Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

FMLA Leave

Under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993, you may be entitled to take up to 12-weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for any of the following qualifying reasons:

  • A serious health condition that makes you unable to perform the functions of your job.
  • The birth of a child and to bond with the newborn child within one year of birth. 
  • The placement of a child for adoption or foster care, and to bond with the newly placed child within one year of placement.
  • To care for your spouse, child (including biological, adopted, foster, step, legal wards, and children for whom you stand in loco parentis), or parent who has a serious health condition.
  • Any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that your spouse, child, or parent is a military member on covered active duty.
  • To care for a service member with a a serious injury or illness if the employee is the spouse, child, parent, or next of kin of the service member.

Eligibility for FMLA Leave

In addition to having a qualifying reason, you must also meet the following eligibility criteria to take FMLA leave:

  • You must have worked for the university or another State of Texas agency for at least 12 months; and
  • You must have worked at least 1,250 hours in the 12-month period immediately preceding the leave.

Duration of FMLA Leave

If eligible, you may take up to 12 weeks of FMLA leave (26 weeks for military caregiver leave) during a "rolling" 12-month period.  Your 12-weeks will begin on the date that your Family and Medical Leave begins, and will exclude weekends and holidays.

Requesting FMLA Leave

To request FMLA, you must complete an Employee Request for Family and Medical Leave (Online) 30 to 45 days days prior to the date you need your leave to begin. If you are unable to complete your request at least 30 days prior, then please submit it as soon as is practicable. If you are unexpectedly absent for three or more days, then your department may also submit this request on your behalf.

Once the request is submitted, Human Resources - Benefits and Leave Management (Benefits and Leave) will send you a Notice of Eligibility and Rights and Responsibilities, and copy your supervisor and HR contact. Please be sure to read this notice in its entirety, and pay special attention to the section labeled Actions Required. The U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division, mandates that employers designate time off as FMLA-qualifying if the employee is eligible, and the time off is for an FMLA qualifying reason. Completing the actions required will assist the university in complying with this mandate. 

Once you receive your Notice of Eligibility and Rights and Responsibilities, please complete the following within 15 calendar days: 

  • Ensure your timesheets are complete and up to date.
  • Review the list of FMLA qualifying reasons above. 
    • If your need for time off is not for one of the qualifying reasons, then you do not need to complete the remainder of this process. You will receive an FMLA denial notice after 15 calendar days.  This notice is to inform both you and your department that the FMLA does not apply to your time off.
    • If your need for time off is for one of the qualifying reasons, then please complete the remainder of this process.
  • If you have not already done so, submit an Employee Request for Time Off Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
  • For serious health conditions, ask your or your family member’s healthcare provider to complete the appropriate Certification of Healthcare Provider (CHP) form.
  • For qualifying exigencies (when an immediate family member is called to military service), complete the Certification for Military Family Leave.
  • For Military Caregiver Leave, ask the servicemember or veteran's healthcare provider to complete the appropriate Certification for Military Caregiver Leave.
  • Review the Employee Rights notice.
    • If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Benefits Specialist listed on the Notice of Eligibility.

If these steps are not completed within 15 calendar days, then absent any extenuating circumstances, your FMLA will be denied, and your time off will not be federally job protected. Benefits and Leave will notify you, your supervisor, and your HR contact of the denial in writing.

If these steps are completed within 15 calendar days, then Benefits and Leave will review the certification submitted by your healthcare provider, and send you, your supervisor, and your HR contact a written FMLA Designation Notice that specifies whether your FMLA is approved or denied.  If your FMLA is approved, then the notice will also specify whether your award is continuous, intermittent, or reduced schedule.

Types of FMLA Leave

FMLA leave may be either continuous, intermittent, or on a reduced schedule basis.  In most instances, your or your family member's healthcare provider will specify which type of leave is needed when completing the certification form. 

Continuous

Continuous FMLA leave is taken in one continuous block of time.  While on continuous FMLA leave, you will not be expected to return to work until you no longer have a qualifying reason, or your FMLA leave has been exhausted, whichever comes first.

Intermittent

Intermittent FMLA leave is taken in separate, nonconsecutive blocks of time.  If your need for FMLA leave is intermittent, then the certification form will usually specify the frequency and duration (i.e. two hours per day, three days per week), and that need will be communicated to you, your supervisor, and your department's HR contact.  If you are absent more than the certification allows, your department will notify HR - Benefits and Leave Management, and we may ask you to provide an updated certification. While on intermittent FMLA leave, please keep the following in mind:

  • You must provide advanced notice of foreseeable absences, and make a reasonable effort to schedule those absences so that they do not disrupt your department's operations.
  • If your need for leave is not foreseeable, then you must follow your department's normal call in procedures.  If you are unable to do so, then you must notify your department as soon as is practicable. 
  • Barring any restrictions from your healthcare provider, while at work, you will be expected to perform the essential functions of your position.  If you will not be able to do so, talk to your or your family member's healthcare provider about the possibility of additional work restrictions, increasing the frequency and duration of your intermittent FMLA leave, or transitioning to reduced schedule or continuous FMLA leave.

Reduced Schedule

While on reduced schedule FMLA, your daily and weekly work hours may be reduced (i.e. you may only work 6 hours per day, 4 days per week).

Pay During FMLA Leave

If you are on FMLA for any reason other than a work related illness or injury, then you will be required to use your available paid time off accruals, including sick, vacation, holiday, and compensatory time, concurrently with your FMLA leave.  Please keep in mind that sick time off may only be used concurrently with FMLA leave if your need for leave is due to pregnancy, your own serious health condition, or the serious health condition of a parent or child.  For pregnancy, the ability to use sick time off is further constrained to the time necessary to attend prenatal appointments, for bed rest, and for the period of incapacity following birth.  Generally, the period of incapacity is six weeks following a vaginal birth or eight weeks following a cesarean, but it may be longer if complications arise.

If you are on FMLA leave due to a work related illness or injury, then you may choose whether to use your available paid time off accruals.  If you do, then you will be required to exhaust your available sick time, as well as any other time you elected to use before receiving income benefits. 

Once you have exhausted your available paid time off accruals, you will be placed on unpaid time off for the remainder of your FMLA leave.

If you have short and long-term disability Insurance, then you may file for disability benefits at any time prior to or during your FMLA leave.  If your claim is approved, then your short-term disability payments will begin 14 days after your date of disability, or once all of your available sick leave has been exhausted, whichever is longer.  Long-term disability benefits will begin 90 days after your date of disability or once your available sick leave has been exhausted, whichever is longer. 

Once your disability claim is approved, you may choose to freeze your remaining available paid time off, use it to supplement your disability and receive 100% of your pay, or use it in conjunction with your disability to receive 160% of your pay.  You must choose within 10 days from the date your disability claim is approved, and notify your both your supervisor and your department's HR Contact of your decision.  Choose carefully because you will not be able to change your election for the remainder of your disability.     

Insurance During FMLA Leave

While you are on paid FMLA leave, the university will continue to pay its portion of your health insurance, and you will continue to be responsible for paying your portion of your health insurance premiums.  If you transition to unpaid time off for a full calendar month or more, then you will have the option to continue all of your current insurance coverages; continue some of your optional coverages and suspend others; or suspend all of your optional insurance coverages.  You should receive a letter detailing your insurance options within ten days of beginning your unpaid time off.  If you do not, then please reach out to your respective Benefits Specialist or departmental human resources contact. 

Returning to Work

The FMLA guarantees that you will be able to return to work in the same position or an equivalent position as determined by the university.  To return to work from continuous FMLA due to your own serious health condition, you must provide a written return to work release to your supervisor. If you do not, then your department will send you home and you will not be able to return to work until you have done so.

If you will not be able to return to work at the end of your designated FMLA leave, then you must coordinate additional time off with your supervisor, Benefits and Leave, or the campus' Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Coordinator prior to the end of your designated FMLA leave.  Failure to do so may result in termination due to your inability to work.  Additional time off options may include the use of available paid time off accruals, sick leave donation, sick leave pool, additional FMLA, and unpaid time off. 

If your return to work will require any work related restrictions or limitations, you must notify your supervisor prior to your anticipated return to work date so that they may partner with your departmental human resources contact, Benefits and Leave, and the campus' ADA Coordinator, if necessary, to discuss accommodations.  If your department, in consultation with HR, Benefits and Leave, and the ADA Coordinator, determines that it cannot reasonably accommodate your restrictions or limitations, then you may be required to remain on leave for the duration of your limitations, or until your FMLA exhausts, whichever is sooner.