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Following is the restated Family and Medical Leave Policy (Human Resource Policy 631). This policy supersedes the same policy that was published Of Record in Almanac on September 7, 1993. This restatement of the policy includes the following practices that the University has been following in administering the policy:

  • Inclusion of faculty and unionized staff members as eligible employees.
  • Use of the "rolling backward" method for determining the 12-month period for purposes
    of the eligibility for a Family and Medical Leave.
  • Extension of the benefit beyond the requirements of the federal law to allow the use of
    Family and Medical Leave time for a same sex domestic partner consistent with the
    University's definition of a same sex domestic partnership.

If you have any questions regarding this policy please contact the Division of Human Resources,
Department of Staff and Labor Relations at 898-6093 or e-mail us at

--John J. Heuer, Vice President for Human Resources

Revised Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) Policy Effective February 1, 1998

Eligible employees may be entitled to unpaid leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for specified family and medical reasons. Paid leave may have to be substituted for unpaid leave in certain cases. The following is the University's FMLA policy. Please contact the Division of Human Resources if you have any questions.


To be eligible for FMLA benefits, an employee must have been employed by the University for at least twelve (12) months and have worked for at least 1,250 hours during the 12-month period immediately preceding the start of the leave. The employee must also be employed at a worksite of the University where 50 or more employees are employed by the University within 75 miles of that worksite.

Qualified Leave Reasons

The University will grant FMLA leave to eligible employees for the following reasons:

a. The employee's serious health condition;

b. The birth and care of the employee's child;

c. Placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care; and

d. Care of the employee's spouse, domestic partner, child, or parent with a serious health condition.

Leave for the birth and care, or placement and care of a child must conclude within 12 months of the birth or placement of the child. FMLA applies equally to male and female employees.


a. Employee means faculty or staff member employed by the University on a full time, part time or temporary basis.

b. Serious Health Condition means an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves either:

1) inpatient care in a hospital, hospice or residential medical care facility, or

2) continuing treatment by a health care provider.

c. Continuing treatment means, in broad terms:

1) A period of incapacity (i.e., inability to work, attend school or perform other regular daily activities due to the serious health condition, treatment thereof, or recovery therefrom) of more than three consecutive calendar days (and any subsequent treatment or period of incapacity involving the same condition) involving treatment two or more times by a health care provider or treatment by a health care provider on at least one occasion that results in a regimen of continuing treatment under the health care provider's supervision.

2) Any period of incapacity due to pregnancy or prenatal care.

3) Any period of incapacity or treatment for such incapacity due to a chronic serious health condition that requires periodic visits for treatment by a health care provider; continues over an extended period of time; and may cause episodic rather than continuing incapacity (e.g., asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, etc.).

4) A period of incapacity that is permanent or long-term due to a condition for which treatment may not be effective (e.g., Alzheimer's, severe stroke, terminal stages of a disease).

5) Any period of absence to receive multiple treatments by a health care provider either for restorative surgery after an accident or injury or for a condition that would likely result in a period of incapacity of more than three consecutive calendar days in the absence of medical intervention or treatment (e.g., chemotherapy for cancer, physical therapy for severe arthritis, or dialysis for kidney disease).

d. Parent means the biological parent of an employee or an individual who stands or stood in the place of a parent to an employee when the employee was a child.

e. Child means a biological, adopted, or foster child, a stepchild, a legal ward, or a child of a person standing in the place of a parent, who is under 18 years of age or 18 years of age or older and incapable of self-care because of a mental or physical disability.

f. Health Care Provider means a physician, dentist, podiatrist, clinical psychologist, or optometrist who is authorized to practice medicine or surgery in the state in which the individual practices his/her profession. In cases limited to treatment consisting of manual manipulation of the spine to correct a subluxation, medical certification may be provided by a chiropractor.

Notice Requirement

Employees seeking FMLA leave are required to provide their supervisors and the University's Division of Human Resources at least 30 days prior written notice of the proposed leave. Where advance notice is not possible, such as in the event of a medical emergency, notice should be given as soon as practicable. Failure to give advance notice where foreseeable may delay or postpone the commencement of the leave. Please contact the Division of Human Resources for the applicable forms.

Certification of a Serious Health Condition

If FMLA leave is based on a serious health condition, whether it involves the employee or a family member (parent, spouse, domestic partner or child), medical certification from a health care provider will be required.

Failure to provide such certification may result in a delay of the employee's leave. Where the University requires an employee to provide a medical certification, that certification must be provided within twenty (20) calender days of the University's request. In addition, when returning to work from a leave taken because of the employee's own serious health condition, the employee will be required to provide medical certification that the employee is fit to return to work. Please contact your supervisor or the Division of Human Resources for available medical certifications forms. Employees should be aware that the University may, under certain circumstances, require recertification of a medical condition. In addition, employees may be required to report on their intent to return to work. Whenever an employee learns of a change in the anticipated length of a FMLA leave, the employee must notify the University within two (2) business days of learning of such a change.

Length of Leave

Eligible employees may be entitled to up to twelve (12) weeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period (which period is measured backward from the date an employee uses any FMLA leave). Each time an employee takes FMLA leave, the remaining leave entitlement equals the balance of the 12 weeks that has not been used during the immediately preceding 12 months.

Where both spouses or domestic partners are employed by the University, they are each entitled to 12 weeks of FMLA leave for the birth and care of their newborn child, or for the care and placement with them of a child for adoption or foster care.

In certain circumstances, employees may take intermittent leave or leave on a reduced leave schedule. Intermittent leave or leave on a reduced schedule for the birth and care or placement and care of a child for adoption or foster care will be allowed only with the University's prior written approval. Intermittent leave or leave on a reduced schedule may be taken whenever medically necessary to care for a seriously ill family member or because of the employee's own serious health condition.

Substituting Paid Leave

Where an employee takes FMLA leave because of the employee's own serious medical condition, the employee must substitute any unused paid time off, sick leave or short term disability leave for any (otherwise) unpaid FMLA leave.

In all other cases, accrued sick leave may be substituted for any (otherwise) unpaid FMLA leave if sick leave is permitted under the Uni-versity's Sick Leave Policy. See Sick Leave policies (Human Resource Policies 612 and 613). Where an employee has unused paid time off, the employee must substitute that paid time off for all or part of any (otherwise) unpaid FMLA relating to birth of a child or placement of a child for adoption for foster care, or care for a spouse, child or parent who has a serious health condition.

The University will designate an employee's use of paid leave as FMLA leave based on the information provided by the employee. Paid leave that is substituted for unpaid leave will be counted toward the 12 weeks of FMLA leave.

Benefits During Leave

During any FMLA leave, the University will maintain the employee's medical, dental, life and disability insurance coverage on the same conditions that coverage would have been provided if the employee had been continuously employed during the entire leave period. The University and the employee will each continue to pay their portion of the benefit costs. In some instances, the University may recover premiums it paid to maintain health coverage for an employee who fails to return to work from FMLA leave on a prorated basis.

During a FMLA leave, sick leave and paid time off will continue to accrue only during that portion of the leave which is paid by using sick or paid time off days. During any unpaid FMLA leave sick leave and paid time off will not accrue. For those persons returning from any unpaid FMLA leave, accrual of paid time off and sick leave will resume the first of the month which follows or coincides with the date the individual returns to active work. Where the FMLA leave is taken on an intermittent basis or as a reduced-schedule, sick leave and paid time off will continue to accrue during the leave on a pro rata basis.

Return from Leave

Employees returning from leave will be reinstated to the same or equivalent position, with equivalent pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment. Failure to return to work may result in termination of employment.

Employees returning from a leave for a serious health condition must also provide supervisors with a certification from a health care provider documenting their fitness to return to work. Employees who are unable to return to work at the end of the leave should notify their supervisor in writing at least two weeks in advance. Supervisors should contact Human Resources/Staff & Labor Relations to discuss alternatives prior to taking any action if an employee is unable to return to work.

In addition, except as provided in this policy, an employee's use of FMLA leave will not result in the loss of any employment benefit that the employee earned before using FMLA leave. Use of FMLA leave will not be counted against the employee under a "no fault" attendance policy.

Other Leave Arrangements

If an employee is ineligible for leave under FMLA, the employee may be entitled to a leave of absence under the University's established policies addressing leaves of absence. The determination of whether an employee qualifies for FMLA leave will be made at the time leave is requested.

FMLA benefits may run concurrently with benefits provided by Worker's Compensation.

For More Information

Information can be obtained by contacting the Division of Human Resources. In addition, a poster has been placed in the Division of Human Resources which includes further details regarding eligibility and other requirements of the law. Questions of interpretation under this policy will be resolved by reference to the FMLA and regulations issued by the United States Department of Labor. Employee's rights under this policy shall in no case be less than those afforded by the FMLA.

Return to:Almanac, University of Pennsylvania, February 17, 1998, Volume 44, Number 22