The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) allows eligible employees to take job-protected, unpaid leave, or to substitute appropriate paid leave if the employee has earned or accrued it, for up to a total of 12 workweeks in a 12 month period for qualifying reasons. Qualifying reasons are listed below. Employees on FMLA are responsible for maintaining premium payments to their pension and insurance during the leave period.

The employee has the right to return to the same position or an equivalent position with equivalent pay, benefits, and working conditions at the conclusion of the leave. The taking of FMLA leave cannot result in the loss of any benefit that accrued prior to the start of the leave.

You are eligible for leave (either paid or unpaid) under FMLA if you:

  • Have been employed by the City of El Paso for at least 12 months Employment does not have to have been continuous, except that the separate periods of employment in which the break in service exceeds 7 years are not used to determine eligibility; and
  • Worked at least 1,250 actual work hours during the 12-month period prior to the first day of the leave. Only time actually worked is used in the calculation. The City uses a “rolling” 12 month period; and
  • Have not already used 12 weeks of FMLA entitlement in the past 12 months; and
  • Must be for a qualifying reason.

NOTE: Time in the military service covered under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) will count towards fulfilling the length of employment and hours of work requirements to be eligible for an FMLA leave. The 7-year break in service rule does not apply to military service.

Qualifying reasons for FMLA are:

  • Birth of a child and to care for a newborn child of the employee.
  • Placement of a child with the employee through adoption or foster care.
  • Care for any of the following who has a “Serious Health Condition”: the employee’s spouse, the employee’s child under the age of 18, or the employee’s parent.
  • Care for the employee’s child 18 years or older who has a “Serious Health Condition” and is incapable of self-care because of mental or physical disability.
  • A “Serious Health Condition” that renders the employee unable to perform the functions of his or her job. A Serious Health Condition is defined as:
    • A condition involving a period of incapacity of more than three (3) consecutive calendar days or two or more visits to a healthcare provider. The two visits must occur in person within thirty (30) days of the first day of the incapacity. The first visit to the healthcare provider must take place within seven days of the first day of incapacity.
    • The incapacity is three consecutive calendar days and includes a regimen of continuing treatment (prescribed RX, physical therapy, chemo, etc.). The first visit to the healthcare provider must take place within seven days of the first day of incapacity.
    • The incapacity involving a chronic condition, at least two visits per year to a healthcare provider are required. This Intermittent Leave is covered under FMLA, but the physician must specifically complete the sections regarding Intermittent Leave. If not complete, Intermittent Leave cannot be approved. Once an employee is approved for Intermittent Leave and only absent within the doctor’s estimated timeframe, the employer cannot ask for doctor’s notes in order to verify illness. Only after a 6-month timeframe or if the employee starts missing more time than the doctor estimated can the employer request additional information from the physician.
  • A qualifying exigency which occurs while the employee’s spouse, child, or parent is a member of a Reserve component or a retired member of the Regular Armed Forces or Reserves and is on active duty or on a Federal call to active duty. Qualifying exigencies to manage the service member’s affairs are described on the DOL form Certification of Qualifying Exigency for Military Family Leave.
  • Care for a service member who has suffered a serious injury or illness in the line of duty if the employee has a qualified family relationship with the covered service member. A qualified family relationship is a spouse, domestic partner, parent child, or next of kin.

Employees are responsible for:

  • Providing their department with a 30-day advance notice of the need to take FMLA leave, when the need is foreseeable. If the FMLA is unforeseeable, the employee should notify his department “As soon as Practicable”. However, notice of the need for “FMLA should not be given more than two business days after returning to work.
  • Completing the “Request for Family or Medical Leave” Form immediately.
  • Informing his supervisor when they are going to work for a FMLA reason.
  • Providing required supporting documentation (DOL Certification form, Birth Certificate, Adoption, Military orders, etc.) within the requested time.
  • Employees who do not provide the required FMLA documentation to the City within the requested time may lose their FMLA Status and their leave time changed from paid to unpaid. Failure to provide the required documentation will be deemed as “Unauthorized leave without pay”.
  • Employees should contact the Pension Office and Insurance & Benefits in order to safeguard their benefits.

NOTE: Employees out on Worker’ Compensation are not required to provide the DOL Certification Form. The DWC forms that are provided are adequate documentation for verification purposes.

If further information is needed visit the US Department of Labor FMLA website: http://www.dol.gov/whd/fmla/