Guide FMLA Leave (Family and Medical Leave Act)

This Guide page applies only to Executive Department employees. The federal law, Family and Medical Leave Act (known as FMLA) provides up to 12 unpaid weeks of job-protected leave per year for employees in certain situations. The Commonwealth offers its Executive Department employees more generous FMLA benefits with leave up to 26 weeks per year for certain reasons plus some employees may access a once-in-a lifetime additional 26 weeks of catastrophic FMLA leave. We also follow the state parental leave law.

Brief Overview of FMLA

The Basics

Reasons an employee can take FMLA leave include:

  • Birth, adoption, or placement of a foster child
  • For a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of their job
  • To care for a spouse, son, daughter, or parent with a serious health condition
  • To care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness (employee's spouse, child, parent, or next of kin)
  • For any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that an employee's spouse, child, or parent is on active military duty or call to covered active duty status

How to Apply

Employees with a serious health condition should notify their agency Human Resources (HR) department and complete the Employee Notice of Family and Medical Leave form and return to your HR department.

The form is due 30 days in advance of the leave if feasible. Otherwise you need to notify your employer as soon as you become aware that you will need to take a leave.

Pay

FMLA is an unpaid leave, unless the employee has leave accruals or is eligible for another program that would allow the employee to be paid by the Commonwealth while absent due to a serious health condition.

Detailed Information on FMLA

FMLA Forms

FMLA Leave for Birth, Adoption, or Foster Care Placement

Employees who pass their probationary period are eligible to take up to 26 weeks of FMLA for the birth, adoption or foster care placement of a child. Employees who take FMLA for this reason will be eligible for 10 paid paternal leave days. Otherwise, this is an unpaid leave unless the employee utilizes their leave accruals to remain on the payroll. However, SERV volunteer time may be used for certain activities related to a foster care placement.

In addition, the Massachusetts Parental Leave Act (MPLA), MGL c. 149 sec. 105D, provides that employees who have been employed for 3 months are eligible to take 8 weeks unpaid upon the birth adoption or foster care placement of a child. In most circumstances, this leave will run concurrently with the FMLA.

For both the FMLA and MPLA, employees are entitled to return to the same or equivalent position at the conclusion of the leave and have their health insurance maintained at the same level as if they had not been on leave.

In order to take this leave, your agency may ask for documentation such as a birth certificate, adoption papers or the agreement with the Department of Children and Families (DCF) or court order for a foster care placement.

When the employee returns to work, they may benefit from the Break Time for Nursing Mothers Policy which allows for unpaid breaks in a secure location for the purposes of lactation.

FMLA Leave for Employee's Own Illness

This section provides guidance for Executive Department employees seeking to use FMLA leave for their own illness.

Overview

Employees who pass their probationary period are eligible to take up to 26 weeks of FMLA for their own serious health condition that makes them unable to perform the essential functions of their job.   When you request an FMLA or your agency has reason to believe your absences are for a serious health condition, you will be asked to provide a medical certification to support a need for leave and have it designated as FMLA.  Upon the first request for leave, an agency may elect to pay for a second medical opinion.  For each period of requested FMLA, medical documentation will be required and any related absences will be designated as FMLA.

While on leave, employees will have their health insurance maintained at the same level as if they had not been on leave.

At the conclusion of leave employees are entitled to return to the same or equivalent position.

Leave can be taken on a continuous or intermittent basis. 

Serious Health Condition

Not all absences due to illness or injury qualify as FMLA leave. The following circumstances could be considered covered by FMLA leave:

  • Inpatient hospital care (including an overnight stay)
  • Incapacity for more than 3 consecutive days and subsequent treatment
  • Incapacity caused by pregnancy or for routine prenatal care
  • Permanent or long-term conditions
  • Chronic conditions
  • Conditions requiring multiple treatments

Compensation

There is no restriction on the amount of accrued all sick, vacation, personal, and compensatory balances employee can use their own illness under the FMLA.

Employees may also be able to tap into one or more of the following types of paid leave

  • Extended Illness Leave Bank (EILB) if a member
  • Workers' compensation or injured by patient or prisoner benefits if work-related injury or illness
  • Short-term disability (if enrolled)
  • Long-term disability (if enrolled)

FMLA for Family Member Illness (unrelated to Military Service)

This section provides guidance for Executive Department employees seeking to use FMLA leave for an eligible family member's illness.

Overview

Employees who pass their probationary period are eligible to take up to 26 weeks of FMLA to care for a spouse, son, daughter, or parent with a serious health condition.

When you need to take a leave of absence, there are forms you should complete and submit to your human resources office. The forms are due 30 days in advance of the leave if feasible. Otherwise you need to notify your employer as soon as you become aware that a family member may have a serious health condition that would necessitate your absence from work.

The family member's healthcare provider will need to produce medical certification that the ill family member needs personal or physical assistance or psychological support from the presence of a relative.

Leave can be taken on a continuous or intermittent basis.

Serious Health Condition

Not all absences due to illness or injury qualify as FMLA leave. The following treatments could be considered covered by FMLA leave:

  • Inpatient hospital care (including an overnight stay)
  • Incapacity for more than 3 consecutive days and subsequent treatment
  • Incapacity caused by pregnancy or for routine prenatal care
  • Permanent or long-term conditions
  • Chronic conditions
  • Conditions requiring multiple treatments

Compensation

Employees may use accrued personal, vacation, and compensatory time. 

There are annual limits to the number of accrued sick days (usually 30 or 60) that an employee can use for family illness. 

All or part of the leave may also be unpaid but the employee still has the job protection of an FMLA leave. Agencies must maintain group health insurance during the leave. Employees are entitled to be restored to the same or equivalent position at the conclusion of their leave.

This section provides guidance for Executive Department employees seeking to use FMLA leave for an eligible family member's illness or injury connected to current or prior military duty.

Overview of Military Caregiver Leave

Employees may take up to 26 weeks of FMLA Leave to care for relatives with a military-related illness/injury.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that allows eligible employees to take unpaid, job-protected leave for certain reasons including caring for a covered military service member or certain veterans (your spouse, child, parent, or next of kin), with a service-related serious injury or illness.

Leave can be taken on a continuous or intermittent basis.

 

Serious Illness or Injury

An employee is able to request FMLA if their family member or next of kin is a current servicemember or veteran has a serious injury or illness incurred in the line of duty that caused the family member to be medically unfit to perform regular military duties.

In addition employees of veterans qualify for FMLA if of family member has a service-related mental or physical condition that:

  • significantly impairs their ability to work; or
  • led to a 50% disability rating from U.S. Veterans Affairs (VA); or
  • cause person to be enrolled in the VA's Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers program

Compensation

Employees may use accrued personal, vacation, and compensatory time. 

There are annual limits to the number of accrued sick days (usually 30 or 60) that an employee can use for family illness. 

All or part of the leave may also be unpaid but the employee still has the job protection of an FMLA leave. 

The employer must maintain group health insurance during the leave. Employees are entitled to be restored to the same or equivalent position at the conclusion of their leave.

 

 

 

Military Exigency Leave

This section provides guidance for Executive Department employees seeking to use FMLA leave for an employee to handle responsibilities due to military deployment of a family member.

Overview of Leave

One reason employees can take FMLA is for any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that their spouse, child, or parent is on active military duty or called to covered active duty status. The leave can be taken continuously or intermittently for up to 12 unpaid weeks per year.

If there are children in the family, a deployment may create new issues such as childcare changes or school meetings. The employee not deployed may have additional financial or legal responsibilities so this time is allowed for the home life to be as normal as possible while allowing for a short period of adjustment without having to be at work full-time. 

 

Qualifying Reasons

Situations that may be covered under FMLA include:

  • Short-notice deployment
  • Military events and related activities
  • Childcare and school activities
  • Financial and legal arrangements
  • Counseling
  • Rest and recuperation
  • Post-deployment activities
  • Some additional activities

 

Compensation

 Employees may use accrued personal, vacation, and compensatory time. 

The employee may only use sick time if the time is spent to attend counseling.

All or part of the leave may also be unpaid but the employee still has the job protection of an FMLA leave.

The employer must maintain group health insurance during the leave. Employees are entitled to be restored to the same or equivalent position at the conclusion of their leave.

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