SUPERVISOR RESOURCE PAGE: Family and Medical Leave
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law allowing a qualifying employee1 to take up to 12 weeks of time off work due to their own serious medical condition, a serious medical condition of a spouse, child or parent, or to bond with a new child. FMLA protects an eligible employee's right to return to their same or similar job upon their return from a FMLA protected leave. California has a similar law called the California Family Rights Act (CRFA). In most cases, these two laws cover the same type of absences and run concurrently (see Maternity Leave Resource page for the exceptions).
Below is a list of steps a supervisor should follow when you have an employee who may be eligible for a FMLA leave.
- If you are aware that the reason for an employee's absence from work qualifies under the FMLA, refer them to Human Resources immediately, even if they do not request the FMLA by name. You should also notify Human Resources of the absence. Supervisors and Employees should contact:
- Human Resources will contact the employee and request all the appropriate FMLA paperwork. Once all of the paperwork is received, Human Resources will send you an email indicating the employee's status, expected return to work date, and all other important details.
- Human Resources will record any paid absence hours in KRONOS on your behalf in coordination with State Disability Insurance.
- If you wish to replace the position if it extends beyond the required FMLA protection period (twelve weeks), please notify Human Resources at least 30 days prior to the end of the FMLA protection period. Human Resources will then forward to you the document template that you will need to send to the employee notifying them that the position will no longer be held if they do not return when the FMLA leave concludes.
- You should obtain a "Release to Return to Work" from the employee's medical provider on the day they return from the leave. The employee should bring this with them on their first day back to work. Notify Human Resources of the actual return to work date.
Additional Notes to Supervisors:
It is prohibited by the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) for an employer to ask for a "diagnosis" on the medical certification form. Supervisors should refrain from asking for any medical details from an employee on leave.
There are no specific rules or regulations that preclude employer contact with employees who are out of the workplace on FMLA leave. However, an employee on leave must be fully relieved of responsibilities and should not be asked to perform work while on leave. One quick phone call to ask a general question (the location of a file, for example) is generally allowed, but constant calls and requests for the employee to respond to emails or perform work tasks is not permissible.
Supervisors can contact employees on a periodic basis to find out how they are doing. This is a recommended practice.
Supervisors may not take disciplinary action (due to absenteeism) against an employee with an absence that would qualify under the FMLA.
If an employee continues to be disabled at the end of the twelve week FMLA protection period, they will be continued on a Sick Leave of absence with benefits until the medical provider releases them to return to work or for a maximum period of twelve months from their last day of work. Departments will be responsible for benefit charges during this extended Sick Leave period even if the employee on leave has been replaced in their position by another employee.
1To qualify for a family or medical leave, an employee must have at least 12 months of employment with the University. In addition, the employee must have worked at least 1,250 hours (an average of about 24 hours per week) during the prior 12 month period.