802.0804 LEAVE/FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE (FMLA)
Georgia Perimeter College understands the importance of family issues to today's work force. The College also recognizes that more of its employees than ever before face conflicting demands of family obligations and work. Because employees may find it necessary to take leave from their jobs for a temporary period to address certain family responsibilities or their own serious health conditions, and in order to comply with the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA), Georgia Perimeter College hereby establishes its Family and Medical Leave Policy.
The College will grant an eligible employee leave for up to 12 work weeks during a 12- month period, if the procedures in this policy are followed and leave is requested for any of the following reasons:
1. The birth or adoption of a child, or the foster care placement of a child;
2. To care for a “family member” of the employee if that individual has a serious health condition; or
3. A serious health condition of the employee that renders the employee unable to perform his or her job functions.
Employees are limited to a maximum of 12 weeks of paid or unpaid leave for any of these purposes. If an employee is eligible to use accumulated sick leave, the employee may do so inclusive of the 12 weeks of family and medical leave. The employee may also utilize any accrued annual leave with the approval of the supervisor, inclusive of the 12 weeks of family leave. If the leave is for birth, adoption, or foster care placement, the leave must be completed within 12 months of the date of birth or placement. An employee may take unpaid family and medical leave before he/she has exhausted paid annual leave. The use of paid leave in conjunction with unpaid FMLA leave must be approved at the time the FMLA leave is approved.
B. The 12-Month Period
The 12-month period will begin with the day the family and medical leave begins. During the subsequent 12-month period the employee will be eligible to use up to 12 workweeks of family and medical leave for the purposes described above.
C. Spousal Exception
If a husband and wife both work for the College, and are eligible for leave, they are only entitled to a combined 12 workweeks of leave taken for birth, adoption, foster care, and to care for a parent or a spouse's parent. The 12 weeks will be calculated in the same manner as leave for an individual employee.
D. Georgia State Law
Some employees are covered by Georgia state leave laws that are different than the federal FMLA. The College will comply with both laws. Where Georgia state law is more liberal, the College will adhere to the provisions of that law.
E. Intermittent Leave
An employee taking unpaid leave for personal illness or to care for a sick family member need not take such leave continuously and may take it on an intermittent basis, or by reducing the employee's scheduled work hours, if the employee provides certification from the health care provider caring for the employee and/or family members that leave must be taken in that manner. If unpaid leave is not taken continuously, it will be deducted from the employee's entitlement to leave, in increments of one hour.
F. Part-time after Birth, Adoption, or Foster Care Placement Requests for intermittent or reduced schedule (part-time) leave after the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a child will be considered on a case-by-case basis. These arrangements will be subject to the ability of the employee's supervisor and the administration to ensure that work is completed through scheduling changes or job-sharing; and subject to the employee's consent to alter schedules or work longer hours on an emergency basis, such as when other employees are out sick.
The College reserves the right to refuse leaves, or to cancel any such arrangement on 30 days notice, if the College concludes that the needs of the business require the employee's presence on a full-time basis.
"Family member" is defined in the policy to include the employee's spouse, son, daughter, parent. A "son" or "daughter" is any child under 18 who is the biological child of the employee, who is adopted by the employee, or whom the employee supervises on a day to day basis and for whom the employee is financially responsible. A "son" or "daughter" is also a child over 18 who is incapable of self-care because of a mental or physical disability. A parent is any individual who assumed day to day and financial responsibility for the employee when the employee was a child.
The College will not permit leave under this policy to care for individuals who are not “family members.”
"Serious health condition" is defined as an illness, injury, impairment or physical or mental condition that involves the following: 1) a period of incapacity or treatment following inpatient care in a hospital, hospice, or residential medical care facility; a period of incapacity requiring more than three days absence from work and continuing treatment by a health care provider; 2) continuing treatment by a health care provider for a chronic or long-term health condition that is so serious that, if not treated would likely result in incapacity of more than three days 3) or continuing treatment by or under the supervision of a health care provider of a chronic or long-term condition or disability that is incurable or 4) pre-natal care.
A "health care provider" is any doctor of medicine or osteopathy, podiatrist, optometrist, and nurse practitioner, or nurse midwife performing within the scope of their practice as defined under state law. Christian Science practitioners and chiropractors are health care providers to the extent defined under regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Labor.
1. An employee is eligible if the employee been employed for at least 12 months (or 52 weeks) by the College, and has worked at least 1250 hours during the 12-month period prior to the time leave would begin under this policy. The College will make the determination at the time of the leave request.
2. Hours are calculated based upon actual hours for which the employee was paid, including overtime.
The College will use its records and hours paid for all hourly employees. In the case of exempt employees, the Co1lege will assume that any employee employed full-time for seven and one-half month's meets the 1250 hours requirement. Exempt employees who have 12 months' prior service, but less than seven and one-half month's full-time continuous service at the time leave is requested, should include documentation of hours worked with their request.
Employees who work at any location which does not employ 50 employees, and where there are fewer than 50 employees within 75 miles, will not be eligible for family or medical leave, unless state law requires otherwise.
All requests for family or medical leave should ordinarily be initiated, in writing, by contacting your immediate supervisor and the Human Resources Department. This will assist the College in working out appropriate schedules. If for any reason you do not wish to inform your supervisor of the reason for the leave, or if you have any questions about your supervisor's response, please contact the Human Resources Departmnt.
2. Foreseeable Leaves
If the need for family or medical leave is foreseeable, the employee must provide notice to the College in a reasonable and practicable manner. Leave may be denied if notice is unreasonably delayed. If leave is denied for lack of notice, the employee may designate leave to start 10 days after notice is given.
If the leave is for the planned medical treatment of the employee or a family member, or requires intermittent or reduced schedule leave, employees may be required by their supervisor to arrange a particular schedule or to reschedule appointments or treatments, subject to consent of the health care provider.
4. Unforeseeable Leaves
If the need for family or medical leave is not foreseeable, notice must be given by the employee as soon as possible and practicable. Employees are expected to promptly notify their supervisor and the Human Resources Department as soon as they learn of the need for leave. [Except in the case of extreme medical emergencies, employees are expected to call to advise their supervisor as soon as they know of the need for and expected duration of leave.] In emergencies, the employee or a family member should contact the Human Resources Department to give the same information by telephone. Requests for leave should then be submitted in writing as soon as practicable. Absent good cause or medical emergencies, written requests for leave should be submitted within three (3) business days after oral request is made.
Except for medical emergencies, failure to call or notify a supervisor prior to a scheduled work day may be treated as an unexcused absence.
5. Additional Information
After receiving a request for leave, the Human Resources Department will provide additional information regarding the procedures for obtaining leave, including any additional documents that may be required.
1. Medical Certification
The Employer may require proof of necessity for family or medical leave by a health care provider on forms provided by the Human Resources Department. The information required shall include:
¨ the date on which the serious health condition commenced;
¨ the probable duration of the condition;
¨ appropriate sufficient medical facts within the knowledge of the health care provider that would entitle the employee to take family or medical leave;
¨ an estimate of the amount of time that the employee is needed to care for a family member, or a statement that the employee is unable to perform the functions of the position of the employee; and
¨ in cases of medical leave, an explanation of the extent to which the employee is unable to perform the function of the employee's position.
Certifications must be submitted within 15 working days of the date requested by the Human Resources Department.
2. Second Opinions
The College has the option of requiring the employee to get a second opinion from an independent medical provider selected by the College. The College will pay for the second opinion. If the two opinions conflict, the conflict may be resolved by a third opinion by a provider agreed to by the College and the employee which shall be considered final and binding. The College will pay for the third opinion.
C. Leave is Contingent on Eligibility
All employee requests for FMLA leave are contingent upon a determination by the College that the employee is eligible for FMLA leave. This includes a determination of eligibility and provision of medical certification. Leave is also contingent on any second or third opinions that may be required. Because these procedures may take time, it is possible that a determination may not be made until after the employee is on leave or has returned to work.
D. Transfer to Alternative Position
In all cases of intermittent and reduced schedule leaves, the College reserves the right to require the employee to transfer to another position that better accommodates the employee’s need for leave and/or the College's operations. This decision is at the sole discretion of the College.
The College will keep confidential all information relating to requests for family or medical leave. This information will be used only to make decisions in regard to the provisions of this policy. Supervisors must submit all records to the Human Resources Department and should not retain any copies in their files.
Family leave shall be paid or unpaid leave. If an employee is eligible to use accumulated sick leave the employee may do so inclusive of the 12 weeks of family and medical leave. The employee may also utilize any accrued annual leave with the approval of the supervisor, inclusive of the 12 weeks of family and medical leave. An employee may take unpaid FMLA leave before he/she has exhausted paid annual leave. The use of paid sick and annual leave in conjunction with unpaid FMLA leave must be approved at the time the FMLA leave is approved.
Leave will be unpaid leave except as provided in this section. Exempt employees will have their pay docked on a pro-rata basis if they take FMLA-qualifying leave and the total number of hours worked is less than the average number of hours worked the prior 20 weeks in accordance with the provisions of the FLSA.
Unpaid FMLA leave shall be treated the same as other unpaid leaves as far as merit pay, promotion and tenure are concerned.
Faculty members who are on unpaid FMLA leave for a semester or longer will not receive merit pay for the time they are on leave. Cost-of-living increases will not be affected and generally will be awarded to those on FMLA leave. (Consistent with Faculty Handbook Determination of Salary Increases)
For promotion purposes full-time college teaching experience is defined as teaching an entire academic year on a yearly contract. An employee who takes unpaid FMLA leave during an academic year will not have taught an entire academic year. A year during which an employee takes an unpaid FMLA leave will not be considered an entire academic year for promotion purposes. (Consistent with Georgia Perimeter College Minimum Criteria for Promotion Georgia Perimeter College Administrative Procedures Manual 803.0806)
The term "full-time" is used in tenure regulations to denote service on a one hundred percent workload basis for the academic year. An employee who takes unpaid FMLA leave during a part of the academic year will not have worked on a hundred percent workload basis for that time period. A year during which an employee takes an unpaid FMLA leave during a part of the academic year will not be considered full-time service for tenure purposes. (Consistent with Board of Regents' Policy on Tenure -Regents Policy Manual, 803.09)
A. Health Benefits
During the leave, the College will maintain the employee's coverage for health benefits as follows: the employee is required to continue to pay the employee's portion of any health insurance premiums normally deducted from the employee's paycheck and shall pay such amounts by tendering a check payable to Georgia Perimeter College.
If the employee fails to make the required payments, the College may decide at its sole discretion to continue coverage. If this is done, under most circumstances, the College will have a right to recover these amounts. You will be notified whether coverage will be continued.
All amounts due the College because of the unpaid health premiums provided during leave will be deducted from the employee's pay upon return.
B. Other Benefits
Other benefits normally provided to an employee shall be provided to the employee only if permitted by the plan document governing the provision of benefits, in accordance with the provisions of the written document, and the employee makes any required co-payments or premiums. In accordance with existing College policies on unpaid leave, employees will not earn any vacation or sick leave while on unpaid FMLA leave. Employees on an intermittent or reduced-schedule leave will earn vacation and sick leave on a pro-rata basis.
The College has the right, upon the employee's return from leave, to refuse to reinstate any benefit or condition of employment that has been discontinued for all of the College's employees.
An employee taking leave under this policy will be returned to the employee's same position or to an equivalent position, at the election of the College unless the employee would have been terminated in the absence of any leave (e.g., layoff, downsizing, or termination of a temporary job). Taking of leave will not result in any loss. of benefits or conditions of employment accrued prior to the beginning of the leave period, except that if the employee is unable to use vacation time because of policy restriction (e.g., the employee returns after the end of the calendar year and has greater than 360 hours vacation).
B. Fitness-For-Duty Examinations
The College will require a fitness-for-duty certification prior to restoration for employees absent from work for more than five working days and where there is any question regarding the employees ability to safely perform the job.
[The College reserves the right to make additional medical inquiries and/or require follow-up examinations, at its expense; to ensure that employees can safely perform all the functions of the job. These medical inquiries will be conducted in accordance with the College's policy with regard to the Americans with Disabilities Act.]
If an employee has gross income that is within the top 10% of the College's employees within 75 miles of the employee's work site during the calendar year in which leave is taken, the College reserves the right not to restore the employee to his or her prior position with the College if the College will suffer substantial and grievous harm because of the restoration. At the time that leave is granted under this policy, the College will inform the employee that the employee is within the top 10% and also explain the possible consequence that restoration may be denied.
If the College determines during the employee's leave that the employee is not to be restored to employment, the employee will be notified immediately and given the opportunity to return from leave and be restored to his or her position. If the employee does not return from leave, the employee can petition for reinstatement at the end of the leave period and will be notified, by certified mail, whether the employee will not be restored because doing so would cause the College substantial and grievous harm.
Employees on leave are required to periodically report on their status and intent to return. During leave, the College also may require that an employee re-certify the medical condition that caused the employee to take leave when the College obtains information that casts doubt on the continuing validity of the employee's original certification, when the employee requests an extension of leave or when circumstances have changed.
When an employee notifies the College that he or she is not returning from leave, the Human Resources Department shall terminate the employee's health benefits and he or she shall no longer have a right to restoration to the same or equivalent position. The employee shall be entitled to continuation of health benefits only in accordance with the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act ("COBRA") and the provisions of the health plan.
Employees who return to work will meet with the Human Resources Department to work out an appropriate repayment schedule for any employee premiums or co-payments made by the College during leave.
Upon receiving notice that the employee is not returning to employment with the College, or should the employee simply fail to return or return to employment with the College for less than 30 days after leave has ended, the employee shall owe the College the cost of any benefits provided during leave, including both the employer and any employee premiums and co-payments for health benefits. No such amount shall be owed if there is a recurrence or onset of a serious health condition, or in the opinion of the College, there is a change of circumstances beyond the employee's control. The benefits of a key employee who is not restored shall not be terminated prior to the end of leave and the employee shall not be responsible to the College for such benefits other than the normal employee contribution.
If an employee does not return to work under circumstances where repayment can be required, the employee must repay all premiums within 60 days after receiving notice from the College of the amount owed.
Employees who fail to return to work after FMLA leave shall be treated as having voluntarily terminated their employment.
Georgia Perimeter College is the sole administrator of this policy and, as such, is the exclusive interpreter of its terms. All provisions of this policy shall be interpreted consistent with the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993.
The College reserves the right to modify or terminate this policy at any time.
This policy does not create any employment rights to any individual other than specifically stated in the policy.
Except as otherwise stated, this policy is not intended to create any rights greater than that conferred on employees by the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993.
If Georgia state laws are more generous than FMLA, Georgia Perimeter College will
comply with those laws.
Employees and the College have various rights and obligations under FMLA. For further information, contact the Human Resources Department.