policy Type: Administrative

Policy Statement and Purpose

It is the policy of VCU to grant unpaid family and temporary medical leave according to the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) under certain circumstances. FMLA reporting in this policy applies only to employees covered by the university.  This policy does not cover provisions or requirements for FMLA reporting to affiliated entities with which a university employee may also be employed, such as MCV Physicians, VCU Dental Care, VCU Health System,  etc.  For MCV and VCUHS, there are separate and concurrent FMLA reporting requirements that must also be followed.

It is the intent of Virginia Commonwealth University to provide employees the opportunity to balance the demands of the workplace and their families by taking paid or unpaid leave for medical reasons. This policy for the university is designed to be consistent with federal law (Family and Medical Leave Act – FMLA) and the provisions of the Commonwealth of Virginia's Policy on Family and Medical Leave. More detailed information regarding the FMLA can be found at the Department of Labor's FMLA website

Noncompliance with this policy may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment. VCU supports an environment free from retaliation. Retaliation is prohibited against any employee who brings forth a good faith concern, asks a clarifying question or participates in an investigation.

Who Should Know This Policy

All eligible employees are responsible for knowing this policy and familiarizing themselves with its contents and provisions.

Definitions

Exigency

This leave is 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

Eligible family members include:

  • Child - Biological, adopted or foster child, a stepchild, or legal ward, or a child of a person standing in place of the parent. The child must either be under age 18, or be age 18 or older and incapable of self-care because of a mental or a physical disability. 
  • Spouse - Husband or wife as recognized in accordance with Executive Order #30, Marriage Equality in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
  • Parent - Biological parent or individual who stood in place of the parent of the employee and was charged with the duties and responsibilities of the parent. This person 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 Leave or Reduced Schedule Leave

Under some circumstances, employees may take FMLA leave on an intermittent or reduced schedule basis. That means an employee may take leave in separate blocks of time or by reducing the time they work each day or week for a single qualifying reason. When leave is needed for planned medical treatment, the employee must make a reasonable effort to schedule treatment so as not to unduly disrupt the employer's operations. If FMLA leave is for the birth, adoption, or foster placement of a child, use of intermittent or reduced schedule leave requires the employer’s approval.

Key Position

A "key employee" is a salaried, FMLA-eligible employee who is among the highest paid 10 percent of all the employees employed by the employer within 75 miles of the employee's worksite

Serious Health Condition

Serious Health Condition - An illness, injury, impairment or physical or mental condition that involves inpatient care or either:

  1. A period of incapacity lasting more than three consecutive, full calendar days, and any subsequent treatment or period of incapacity relating to the same condition that also includes:
    • Treatment two or more times within 30 days by or under the supervision of a health care provider the first of which must occur within seven days of the first day of incapacity; or 
    • One treatment by a health care provider, within the first seven days of incapacity, with a continuing regimen of treatment; or
  2. Any period of incapacity related to pregnancy or for prenatal care. A visit to the health care provider is not necessary for each absence; or
  3. Any period of incapacity or treatment for a chronic serious health condition which continues over an extended period of time, requires periodic visit to a health care provider at least twice a year, and may involve occasional episodes of incapacity. A visit to a health care provider is not necessary for each absence; or
  4. A period of incapacity that is permanent or long-term due to a condition for which treatment may not be effective. Only supervision by a health care provider is required, rather than active treatment; or
  5. Any absences to receive multiple treatments for restorative surgery or for a condition that would likely result in a period of incapacity of more than three days, if not treated

Contacts

VCU Human Resources officially interprets this policy and is responsible for obtaining approval for any revisions as required by the policy Creating and Maintaining Policies and Procedures through the appropriate governance structures. Please direct policy questions to VCU Human Resources.

Policy Specifics and Procedures

  • 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.  Employees who are not eligible for family and medical leave at the beginning of a period of approved leave may become eligible during this period and begin family and medical leave once they meet the eligibility requirements.) Leave for a qualifying exigency is only available to employees who have a spouse, son, daughter, or parent who is a member of the Armed Forces (including the National Guard and Reserves) and who is on covered active duty or has been notified of an impending call or order to covered active duty. Eligible part-time and wage employees may take up to 12 weeks of unpaid family and medical leave per leave year.  Hours taken will be counted on a prorated basis corresponding to the percentage of hours they normally are scheduled to work during a fixed leave year

  • Qualifying Reasons for FMLA

    Any one of the following is a qualifying reason 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)
    • to care for an immediate family member who has a serious health condition
    • for a qualifying exigency arising out of the employee’s spouse, child or parent on active military duty or having been notified of an impending call to duty

 

3. Benefits and Conditions

Salary Continuation: An employee may choose to use available leave as provided under applicable faculty and staff leave policies so that the employee’s salary continues without interruption. If the employee does not choose to substitute available paid leave, the department may require the substitution. The number of unpaid work days or work hours, when combined with the number of days of other leave taken, may not exceed a total of 60 work days 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 fixed leave year. At VCU, the fixed leave year is January 10 of the current year through January 9 of the following year. Any time missed from work due to family and medical leave that exceeds 12 weeks in a fixed leavge year will not be covered by this policy. Eligible part-time and hourly employees may take FMLA on a prorated basis corresponding to the percentage of time (% FTE) worked during the 365-day period prior to the date family and medical leave is scheduled to begin.

FMLA is extended to 26 workweeks (1,040 hours) to care for a family member with a serious health condition when the spouse, child(ren), parent(s) 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 FMLA leaves that year, thereby limiting FMLA 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 manager must approve the employee's scheulde prior to the leave.

Benefits: The university will continue to contribute to the health benefits premiums of eligible 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.

  • If the employee’s portion of premiums is fully paid for the duration of family and medical leave, the employee’s health benefits will continue with no change in coverage upon return from leave.
  • If the employee’s portion of premiums is not fully paid for the duration of family and medical leave, the employee’s health benefits are subject to termination and the employee may reenroll in coverage within 60 days of returning from leave, within 60 days of a qualifying mid-year event that permits enrollment, or at the next open enrollment.

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. Keeping open lines of communication is important to ensure the manager is prepared for the employee's return to work.  The manager should establish with the employee the frequency of the periodic status reports the employee will provide during their leave of absence.  The manager should contact the employee before their scheduled return to work to ensure the employee provides their medical release on or before their 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 the employee with a reasonable opportunity to discontinue leave and return to work.

4. FMLA 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.

5. Concurrent Leave

Family and medical leave may run concurrently with other leave coverage, such as VCU's short term disability programs under the Virginia Sickness and Disability Program (VSDP) and the Standard workers’ compensation leave for occupational injuries or illnesses.

6. Medical Certification

FMLA coverage allows for a significant amount of medical documentation to be obtained.

  • Employees must provide a Certification of Health Care Provider form for their own serious health condition or for a family member's serious health condition before family and medical leave is approved. Employees must provide documentation within 15 calendar days following their request to their manager for FMLA 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. Where the need for leave for an employee’s or family member’s serious health condition lasts beyond a single leave year, the employer may require a new certification in each subsequent FMLA leave year.  That means the employer may request a new medical certification with the first absence in a new 12-month leave year.  During recertification an employer may provide the health care provider with a record of the employee’s absence pattern, such as an attendance record of FMLA leave use, and ask the health care provider if the serious health condition and need for leave is consistent with the absence pattern provided.

    7. Employee Responsibilities

    Employees are required to provide enough information for the manager to determine if the employee's request for leave is for an FMLA-qualifying condition. This information should include the anticipated duration of leave needed, whether the employee can perform their job duties, and if the employee intends to visit a certified health care provider for their medical condition.  

    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 must give notice in accordance with department call-in procedures. Department call-in policies regarding unscheduled leave notification are still applicable while the employee’s request for FMLA is pending designation and approval. 

    Employees on unpaid FMLA leave must remit monthly health benefits coverage premiums by the first of each month to continue coverage for any month in which they do not return to work for at least half the working days in that month.

    8. Department Responsibilities

    The manager must be knowledgable about FMLA and is responsible for working with their HR Professional to provide the emploee with their eligibility for FMLA within five business days 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 leave may be applied retroactively provided the employee is not harmed. Departments are responsible for tracking and calculating FMLA usage.

Forms

Related Documents

Revision History

This policy supersedes the following archived policies:

Approval/Revision DateTitle
August 10, 2011 Family and Medical Leave
August 21, 2012 Family and Medical Leave
August 06, 2015 Family and Medical Leave
January 18, 2022 Minor Revisions

FAQ

There are no FAQ associated with this policy and procedures.