7.10 Family and Medical Leaves of Absence

Effective Date: September 1, 2013 (revised)

Purpose:

In compliance with state and federal law, Trinity College will grant eligible faculty and administrative employees a leave of absence for family-related reasons or serious health conditions as outlined in Public Act 89-382 of the Connecticut Statutes and as amended by the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA, P.L. 103-3). The purpose of this policy is to provide employees the ability to request time away from work for personal or family matters of an urgent nature. Those who are granted a leave under the terms of this policy are guaranteed re-employment, and shall be free from reprisal, retaliation, or discrimination.

Procedure:

Employees must submit a request for leave of absence form to Human Resources as soon as feasible. Within five days Human Resources will determine whether or not the employee meets the basic seniority and work-hours requirements to be eligible for FMLA leave and give them a Notice of Eligibility and Rights & Responsibilities (form WH 381). At the same time employees will be given the appropriate Certification of Healthcare Provider form for either the Employee’s or Family Member’s Serious Health Condition (forms WH-380-E and WH-380-F respectively). The certification must be completed by the healthcare provider and returned to the Human Resources Department.

Once the employee has returned the appropriate Certification form from their healthcare provider, within five days Human Resources will provide a copy of the Designation Notice (form WH-382) which indicates whether or not their leave has been approved or if additional information is required.

Absence away from work for any consecutive period of five working days or longer, (other than vacation or approved time off for reasons unrelated to leaves as described in this policy), or the equivalent in intermittent leave, including sick leave or leave related to worker’s compensation, will be charged against the Family and Medical Leave time allowance.

Eligibility/Enrollment:

Employees who have worked for the College in an eligible position for at least one year, and have worked at least 1,000 hours in the 12 months preceding the leave are eligible employees under the state FMLA and those working 1,250 hours in the previous year are eligible under the federal FMLA. Eligible employees are entitled to leave under both federal and state law. Under state law, an eligible employee is entitled to 16 weeks’ leave for each two-year period. Under federal law, an eligible employee is entitled to 12 weeks’ leave for each one-year period. The state and federal leave periods will run concurrently - that is, a week of leave will count toward both the federal and state entitlements. Under both statutes, the maximum amount of leave to which an individual employee may be entitled is 28 weeks in any two year period and 16 weeks in any one year period.

Reasons for Leave:

For purposes of this policy, a serious health condition is an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves either an overnight stay in a medical care facility, or continuing treatment by a healthcare provider for a condition that either prevents the employee from performing the functions of the employee’s job, or prevents the qualified family member from participating in school or other daily activities. 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 healthcare provider or one visit and a regimen of continuing treatment, or incapacity due to pregnancy, or incapacity due to a chronic condition.

Should both spouses work for the College, the total combined leave in a 24 month period for any of the following reasons is limited to a maximum of 16 weeks during the 12 month period commencing with the first day of the leaves, and 12 weeks during the second year:

The right to leave for the birth or placement of a child expires 12 months after the birth or placement with the employee occurs.

Eligible employees are entitled to a total of 16 weeks in a 24 month period to care for a parent-in-law with a serious illness. If both spouses work for the College, the total combined leave available to them in any 24 month period for a leave of this nature is limited to 16 weeks.

Salary Continuation During Leave

An eligible administrative employee taking a leave of absence under the provisions of this policy must take any vacation, holiday, and personal time accrued as of the effective date of the leave - i.e. the next scheduled work day following the last day the employee actually worked. If the leave is for an employees own serious health condition, (but only for this reason), accrued sick time must be applied prior to other accrued paid leave time. Accrued sick time may only be used during the period an employee is disabled by a health care provider. Once all accrued paid leave time has been exhausted, the remainder of the leave will be unpaid except as stipulated in Policies 7.11 Pay During Approved Leaves of Absence and 7.12 Short-Term Disability. Should an employee not have any such time accrued at the start of the leave, the entire duration of the leave may be unpaid, depending upon the reason for the leave. Employees who do not work and are not paid during certain periods, e.g., over the summer break, will not have these periods counted against their FMLA limit while on leave. These employees are not required or permitted to use sick or vacation time during such periods.

Faculty pay during approved leaves of absence under this policy is outlined in Policy 7.11 Pay During Approved Leaves of Absence and 7.12 Short-Term Disability.

Employment Benefits During Leave:

While an employee is on leave, Trinity will continue the employee’s group health insurance at the same level and under the same conditions as if the employee had continued to work. Under Trinity’s current policy, the employee pays a portion of the health insurance premiums. While on paid leave, Trinity will continue to make payroll deductions to collect the employee’s share of the premium. While on unpaid leave, the employee must continue to make this payment, either in person or by mail. If the payment is more than 30 days late, the employee’s healthcare coverage may be dropped for the duration of the leave. The College will provide 15 days notification prior to the employee’s loss of coverage. In such cases an employee may enroll again (at the same level of coverage) in one of the College’s group health insurance plans upon returning to work. An employee who remains on the College’s group medical or dental insurance plan for all or part of a leave of absence is required to reimburse the College for the full amount of premium costs incurred during the leave if such employee does not return to work following expiration of the leave. In exceptional circumstances, the Director of Human Resources may waive this provision.

Retirement Plan contributions and Reimbursement Account deductions do not continue during periods of unpaid leaves.

During paid leaves of absence sick and vacation accruals continue. Holiday benefits are not available during an unpaid leave of absence. There is no accrual of sick, vacation or personal leave during an unpaid leave.

Definitions:

Spouse:

Defined only as “husband” or “wife” through legal marriage, civil union recognized in the state of Connecticut, or those who meet eligibility requirements as defined in Policy 8.15 Benefits for Same-Sex Domestic Partners.

Child:

Biological child, adopted child, foster child, stepchild, legal ward up to age 18, or child of a person standing in loco parentis, also up to age 18. If the child is incapable of self-care because of physical or mental disability, the age limit does not apply. This also pertains to children of same-sex domestic partners as defined in Policy 8.15 Benefits for Same-Sex Domestic Partners.

Parent:

The biological parent of an employee, or an individual who stood in loco parentis to an employee when the employee was a child.

Parent-in-law:

The parent of an employee’s spouse or parent of same-sex domestic partner as defined in Policy 8.15 Benefits for Same-Sex Domestic Partners. .

Reduced Leave Schedule:

Leave schedule that reduces an employee’s usual number of hours of work either per week or per day.

Intermittent Leave:

Leave resulting from an employee’s own single illness or injury, or that of a child, spouse, parent or parent-in-law which is taken in separate blocks of time rather than for one continuous period of time. Such leave may include periods of one hour or more to several weeks.

Year:

Defined as a 12-month period measured forward from the date the employee commences a leave.

Intermittent or Reduced Schedule Leave:

Intermittent or reduced schedule leave can be taken when medically necessary in the case of an employee’s own serious health condition or that of a family member. Employees requesting intermittent leave must make a reasonable effort to schedule appointments and arrange for treatment at times that will least conflict with workplace responsibilities. Leave taken for the birth or placement of a child generally may not be taken intermittently or on a reduced leave schedule unless the College agrees to such an arrangement.

The College may require an employee who has requested foreseeable intermittent or reduced schedule leave because of planned medical treatment to transfer temporarily to an alternative position if available, providing:

1.
The employee is qualified for the alternative position;
2.
The position has equivalent pay and benefits; and
3.
The alternative position can better accommodate recurring periods of leave than the employee’s regular position.

By taking leave intermittently or on a reduced leave schedule, an employee does not reduce total leave entitlement beyond the amount of leave actually taken.

Certification

Written certification from a licensed healthcare provider is required to support an employee’s leave request which is initiated as a result of a serious health condition (form WH 380-E or WH 380-F). Such certification, which will be held in strict confidence, must include a statement outlining:

1.
The date the condition began;
2.
Its probable duration;
3.
Appropriate medical facts; and
4.
An assertion that the employee is unable to perform the essential functions of the job; or
5.
That the employee is needed to care for a sick family member for a specified period of time.

The healthcare provider’s completed certification form must be submitted to Human Resources no later than 15 calendar days following the absence from work. The College reserves the right to withhold payment of salary or leave benefits if the employee fails to properly request a leave of absence and/or to provide necessary documentation in timely fashion.

The College also reserves the right, at its own expense, to require certification from a provider of its choice, and, in the event of a difference of opinion, to refer the matter to a third provider for a final resolution. Additionally, medical certification is required to affirm an employee’s fitness to return to work from medical leave. Also, during any kind of approved leave, the College may request a status report from the physician or other qualified professional caregiver.

Employment and Benefits Protection

Upon the expiration of any approved leave of absence, the employee will be entitled to return to the original job from which the leave was provided, or, if not available, to an equivalent position with equivalent pay. However, in the case of medical leave, if the employee is medically unable to satisfy the essential functions of the original job, the employee will be transferred to a position suitable to his or her physical condition where such work is available. Such employment will be compensated according to the prevailing salary range for the new position.

Employee Responsibility

An eligible employee must notify his or her Supervisor or Department Head and Human Resources a minimum of 30 days prior to commencement of the leave whenever possible. Such notification should be in writing on a leave of absence form. In unforeseen circumstances, such as in the case of premature birth, unpredictable changes in a patient’s condition, or the sudden availability of a child for placement, the employee is required to give as much notice as possible. Employees must provide sufficient information for the College to determine if the leave qualifies for FMLA protection and the anticipated timing and duration of the leave.

Supervisor Responsibilities

Upon notification of an employee’s request for a leave of absence, the Department Head/Supervisor must immediately notify the office of Human Resources.

It is the responsibility of the Department Head/Supervisor to communicate with the employee during the leave, to obtain proper documentation authorizing the employee’s return to work, and to work with Human Resources to submit timesheets or approve electronic leave reports on the employee’s behalf for each pay period during the leave.

Upon an employee’s return from a leave of absence, the Department Head/Supervisor must notify Human Resources immediately so that requisite paperwork can be completed.

Employer Responsibilities:

The College must inform employees requesting leave whether or not they are eligible under FMLA. If they are, the notice must specify any additional information required, as well as the employees’ right and responsibilities. If they are not eligible, the employer must provide a reason for the ineligibility.

The College must inform employees if leave will be designated as FMLA-protected and the amount of leave counted against the employee’s leave entitlement. If the College determines that the leave is not FMLA-protected, the employer must notify the employee.

Leave for Victims of Family Violence

If an employee is a victim of family violence, the employee is permitted to take paid or unpaid (depending on benefit-eligible status and accrued leave available) leave during any calendar year in which such leave is reasonably necessary (1) to seek medical care or psychological or other counseling for physical or psychological injury or disability (2) to obtain services from a victim services organization, (3) to relocate due to such family violence, or (4) to participate in any civil or criminal proceeding related to or resulting from such family violence. Leave under this section is limited to twelve days during any calendar year. Leave under this section shall not affect any other leave provided under state or federal law.

If an employee’s need to use leave under this section is foreseeable, the College requires advance notice, not to exceed seven days prior to the date such leave is to begin, of the intention to use such leave. If an employee’s need for such leave is not foreseeable, the College requires an employee to give notice of such intention as soon as practicable.

The College may request an employee who takes leave pursuant to this section to provide a signed written statement certifying that the leave is for a purpose authorized under this section. The College may also request that the employee provide a police or court record related to the family violence or a signed written statement that the employee is a victim of family violence from an employee or agent of a victim services organization, an attorney, an employee of the Judicial Branch’s Office of Victim Services or the Office of the Victim Advocate, or a licensed medical professional or other licensed professional from whom the employee has sought assistance with respect to the family violence.

Any written statement or police or court record provided to the College shall be maintained as confidential and shall not be further disclosed by the College except as required by federal or state law or as necessary to protect the employee’s safety in the workplace, provided the employee is given notice prior to the disclosure.

Military Family Leave Entitlements:

The FMLA was amended by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 to add two special military family leave entitlements: (1) to permit an eligible employee who is the spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin of a current servicemember with a serious injury or illness incurred in the line of duty on active duty to take up to 26 workweeks of FMLA leave during a single 12-month period to care for the servicemember (military caregiver leave); and (2) to allow an eligible employee whose spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a member of the National Guard or Reserves to take up to 12 workweeks of leave for qualifying exigencies arising out of the military member’s active duty or call to active duty in support of a contingency operation (qualifying exigency leave).

The FY 2010 NDAA expanded the military caregiver leave provisions to entitle an eligible employee to take leave to care for certain veterans with a serious injury or illness incurred or aggravated in the line of duty on active duty and that manifested before or after the veteran left active duty, and to allow military caregiver leave for current servicemembers with serious injuries or illnesses that existed prior to service and that were aggravated by service in the line of duty on active duty. The FY 2010 NDAA also expanded the qualifying exigency leave provisions to entitle an eligible employee whose spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a member of the Regular Armed Forces to take qualifying exigency leave, and added a foreign deployment requirement for qualifying exigency leave for all military members (National Guard, Reserves, and Regular Armed Forces).

The 26-workweek military caregiver leave provision includes leave to care for covered veterans who are undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy for a serious injury or illness incurred or aggravated in the line of duty on active duty and that manifested before or after the veteran left active duty.

Definition of a covered veteran. A covered veteran is a veteran who has been discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable within the five-year period preceding the date the employee first takes military caregiver leave to care for the veteran.

Definition of a serious injury or illness of a covered veteran. A serious injury or illness of a covered veteran Is an injury or illness that was incurred by the veteran in the line of duty on active duty or that existed before the beginning of the veteran’s active duty and was aggravated by service in the line of duty on active duty, and that manifested itself before or after becoming a veteran, and is either: (1) a continuation of a serious injury or illness that was incurred or aggravated when the veteran was a member of the Armed Forces and rendered the servicemember unable to perform the duties of his or her office, grade, rank, or rating; or (2) a physical or mental condition for which the veteran has received a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Service-Related Disability Rating (VASRD) of 50 percent or greater, and the need for military caregiver leave is related to that condition; or (3) a physical or mental condition that substantially impairs the veteran’s ability to work because of a disability or disabilities related to military service, or would do so absent treatment; or (4) an injury, including a psychological injury, on the basis of which the veteran is enrolled in the Department of Veterans Affairs Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers. The family member of a veteran only needs to show that the veteran meets one of these definitions to establish that the veteran has a serious injury or illness.

Pre-existing injuries or illnesses aggravated in the line of duty on active duty. Military caregiver leave covers current servicemembers with serious injuries or illnesses that existed before the servicemember’s active duty but were aggravated by service in the line of duty.

Health care providers authorized to certify a current servicemember’s or veteran’s serious injury or illness. The list of health care providers who can provide a medical certification to support FMLA military caregiver leave for current servicemembers and covered veterans includes health care providers who are not affiliated with the military. If a medical certification is obtained from a non-military affiliated health care provider, the employer may request a second (or third) opinion from the employee. Health care certifications obtained from health care providers associated with the military may not be subject to second and third opinions.

Qualifying exigency leave for employees with family members in the Regular Armed Forces. The qualifying exigency leave entitlement extends to employees whose spouse, son, daughter, or parent serve in the Regular Armed Forces.

Foreign deployment requirement. Foreign country deployment is required for qualifying exigency leave. Deployment to a foreign country is defined as deployment to areas outside of the United States, the District of Columbia, or any Territory or possession of the U.S. Deployment to a foreign country includes deployment to international waters.

Other military caregiver leave benefits:

See the following policies for additional relevant information:

7.03 Sick Leave 191

7.11 Pay During Approved Leaves of Absence 218

7.12 Short-Term Disability 223

Section 8.00 Insured Benefits for information on individual benefit plans