What is FMLA?

What is FMLA?

Below is a summary of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). For a full description of MIT's FMLA leave policy, please refer to the MIT Personnel Policy Manual.

The Family and Medical Leave Act was enacted in 1993 and amended in 2008 to help employees balance the demands of work and family, and to care for their own and their families’ medical problems, without risking their jobs.

Eligible employees may take unpaid job-protected and benefit-protected leave for any of the following reasons:

  • an employee's own serious health condition (including conditions related to pregnancy and childbirth);
  • the birth and care of the employee's newborn child (leave must be completed within 12 months of the date of birth);
  • placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care (leave must be completed within 12 months of the date of placement);
  • the serious health condition of the employee's child, parent, spouse, or partner, requiring the employee's participation in care;
  • any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse/partner, son, daughter, or parent is a covered military member on active duty or has been notified of an impending call or order to active duty in support of a contingency operation; or
  • to care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness if the employee is the spouse/partner, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin of the servicemember.

Who's Eligible?

Regular full-time or part-time employees who are working 50% or more of a normal work week, AND who have been employed by the Institute for a least one year.

The right to take leave under FMLA applies equally to male and female employees. A father, as well as a mother, may take family leave for birth, placement for adoption or foster care of a child.

How Much Leave May an Employee Take?

Eligible employees are entitled to leave of up to 12 weeks in a 12-month period, except for those eligible employees caring for a covered service member who are entitled to leave of up to 26 weeks. For purposes of this policy, a "rolling" 12-month period will be used, measured backward from the starting date of the requested leave. For example, if an employee took a 12-week FMLA leave beginning April 1, 2012, the next time the employee would be eligible for FMLA leave is April 1, 2013. Spouses/partners who are both employed by the Institute are allowed a combined total of 12 weeks of leave within a 12-month period for the care of a newborn.

Relationship to Paid Leave

FMLA leave is generally unpaid leave. However, eligible employees may elect to substitute accrued paid vacation leave, paid personal leave, and/or paid sick leave for any part of the 12-week FMLA period.

How Much Advance Notice Must the Employee Provide?

Employees are required to give at least 2 weeks' advance notice for leaves that are foreseeable. For unforeseeable leave, the employee must provide notice as soon as is practicable.

Intermittent, Continuous, and Reduced Leave Schedule

Leave may be taken on an intermittent basis or reduced schedule only when medically necessary. Leaves taken for purposes of birth, adoption or foster care must be taken in continuous periods and within 12 months of the date of birth or placement.

What is a Serious Health Condition Entitling Employee to FMLA Leave?

The term "serious health condition" means an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves (A) inpatient care in a hospital, hospice, or residential medical care facility; or (B) continuing treatment by a health care provider. Note: The common cold, ear aches, minor upset stomach, ulcers, headaches other than migraine, routine dental or orthodontia problems, periodontal disease, etc., are examples of conditions that may not meet the definition of a serious health condition and may not qualify for FMLA leave. (More on serious health conditions from the U.S. Department of Labor.)

Medical Certifications

An employee's leave to care for the employee's own serious health condition or that of a seriously ill family member (child, parent, spouse, or partner) must be supported by a medical certification issued by a healthcare provider. Certification must be furnished prior to the beginning of leave. Failure to provide requested medical certification forms in a timely manner may result in the delay or denial of FMLA leave.

Note: The definition of health care provider for unpaid FMLA leave is different from MIT's paid sick leave policy. To receive paid leave benefits under MIT sick leave policy, the employee must provide a medical certification (PDF) completed and signed by a legally qualified physician.

Employment and Benefit Protection

Upon return from leave, the employee will be reinstated to the same or equivalent job with the same pay, benefits, and terms and conditions of employment.

Employees on an unpaid leave status must contact the Benefits Office to make arrangements to pay insurance premiums (617-253-6151). See a summary of benefits while on unpaid leave.