The Family and Medical Leave Act

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides employees up to twelve weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave during a twelve-month “rolling” period for certain family and medical reasons. 

In most cases, Amherst College leave policies for faculty equal or exceed FMLA provisions and will be deemed to run concurrently with the leave available under FMLA.  Faculty should review the Amherst leave policies carefully.  At no time will FMLA be used to limit already existing rights and protections provided under any other statutory provisions.

The twelve-month period is measured backward from the date an employee uses any FMLA leave.  To be eligible, an employee must have worked at the College for at least twelve months and for at least 1,250 hours during the twelve months prior to the leave.  Leave is available for birth or care of a newborn, for placement of a child for adoption or foster care, for the care of a spouse, son, daughter, or parent with a qualifying serious health condition; or in the event of a qualifying serious health condition that prevents the employee from working.  In addition, the National Defense Authorization Act for 2008 provides up to twenty-six weeks of FMLA leave in a single twelve-month period to care for a covered service member who is recovering from a serious illness or injury sustained in the line of duty on active duty.  The aggregate amount of FMLA time available in a twelve-month period cannot exceed twenty-six weeks.  The request for a foreseeable FMLA leave should be made to the Dean of the Faculty and Office of Human Resources.

An employee requesting FMLA Leave must provide at least thirty-days’ notice before the date the leave is to begin if the leave is foreseeable.  If at least thirty-days’ notice is not possible, the employee must provide notice as soon as practicable (which ordinarily means at least verbal notice within one or two business days of when the employee becomes aware of the need for leave).  The leave request must indicate that the employee is unable to perform the functions of the job, or that a covered family member is unable to participate in regular daily activities, the anticipated duration of the absence, and whether the employee (or family member) intends to visit a health care provider or is receiving continuing treatment.  Periodic recertification of extended leaves will be required.

If an employee is requesting FMLA Leave for his/her own serious health condition or to care for a child, spouse, service member, or parent with a serious health condition, the Certification of Health Care Provider form must be completed by the health care provider and returned to the Office of Human Resources within fifteen days to verify a qualifying serious health condition.  If an employee fails to provide the requested medical certification within the required time, or if the certification is incomplete and is not remedied, FMLA Leave may be delayed or denied. 

FMLA Leave may be taken intermittently; however, an employee who takes an intermittent leave may be required to transfer temporarily to another position with equivalent pay and benefits if that position better accommodates the recurring periods of leave.  An employee may also take the leave in the form of reduced hours, or reduced work days during the week, until the days off add up to twelve work weeks (twenty-six weeks for a service member).  Periodic recertification of extended leaves will be required.

In most cases, Amherst College leave policies for faculty equal or exceed FMLA provisions.  However, at no time will FMLA be used to limit already existing rights under College policies and protections provided under any other statutory provisions.

During FMLA Leave, the College will continue to provide health care coverage on the same basis as is normally provided.  If an employee contributes to his/her health care coverage, the employee is required to continue to make payments during the leave period.  If an employee does not return to work after FMLA Leave, the employee is responsible for repaying the cost of health benefits provided during the leave, unless the reason for not returning is due to a serious health condition or other circumstance beyond the employee’s control.

Any employee who takes approved FMLA Leave will be reinstated to the position held when the leave began or to an equivalent position with equivalent benefits, pay, status, and other terms and conditions of employment, unless a job elimination or other change in circumstance has occurred during the leave period.  Certain “key employees” (as defined under the FMLA) may be denied job restoration.

Any employee returning from FMLA Leave which is taken for the employee’s own serious health condition must obtain and provide the College with certification from the employee’s health care provider, indicating that the employee is able to resume work.

Specific details and requirements of FMLA are available in the Office of Human Resources.