Family and Medical Leave (FMLA)
Frequently Asked Questions
FMLA Guide for Faculty and Staff (PDF)
FMLA Guide for Supervisors and BAs (PDF)
Eligible employees may be entitled to leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for specified family and medical reasons. Although FML is unpaid, the University requires that employees concurrently use available sick leave, 50% of Paid Time Off and Short-Term Disability (STD) benefits if available. The following is the University's FMLA policy. Please contact the Benefits Office in the Division of Human Resources if you have any questions.
University employees covered by collective bargaining agreements should refer to the appropriate article in their contract.
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. Periods of approved military leave should be counted when calculating these hours of service requirements for FMLA 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.
The University will grant FMLA leave to eligible employees for the following reasons:
- The employee's serious health condition;
- The birth and care of the employee's child;
- Placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care;
- Care of the employee's spouse/same-sex domestic partner, child, or parent with a serious health condition;
- Because of a "qualifying exigency" relating to the active-duty status or call to active-duty in the armed forces of a spouse/same-sex domestic partner, son, daughter, or parent of the employee, including those contingencies set forth in the applicable regulations, summarized as follows:
- short-notice deployment;
- military events and related activities;
- to arrange for childcare, or provide childcare on an urgent basis, or for school activities;
- to make financial or legal arrangements;
- to attend counseling;
- to spend time with the service member while on short-term leave;
- for post-deployment activities; and
- for other activities in accordance with the regulations.
- Because care is required for a family member or next of kin who is a member of the armed forces, including a member of the National Guard or Reserves, who is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy, or is otherwise in outpatient status on the temporary disability retired list, for a serious injury or illness.
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.
- Employee means faculty or staff member employed by the University on a full time, part time or temporary basis.
- Serious Health Condition means an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves either:
- inpatient care in a hospital, hospice or residential medical care facility, or
- continuing treatment by a health care provider.
- Continuing treatment means, in broad terms:
- 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 there from) of more than three (3) 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 (within 30 days of the incapacity) 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.
- Any period of incapacity due to pregnancy or prenatal care.
- 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.).
- 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).
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Next of Kin means nearest blood relative.
- Covered service member means a member of the United States armed forces, National Guard, or Reserves.
- Serious Injury or Illness means an injury or illness incurred by a covered service member in the line of duty on active duty that may render him or her unfit to perform the duties of his or her office, grade, rank, or rating.
Employees seeking FMLA leave should 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.
Employees using intermittent leave or leave on a reduced schedule must make a reasonable effort to avoid disrupting University operations, including scheduling doctor's appointments outside of work hours. An employee using intermittent leave due to medical necessity should notify his/her supervisor as soon as he/she knows that he/she will be unable to work, but no later than the starting time of the staff member's work day. A staff member must notify his/her supervisor on each day of absence unless other arrangements have been made.
Failure to follow this policy may delay or postpone the commencement of the leave and/or result in disciplinary action. Please contact the Division of Human Resources for the applicable forms.
When a staff member has proposed a leave, the supervisor is expected to notify the staff member, in writing, that the University is provisionally designating the leave as Family Medical Leave.
If FMLA leave is based on a serious health condition, whether it involves the employee or a family member (parent, spouse/same-sex 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) calendar days of the University's request. Please contact your supervisor or the Division of Human Resources for available medical certification 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.
If a leave request is based on a qualifying exigency due to active duty service or a call to active duty service, the employee may be required to provide a copy of the active duty order or other appropriate documentation, as well as certification and documentation from the employee containing information supporting the qualifying exigency. When leave is taken to care for a covered service member, the employee may be required to provide certification from an authorized health care provider.
Employees using sick leave are prohibited from working either in the workplace or at any other location, including the employee's home, whether for the University or otherwise. When returning to work from a leave taken because of the employee's own serious health condition, the employee will be required to provide a return to work note from the treating physician prior to reporting back to the workplace.
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/same-sex 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.
An eligible employee who is the spouse/same-sex domestic partner, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin of a covered service member shall be entitled to a total of 26 workweeks of FMLA leave during a 12-month period to care for the service member. The leave in this paragraph shall only be available during a single 12-month period, though that leave entitlement shall be applied on a per-covered-service member, per-injury basis.
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.
When an employee takes FMLA leave because of the employee's own serious medical condition or pregnancy, the employee must substitute any unused sick leave, 50% of PTO, and/or short-term disability leave in that order for any (otherwise) unpaid FMLA leave. Employees will only be paid for the time they have available not to exceed six (6) months or one hundred thirty-two (132) consecutive work days including sick leave, paid time off and short-term disability. If the certification states that the employee must be out longer for an approved medical reason, he/she may apply for Long-Term Disability (Policy 405), a leave as an accommodation under the Americans With Disabilities Act, or a Leave of Absence Without Pay (Policy 616).
Employees may use up to 5 sick days in a calendar year for approved leaves for reasons other than the employee's own serious health condition or pregnancy (paternity, adoption, foster care and care of a family member with a serious health condition). Employees must substitute unused PTO for the leave unless they notify their business administrator that they want to retain 50% of their PTO balance.
The University will designate an employee's use of paid leave as FMLA leave based on the information provided by the employee's department. Paid leave that is substituted for unpaid leave will be counted toward the 12 weeks of FMLA leave.
During any FMLA leave, the University will maintain the employee's medical, dental, vision, 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.
Normally, employees returning from medical leave will be reinstated to the same or an equivalent position, with equivalent pay, benefits and other terms and conditions of employment. Failure to return to work once all paid leave and unpaid FML have been exhausted may result in termination of employment. However, at times, departments, schools and/or centers may restructure due to changing business and operational needs and the need to continually enhance programs and services. These restructuring initiatives may result in position discontinuations, even positions held by employees out on FML or other types of leave. If a staff member on FML has his/her position discontinued, he/she will be given at least 30 days written notice of the position discontinuation and will be informed of any applicable benefits that he/she may be eligible to receive under the Position Discontinuation and Staff Transition Program.
Employees returning from 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 and must have the physician re-certify that the leave is medically necessary. 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, has exhausted the 12 weeks of FMLA leave and/or is out of sick, PTO and/or STD days.
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.
The determination of whether an employee qualifies for FMLA leave will be made at the time leave is requested. If an employee is ineligible for leave under FMLA or has exhausted his/her 12 weeks, the employee may be entitled to a leave of absence under the University's established policies addressing leaves of absence. Note that a leave of absence without pay is subject to the sole approval of the department. The employee may also apply for a leave as an accommodation under the Americans With Disabilities Act.
FMLA benefits run concurrently with benefits provided by the University's sick leave, short-term disability and Worker's Compensation programs.
Information can be obtained by contacting the Benefits Office in 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. Employees of temporary staffing agencies should contact their agency directly for information regarding their rights under the FMLA (see Policy 112, Using Temporary Agencies). 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.
Note: Dealing with issues that qualify for Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) can be challenging. Returning to work following FMLA can be stressful. For these and other matters, the University offers the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for free, confidential, one-to-one support at any time. The EAP can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help you manage the issues at hand and prepare for a successful return to the workplace. Call 1-888-321-4433 to speak with a counselor. You can also find useful information on the EAP website.
Letter #1 – FML Provisional Letter
Use this letter if staff member has been out sick for more than 3 consecutive days and has not notified you that s/he will be out for a possible FML qualifying event.
Letter #2 – FML Provisional Letter
Use this letter if staff member has notified you that s/he will be out for a possible FML qualifying event for his/her own serious medical condition or pregnancy.
Letter #3 – FML Provisional Letter
Use this letter if staff member has notified you that s/he will be out for a possible FML qualifying event to care for a family member with a serious medical condition.
Letter #4 – FML Provisional Letter
Use this letter if staff member has notified you that s/he will be out for a possible FML qualifying event for care of newborn, adoption, or foster care.
Letter # 5 - FML Provisional Letter
Use this letter if staff member has notified you that s/he will be out for a possible FML qualifying event because of any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that a spouse, son, daughter or parent of the employee is on active duty (or has been notified of an impending call or order to active duty) in the armed forces or in support of a contingency operation.
Letter # 6 - FML Provisional Letter
Use this letter if staff member has notified you that s/he will be out for a possible FML qualifying event due to the serious injury or illness of a covered servicemember for military family leave.
Family Medical Leave Forms
The benefits and policies for University of Pennsylvania employees who work in locations outside of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania may be different from the benefits and policies set forth in this website. Employees working outside the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania should contact their Human Resources representatives for more information. Policy Number: 631 Effective Date: 04/01/2009 Supersedes Policy Number(s): 631 (Family and Medical Leave Act–02/01/1998), 631 (11/01/1998, 02/20/2002)Applicability: All Faculty & Staff Cross-reference: Policy 001 (Adherence to University Policy), Policy 112 (Using Temporary Agencies), Policy 404 (Short-term Disability), Policy 412 (New Child Policy), Policy 607 (Paid Time Off), Policy 612 (Sick Leave), Policy 613 (Sick Leave and STD for Employees At or Above Position Grade 29 or in Grades E, F, G and H), Policy 616 (Leave of Absence Without Pay), Policy 714 (Occupational Injury or Illness)
Policy Number: 631
Supersedes Policy Number(s): 631 (Family and Medical Leave Act–02/01/1998), 631 (11/01/1998, 02/20/2002, 04/01/2009) Applicability: All Faculty & Staff
Cross-reference: Policy 001 (Adherence to University Policy), Policy 112 (Using Temporary Agencies), Policy 404 (Short-term Disability), Policy 412 (New Child Policy), Policy 607 (Paid Time Off), Policy 612 (Sick Leave), Policy 613 (Sick Leave and STD for Employees At or Above Position Grade 29 or in Grades E, F, G and H), Policy 616 (Leave of Absence Without Pay), Policy 714 (Occupational Injury or Illness)