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What is the Family and Medical Leave Act?
Effective August 5, 1993, the act provides for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for employees who meet eligibility requirements who need to care for family members. The purpose of the Family and Medical Leave Act is to balance the needs of families with the demands of the workplace.
Detailed information for Omaha Public Schools employees can be found in Policy and Regulations of the Omaha Public Schools section 4.35. An overview is contained in this pamphlet. Contact Omaha Public Schools department of Human Resources at 557-2300 if you have specific questions concerning the unpaid Family and Medical Leave.
Who is eligible?
Any employee with 12 months or more service who worked 1,250 hours or more in the immediately preceding 12 months is eligible for a Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) leave for any of the following four purposes:
1. For the birth of a child and to care for a newborn child during the first twelve months after birth;
2. For placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care during the first twelve months after placement;
3. To care for the employee’s spouse, child or parent with a serious health condition or
4. Because of a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the functions of the employee’s job.
What is the length of leave?
An employee’s cumulative absences under this Policy may not exceed 12 weeks in any 12-month period. The 12-month period shall be measured backward from the date the employee uses FMLA leave. If the employee’s spouse also works for the Omaha Public Schools, their combined FMLA leave for any purpose other than their own serious health condition or that of a child or spouse shall be limited to 12 weeks in the 12-month period.
FMLA lave may be taken on an intermittent or reduced schedule basis only when the leave is medically necessary for an employee’s own serious health condition or to care for the employee’s spouse, child or parent with a serious health condition.
What is the employee’s pay status while on leave?
FMLA leave is unpaid leave. If a paid leave pursuant to the Policies and Regulations of the Omaha Public Schools is also available to the employee, the employee may choose whether to take such a paid leave or unpaid FMLA leave. If the employee chooses to take such a paid leave, the time taken off from work on the paid leave does not count as FMLA leave for determining how much FMLA leave the employee has used during the 12-month period. Use of unpaid FMLA leave does not reduce the paid leave otherwise available to the employee under the Policies and Regulations of the Omaha Public Schools.
May an employee be transferred to an alternative position?
If an employee (whether instructional or non instructional) requests intermittent leave or leave on a reduced leave schedule that is foreseeable based on planned medical treatment, the Department of Human Resources may require the employee to transfer to an available alternative position for which the employee is qualified and which better accommodates recurring periods of leave than does the employee’s regular position. Any such alternative position must have equivalent pay and benefits. The employee may also be transferred to a part-time job with the same hourly rate of pay and benefits, provided the employee is not required to take more leave than is medically necessary.
If an instructional employee requests intermittent leave or leave on a reduced leave schedule that is foreseeable based on planned medical treatment, and the employee would be on leave for more than 20 percent of the total number of working days over the period the leave would extend, the Department of Human Resources may require the employee to choose either to:
1. Take leave for a period or periods of a particular duration, not greater than the duration of the planned treatment or
2. Transfer temporarily to an available alternative position for which the employee is qualified, which has equivalent pay and benefits and which better accommodates recurring periods of leave than does the employee’s regular position.
What happens upon the employee’s return to work?
Upon return to work the employee will be restored to the employee’s prior position, or to an equivalent position with equivalent benefits, pay and other terms and conditions of employment, unless the employment would have ended even if the employee had not been on leave.
If an instructional employee requests FMLA leave and intends to return to work during the last three weeks of the semester, the Department of Human Resources may require the employee to continue taking leave to the end of the semester as provided for in the FMLA regulations.
How does the employee give notice of their intent to take FMLA leave ?
An employee requesting an FMLA leave must, as soon as practicable, notify the Department of Human Resources of such request, in writing on forms available from the Department. If the need for the FMLA leave is foreseeable, the employee must provide written notice at least 30 days in advance of the beginning of the leave.
When planning medical treatment the employee should consult with his or her immediate supervisor and make a reasonable effort to schedule the leave so as not to disrupt unduly the operations of the Omaha Public Schools.
What medical certification is needed for FMLA leave?
An employee requesting FMLA leave due to the serious health condition of the employee, or the employee’s spouse, child or parent, must provide to the Department of Human Resources on forms available from the Department, medical certification from a health care provider selected by the employee. The Department of Human Resources may require additional medical certification at the expense of the Omaha Public Schools as provided for in the FMLA if is has reason to doubt the medical certification provided by the employee. If such a FMLA leave is foreseeable, the employee must return the completed medical certification form to the Department within 15 calendar days of acquiring the FMLA leave request forms from the Department unless it is not practicable under the particular circumstances to do so despite the employee’s diligent, good faith efforts. If such a FMLA leave is not foreseeable, the employee must return the completed medical certification form to the Department as soon as practicable. Failure to provide adequate certification will result in denial of FMLA leave. Failure, after notification of denial of FMLA leave, to continue working or to return to work could result in termination of employment for job abandonment. Where the need for medical certification is due to the employee’s own serious health condition, the employee must provide a copy of the employee’s official job description to the health care provider making the medical certification. Copies of employee job descriptions will be provided by the Department to each employee seeking a FMLA leave due to the employee’s own serious health condition.
What medical certification is necessary to resume work?
Every employee on a FMLA leave due to the employee’s serious health condition shall provide to the Department of Human Resources a medical certification from a health care provider that the employee is able to resume work. Such medical certification shall be on a form available from the Department and shall be completed and returned to the Department before the employee may return to work.
What about Health and Life Insurance during FMLA leave?
While the employee is on FMLA leave, the employee’s group health insurance will remain in effect on the same basis as if the employee were not on leave, provided the employee makes timely payment of the employee’s share, if any, of the premiums. If the employee fails to make payment for his or her share of the cost of family health insurance coverage, the coverage on the employee himself or herself will nonetheless continue at Omaha Public Schools expense. Only the coverage on the employee’s dependents will stop. If the employee makes timely payment of the premiums, the Omaha Public Schools will also continue both the basic group life insurance otherwise provided by the Omaha Public schools and any supplemental group life insurance purchased by the employee pursuant to Section 5.40 of the Policies and Regulations of the Omaha Public Schools. Failure by the employee to make life insurance premium payments will cause the employee to be uninsured during a portion of the leave period. During the FMLA leave, the Omaha Public Schools will continue to pay the employer’s share of the health insurance premiums which are otherwise the obligation of the employee and payment for both basic and supplemental group life insurance premiums must be delivered to the office of the Secretary of the Board of Education by the first work day of each month the employee is on FMLA leave.
What about employee benefits while on FMLA leave?
No seniority or benefits based on length of service will accrue during the FMLA leave. No benefits other than health insurance or life insurance shall be maintained during the FMLA leave.
What if the employee does not return to work after FMLA leave?
If the employee fails to return to work for at least 30 days at the end of the FMLA leave, the employee must repay to the Omaha Public Schools 100% of all the health or life insurance premiums, if any, paid by the Omaha Public Schools during the unpaid portion of the FMLA leave. The only exception is where the failure to return to work is due to continued medical inability to work or other circumstances beyond the employee’s control. If the employee claims he or she is not able to return to work because of continued medical problems, the employee must provide medical certification of his or her condition from a health care provider to the Department of Human Resources on a form available from the Department. Failure to return to work promptly at the end of a FMLA leave will be considered a resignation.
All terms used in the policy shall be defined as provided for in the FMLA and the regulations issued by the Department of Labor pursuant to the FMLA. Certain key terms are also defined as follows:
"Child" is defined as a biological, adopted or foster child, a stepchild, a legal ward, or a child of a person with day-to-day responsibilities to care for and financially support the child. The "child" must be either under age 18, or age 18 or older and incapable of daily self-care because of a mental or physical disability.
"Foster Care" is defined as 24-hour care for children in substitution for, and away from, their parents or guardian in accordance with an agreement with the state.
"Health Care Provider" for purposes of medical certification shall include only doctors of medicine or osteopathy, podiatrists, chiropractors, state-authorized nurse practitioners and nurse-midwives, and Christian Science practitioners listed with the First Church of Christ Scientist in Boston, Massachusetts.
"Instructional Employee" is an employee employed principally in as instructional capacity whose principal function is to teach and instruct students in a class, a small group or an individual setting. The term includes athletic coaches, driving instructors and special education assistants such as signers for the hearing impaired. The term does not include paraprofessionals or aides who do not have as their principal function actual teaching or instructing. It also does not include auxiliary personnel such as counselors, psychologist, curriculum specialists, cafeteria workers, maintenance workers, bus drivers, or other primarily non instructional employees.
"Parent" is defined as a biological parent of an individual who had day-to-day responsibilities to care for the employee when the employee was a child. A parent "in-law" is not considered a "parent" for purposes of the FMLA.
"Serious Health Condition" is defined as an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that (1) involves inpatient care; (2) requires absence from work, school, or other regular daily activities of more than three calendar days and requires continuing treatment by a health care provider; (3) requires continuing treatment be a health care provider for a chronic or long-term health condition that is incurable or so serious that, if not treated, would likely result in a period of incapacity or more than three calendar days; or (4) for prenatal care.
"Spouse" is defined as a husband or wife as recognized under Nebraska law.