GCCAC - LRSD Board Policy

Published by jackbgarvey on Tue, 10/08/2013 - 16:01

LITTLE ROCK SCHOOL DISTRICT

NEPN CODE : GCCAC

 

FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE POLICY

The Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) provides eligible employees the opportunity to take unpaid, job-protected leave for certain specified reasons. The maximum amount of leave an employee may use is either 12 or 26 weeks within a 12-month period depending on the reasons for the leave. 

 

Employee Eligibility

To be eligible for FMLA leave, you must:

  1. have worked at least 12 months for the LRSD in the preceding seven years (limited exceptions apply to the seven-year requirement);
  2. have worked at least 1,250 hours for the LRSD over the preceding 12 months; and
  3. currently work at a location where there are at least 50 employees within 75 miles.

All periods of absence from work due to or necessitated by service in the uniformed services are counted in determining FMLA eligibility. 

 

Conditions Triggering Leave

FMLA leave may be taken for the following reasons:

  1. birth of a child, or to care for a newly-born child (up to 12 weeks);
  2. placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care (up to 12 weeks);
  3. to care for an immediate family member (employee’s spouse, child, or parent) with a serious health condition (up to 12 weeks);
  4. because of the employee’s serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the employee’s job (up to 12 weeks);
  5. to care for a covered service member with a serious injury or illness related to certain types of military service (up to 26 weeks) (see Military-Related FMLA Leave section for more details); or,
  6. to handle certain qualifying exigencies arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is on covered active duty or call to covered activity duty status in the Uniformed Services (up to 12 weeks) (see Military-Related FMLA Leave section for more details).

Eligible employees may take FMLA leave in a single block of time, intermittently (in separate blocks of time), or by reducing the normal work schedule when medically necessary for the serious health condition of the employee or immediate family member, or in the case of a covered service member, his or her injury or illness. Eligible employees may also take intermittent or reduced scheduled leave for military qualifying exigencies. Intermittent leave is not permitted for birth of a child, to care for a newly-born child, or for placement of a child for adoption or foster care. Employees who require intermittent or reduced schedule leave must try to schedule their leave so that it will not unduly disrupt the LRSD's operations.

The maximum amount of leave that may be taken in a 12-month period for all reasons combined is 12 weeks, with one exception. For leave to care for a covered service member, the maximum combined leave entitlement is 26 weeks.  Leaves for all other reasons may constitute no more than 12 of those 26 weeks. 

The LRSD measures the 12-month period in which leave is taken by the “rolling” 12-month method, measured backward from the date of any FMLA leave with one exception.  For leave to care for a covered service member, the LRSD calculates the 12-month period beginning on the first day the eligible employee takes FMLA leave to care for a covered service member and ends 12 months after that date. FMLA leave for the birth or placement of a child for adoption or foster care must be concluded within 12 months of the birth or placement.

 

Definitions

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 health care 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 includes an incapacity of more than three full calendar days and two visits to a health care provider or one visit to a health care provider and a continuing regimen of care; an incapacity caused by pregnancy or prenatal visits, a chronic condition, or permanent or long-term conditions; or absences due to multiple treatments. Other situations may meet the definition of continuing treatment. 

 

Special Rules for Instructional Employees

Who is an instructional employee?

The term instructional employee includes athletic coaches, driving instructors, and special education assistants -- as well as teachers. However, instructional employee does not include teacher assistants or aides (unless their actual job is teaching or instructing), counselors, psychologists, curriculum specialists, cafeteria workers, maintenance workers, or bus drivers.

 

If an instructional employee needs to take leave for medical treatment on an intermittent basis, and the instructional employee would be out for more than 20 percent of the time during the period of the intermittent leave (i.e. more than one day per week), the Little Rock School District may require that the instructional employee elect either to take the leave for periods of time not to exceed the duration of the planned medical treatment or transfer to a temporary position (with equal pay and benefits) which will allow the employer to better accommodate the recurring absences.

If the instructional employee does not give the required notice of at least thirty days for foreseeable leave to be taken intermittently or on a reduced leave schedule, the LRSD may require the instructional employee to: (a) take leave of a particular duration; (b) transfer temporarily to an alternate position; or (c) require the instructional employee to delay taking the leave until the notice requirement is met.

If an instructional employee needs to take family or medical leave near the end of the school term, the instructional employee must comply with one of three special rules listed below. The question of which rule applies depends on how close to the end of the term the leave will be taken:

1.         If the employee begins leave more than five weeks prior to the end of the academic term, the      school may require the employee to continue taking leave until the end of the term if: (1)          the leave is scheduled to last at least three weeks; and (2) the employee would not return    until sometime during the last three weeks of the school term.

2.         If the employee begins leave less than five weeks prior to the end of the academic term, the        employer may require the employee to continue taking leave until the end of the school        term if the scheduled leave is longer than two weeks and the employee would not return to           work until sometime during the last two weeks of the school term.

3.         If the employee begins leave less than three weeks prior to the end of the academic term,            and the scheduled leave is longer than five days, the school may require the employee to continue taking leave until the end of the term.

 

Procedures for Requesting Leave        

Unless the need for FMLA leave is unforeseeable, an employee requesting leave under this policy should submit the request in writing to his or her immediate supervisor. If the Little Rock School District becomes aware that a leave may qualify as an FMLA leave, but the employee has not requested FMLA leave for the absence, the District may request that the employee complete an application for FMLA leave so that the time may be properly designated.  An employee, who intends to take FMLA leave because of an expected birth or placement of a child, or a planned medical treatment, is expected to submit an application for leave at least 30 days prior to the date the leave is to begin.  If leave is to begin less than 30 days from the date the employee becomes aware of the need for the leave, he or she must give notice to his or her supervisor as soon as notice is possible.

The District will inform employees requesting leave of whether or not they are eligible for FMLA leave.  The employee will also be notified of rights and responsibilities under the FMLA.  If the employee is not eligible for FMLA leave, the District will provide reason for ineligibility.

Employees requesting leave must furnish Human Resources with sufficient information to determine whether the leave may qualify for FMLA protection and the anticipated timing and duration of the leave.  This may include the circumstances supporting a need for military family leave.  Employees must also inform Human Resources if the requested leave is for a reason for which FMLA leave was previously taken or certified.

If an employee takes any type of leave for a condition that progresses into a serious health condition as defined under this policy, the LRSD may retroactively designate all or some portion of related leave as FMLA leave to the extent the earlier leave meets the necessary qualifications.

 

Use of Accrued Paid Leave

FMLA leave will only be paid when it falls within the parameters of other LRSD paid leave policies.  An employee must exhaust accrued paid sick, vacation, or personal leave time, if the leave time is permitted under those separate policies,

Depending on the purpose of the leave request, an employee may choose or the LRSD may require the use of accrued paid leave (such as sick leave, vacation, or other paid leave.  In order to substitute paid leave for FMLA leave, an eligible employee must comply with the LRSD’s normal procedures for the applicable paid-leave policy (e.g., call-in procedures, advance notice, etc.). Employees are not entitled to any sick leave without loss of pay unless they have notified their supervisor. 

 

Benefits during FMLA Leave

Taking FMLA leave will not cause employees to lose any employment benefits accrued prior to the first day of leave. 

The LRSD will maintain employees’ insurance benefits while on FMLA leave, although employees will be required to pay their portion of the premium. If an employee is not on payroll, they must submit monthly insurance payment to the LRSD or forfeit their coverage. Any leave beyond 12 weeks, the employee will be responsible for the full amount (employer portion and employee portion) of insurance premiums (health, dental, and life). The payment for the insurance premiums will occur as a payroll deduction.

However, if an employee chooses not to return to work, for reasons other than a continued serious health condition, the LRSD may require the employee to reimburse the amount it paid for the employee’s insurance premiums during the FMLA leave. 

 

Notice and Medical Certification

When seeking FMLA leave, employees are required to provide: information to determine if the requested leave may qualify for FMLA protection and the anticipated timing and duration of the leave. Sufficient information may include the reason the employee is unable to perform job functions, a family member is unable to perform daily activities, the need for hospitalization or continuing treatment by a health care provider, or circumstances supporting the need for military family leave. The employee must also inform the LRSD if the requested leave is for a reason for which FMLA leave was previously taken or certified.

If the need for leave is foreseeable, this information must be provided 30 days in advance of the anticipated beginning date of the leave. If the need for leave is not foreseeable, this information must be provided as soon as is practicable and in compliance with the LRSD’s normal call-in procedures, absent unusual circumstances.

  1. Medical certification supporting the need for leave due to a serious health condition affecting you or an immediate family member within 15 calendar days of the LRSD’s request to provide the certification (additional time may be permitted in some circumstances). If you fail to do so, we may delay the commencement of your leave, withdraw any designation of FMLA leave, or deny the leave; in which case your leave of absence would be treated in accordance with our standard leave of absence and attendance policies, subjecting you to discipline up to and including termination. Second or third medical opinions and periodic re-certifications may also be required;
  2. Periodic reports as deemed appropriate during the leave regarding your status and intent to return to work; and
  3. Medical certification of fitness for duty before returning to work, if the leave was due to your serious health condition. The LRSD will require this certification to address whether you can perform the essential functions of your position. 

Failure to comply with the foregoing requirements may result in delay or denial of leave, or disciplinary action, up to and including, termination.

 

Employer Responsibilities

To the extent required by law, the District will inform employees whether they are eligible under the FMLA. Should an employee be eligible for FMLA leave, the District will provide him or her with a letter that specifies any additional information required as well as the employee’s rights and responsibilities. If employees are not eligible, the District will provide a reason for the ineligibility. The District will also inform employees if leave will be designated as FMLA-protected and, to the extent possible, note the amount of leave counted against the employee’s leave entitlement.

 

Job Restoration

Upon returning from FMLA leave, eligible employees will typically be restored to their original job or to an equivalent job with equivalent pay, benefits, and other employment terms and conditions.

 

Failure to Return after FMLA Leave

Any employee who fails to return to work as scheduled after FMLA leave or exceeds the 12-week FMLA entitlement (or in the case of military caregiver leave, the 26-week FMLA entitlement), will be subject to the LRSD’s standard leave of absence and attendance policies. This may result in termination if no other LRSD-provided leave is available.  Likewise, following the conclusion of FMLA leave, the LRSD’s obligation to maintain employee group health plan benefits ends (subject to any applicable COBRA rights). 

 

Other Employment

The LRSD generally prohibits employees from holding other employment. This policy remains in force during all leaves of absence including FMLA leave and may result in disciplinary action, up to and including immediate termination of employment.

 

Fraud

Providing false or misleading information or omitting material information in connection with an FMLA leave will result in disciplinary action, up to and including immediate termination.

 

Employers’ Compliance with FMLA and Employee’s Enforcement Rights

FMLA makes it unlawful for any employer to interfere with, restrain, or deny the exercise of any right provided under FMLA, or discharge or discriminate against any person for opposing any practice made unlawful by FMLA or for involvement in any proceeding under or relating to FMLA.

While the LRSD encourages employees to bring any concerns or complaints about compliance with FMLA to the attention of the Human Resources Department, FMLA regulations require employers to advise employees that they may file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor or bring a private lawsuit against an employer.

Further, FMLA does not affect any Federal or State law prohibiting discrimination, or supersede any State or local law or collective bargaining agreement which provides greater family or medical leave rights.

 

Military-Related FMLA Leave

FMLA leave may also be available to eligible employees in connection with certain service-related medical and non-medical needs of family members. There are two forms of such leave. The first is Military Caregiver Leave, and the second is Qualifying Exigency Leave. Each of these leaves is detailed below.

Definitions

A “covered service member” is either: (1) a current service member of the Armed Forces, including a member of the National Guard or Reserves, with a serious injury or illness incurred in the line of duty for which the service member is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy, is otherwise in outpatient status, or is otherwise on the temporary disability retired list; or (2) a “covered veteran” who is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy for a serious injury or illness. 

A “covered veteran” is an individual who was discharged under conditions other than dishonorable during the five-year period prior to the first date the eligible employee takes FMLA leave to care for the covered veteran. The period between October 28, 2009, and March 8, 2013, is excluded in determining this five-year period. 

The FMLA definitions of “serious injury or illness” for current service members and veterans are distinct from the FMLA definition of “serious health condition.” For current service members, the term “serious injury or illness” means an injury or illness that was incurred by the member in the line of duty while on active duty in the Armed Forces or that existed before the beginning of active duty and was aggravated by such service, that may render them medically unfit to perform the duties of their office, grade, rank, or rating. 

For covered veterans, this term means a serious injury or illness that was incurred in the line of duty while on active duty in the Armed Forces or that existed before the beginning of active duty and was aggravated by such service and manifested itself before or after the individual assumed veteran status, and is: (1) a continuation of a serious injury or illness that was incurred or aggravated when they were a member of the Armed Forces and rendered them unable to perform the duties of their office, grade, rank, or rating; (2) a physical or mental condition for which the covered veteran has received a VA Service Related Disability Rating (VASRD) of 50 percent or greater and such VASRD rating is based, in whole or in part, on the condition precipitating the need for caregiver leave; (3) a physical or mental condition that substantially impairs the veteran’s ability to secure or follow a substantially gainful occupation by reason of a disability or disabilities related to military service or would be so absent treatment; or (4) an injury, including a psychological injury, on the basis of which the covered veteran has been enrolled in the Department of Veterans Affairs Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers.

“Qualifying exigencies” include activities such as short-notice deployment, military events, arranging alternative childcare, making financial and legal arrangements related to the deployment, rest and recuperation, counseling, parental care, and post-deployment debriefings.

 

Military Caregiver Leave

Unpaid Military Caregiver Leave is designed to allow eligible employees to care for certain family members who have sustained serious injuries or illnesses in the line of duty while on active duty. Military Caregiver Leave is a special leave entitlement that permits eligible employees to take up to 26 weeks of leave to care for a covered service member during a single 12-month period. 

To be “eligible” for Military Caregiver Leave, the employee must be a spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin of the covered service member. “Next of kin” means the nearest blood relative of the service member, other than the service member’s spouse, parent, son, or daughter, in the following order of priority: blood relatives who have been granted legal custody of the service member by court decree or statutory provisions; brothers and sisters; grandparents; aunts and uncles; and first cousins; unless the service member has specifically designated in writing another blood relative as his or her nearest blood relative for purposes of Military Caregiver Leave. The employee must also meet all other eligibility standards as set forth within the FMLA Leave policy.

An eligible employee may take up to 26 work weeks of Military Caregiver Leave to care for a covered service member in a “single 12-month period.” The “single 12-month period” begins on the first day leave is taken to care for a covered service member and ends 12 months thereafter, regardless of the method used to determine leave availability for other FMLA-qualifying reasons. If an employee does not exhaust his or her 26 workweeks of Military Caregiver Leave during this “single 12-month period,” the remainder is forfeited.

Military Caregiver Leave applies on a per-injury basis for each service member.  Consequently, an eligible employee may take separate periods of caregiver leave for each and every covered service member, and/or for each and every serious injury or illness of the same covered service member.  A total of no more than 26 workweeks of Military Caregiver Leave, however, may be taken within any “single 12-month period.”

Within the “single 12-month period” described above, an eligible employee may take a combined total of 26 weeks of FMLA leave including up to 12 weeks of leave for any other FMLA-qualifying reason (i.e., birth or adoption of a child, serious health condition of the employee or close family member, or a qualifying exigency). For example, during the “single 12-month period,” an eligible employee may take up to 16 weeks of FMLA leave to care for a covered service member when combined with up to 10 weeks of FMLA leave to care for a newborn child.

An employee seeking Military Caregiver Leave may be required to provide appropriate certification from the employee and/or covered service member and completed by an authorized health care provider within 15 days. Military Caregiver Leave is subject to the other provisions in our FMLA Leave Policy (requirements regarding employee eligibility, appropriate notice of the need for leave, use of accrued paid leave, etc.). Military Caregiver Leave will be governed by, and handled in accordance with, the FMLA and applicable regulations, and nothing within this policy should be construed to be inconsistent with those regulations.

 

Qualifying Exigency Leave

Eligible employees may take unpaid “Qualifying Exigency Leave” to tend to certain “exigencies” arising out of the covered active duty or call to covered active duty status of a “military member” (i.e. the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent). Up to 12 weeks of Qualifying Exigency Leave is available in any 12-month period, as measured by the same method that governs measurement of other forms of FMLA leave within the FMLA policy (with the exception of Military Caregiver Leave, which is subject to a maximum of 26 weeks of leave in a “single 12-month period”). Although Qualifying Exigency Leave may be combined with leave for other FMLA-qualifying reasons, under no circumstances may the combined total exceed 12 weeks in any 12-month period (with the exception of Military Caregiver Leave as set forth above). The employee must meet all other eligibility standards as set forth within the FMLA policy.

Persons who can be ordered to active duty include active and retired members of the Regular Armed Forces, certain members of the retired Reserve, and various other Reserve members including the Ready Reserve, the Selected Reserve, the Individual Ready Reserve, the National Guard, state military, Army Reserve, Navy Reserve, Marine Corps Reserve, Air National Guard Reserve, Air Force Reserve, and Coast Guard Reserve.

A call to active duty refers to a federal call to active duty, and state calls to active duty are not covered unless under order of the President of the United States pursuant to certain laws.

 

Qualifying Exigency Leave is available under the following circumstances:

(1) Short-notice deployment. To address any issue that arises out of short notice (within seven days or less) of an impending call or order to covered active duty.

(2) Military events and related activities. To attend any official military ceremony, program, or event related to covered active duty or call to covered active duty status or to attend certain family support or assistance programs and informational briefings.

(3) Childcare and school activities. To arrange for alternative childcare; to provide childcare on an urgent, immediate need basis; to enroll in or transfer to a new school or daycare facility; or to attend meetings with staff at a school or daycare facility.

(4) Financial and legal arrangements. To make or update various financial or legal arrangements; or to act as the covered military member’s representative before a federal, state, or local agency in connection with service benefits.

(5) Counseling. To attend counseling (by someone other than a health care provider) for the employee, for the military member, or for a child or dependent when necessary as a result of duty under a call or order to covered active duty.

(6) Temporary rest and recuperation. To spend time with a military member who is on short-term, temporary rest and recuperation leave during the period of deployment. Eligible employees may take up to 15 calendar days of leave for each instance of rest and recuperation.

(7) Post-deployment activities. To attend arrival ceremonies, reintegration briefings and events, and any other official ceremony or program sponsored by the military for a period of up to 90 days following termination of the military member’s active duty status. This also encompasses leave to address issues that arise from the death of a military member while on active duty status.

(8) Parental care. To care for the military member’s parent who is incapable of self-care. The parent must be the military member’s biological, adoptive, step, or foster father or mother, or any other individual who stood in loco parentis to the military member when the member was under 18 years of age.

(9) Mutually agreed leave. Other events that arise from the military member’s duty under a call or order to active duty, provided that the LRSD and the employee agree that such leave will qualify as an exigency and agree to both the timing and duration of such leave.

An employee seeking Qualifying Exigency Leave may be required to submit appropriate supporting documentation in the form of a copy of the military member’s active duty or rest and recuperation orders or other military documentation indicating the appropriate military status and the dates of active duty status, along with a statement setting forth the nature and details of the specific exigency, the amount of leave needed and the employee’s relationship to the military member, within 15 days. Qualifying Exigency Leave will be governed by, and handled in accordance with, the FMLA and applicable regulations, and nothing within this policy should be construed to be inconsistent with those regulations.

 

Limited Nature of This Policy

This Policy should not be construed to confer any express or implied contractual relationship or rights to any employee not expressly provided for by FMLA. The LRSD reserves the right to modify this or any other policy as necessary, in its sole discretion to the extent permitted by law. State or local leave laws may also apply.

 

 

 

Revised: July 28, 2016

Adopted: May 19, 2011

Legal References:  The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993