4.5 Leaves Provided Under the Family and Medical Leave Act

In accordance with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and final rulings issued to the Act, 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, may request leave for the following reasons:

  • because of 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); or
  • because of the serious health condition of the employee's child, parent, or spouse* requiring the employee's participation in care.

* This policy will also include the same-sex "domestic partner," according to the following definition; the partner is the same sex as the employee and is at least 18 years of age; the partner has shared a common residence with the employee for a period of at least four consecutive months and intends to reside indefinitely with the employee; the partner and the employee are not married to anyone, and they share a mutually exclusive, enduring relationship; and the partner and the employee consider themselves life partners, share joint responsibility for their common welfare, and are financially interdependent.

Eligible employees are entitled to leave of up to 12 weeks in a 12-month period. For purposes of this policy, a "rolling" 12-month period will be used, measured backward from the starting date of the requested leave. Specific provisions and requirements for each type of FMLA leave are detailed below.

4.5.1 Leave Related to an Employee's Own Serious Health Condition (Including Pregnancy and Childbirth)

In the case of an employee's own serious health condition, including conditions related to pregnancy and childbirth, leave may be approved in continuous periods, intermittent periods, or by a reduced work schedule, in accordance with certification from the employee's health care provider (see 4.5.5 below). In cases of reduced schedules or intermittent leave, a department supervisor may transfer the employee temporarily to an alternate position to accommodate the needs of the work area. Leaves which extend beyond 12 weeks in duration due to an ongoing serious health condition will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis in accordance with MIT's general sick leave policies as outlined in Section 4.3, Sick Leave/Personal Leave.

Institute sick leave and extended sick leave benefits may provide a period of paid leave for eligible employees. Sick leave policies for the particular payroll category should be reviewed in determining any paid leave for which the employee is eligible. If an employee is not eligible for paid leave, or if paid sick leave benefits have been exhausted, the leave period will be administered as unpaid leave.

Conditions related to pregnancy and childbirth are considered to be serious health conditions under the FMLA, and disability leaves related to pregnancy and childbirth are administered in the same manner as other disability leaves under the Institute's sick leave policies. (See Section 4.3, Sick Leave/Personal Leave.)

Following a medical leave period related to pregnancy and childbirth, an employee may be eligible for additional leave, without pay, for purposes of child care. In such cases, the combination of the medical leave period and the additional period for child care leave should not exceed 12 weeks in total. For details regarding extended leave for the purpose of child care, refer to 4.5.2 below.

4.5.2 Leave to Care for the Employee's Newborn Child

Leave to care for a newborn child should normally be taken in continuous periods and must be taken within 12 months of the birth of the child. Intermittent leave or reduced schedules may be arranged only if agreed to by both the department supervisor and the employee.

Leave to care for a newborn is unpaid leave. However, employees may elect to use earned vacation balances or personal leave balances in place of unpaid leave within the approved leave period.

Spouses 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.

Following a sick leave period related to pregnancy and childbirth, an employee may be eligible for additional leave, without pay, for purposes of child care. In such cases, the combination of the medical leave period and the additional period for child care leave should not exceed 12 weeks in total. For details regarding leaves related to pregnancy and childbirth, see 4.5.1 above.

Requests for leave to exceed 12 weeks will be reviewed in accordance with the specific circumstances of the request, considerations of work coverage, and the provisions of the Institute's general policy on leave without pay. (See Section 4.16, Leave of Absence Without Pay.)

4.5.3. Leave to Care for Employee's Newly-Adopted or Newly-Placed Foster Child

Leave to care for a newly-adopted child or to care for a child newly-placed with an employee for foster care, should normally be taken in continuous periods and must be taken within 12 months of the placement of the child. Intermittent leave or reduced schedules may be arranged only if agreed to by both the department supervisor and the employee.

Leave to care for a newly-adopted or newly-placed foster child is unpaid leave. However, employees may elect to use earned vacation balances or personal leave balances in place of unpaid leave within the approved leave period.

Spouses 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 newly-adopted or newly-placed foster child.

Requests for leave to exceed 12 weeks will be reviewed in accordance with the specific circumstances of the request, considerations of work coverage, and the provisions of the Institute's general policy on leave without pay. (See Section 4.16, Leave of Absence Without Pay.)

4.5.4 Leave to Care for a Family Member with a Serious Health Condition

Employees may request leave in situations where they are required to participate in the care of a seriously ill child, parent or spouse. Requests for leave to care for other seriously ill family members or members of an employee's household may be considered on a case-by-case basis.

An employee may request leave in continuous periods, intermittent periods, or by a reduced work schedule to a total of 12 weeks, in accordance with certification from the family member's health care provider (see 4.5.5 below). In cases of reduced schedules or intermittent leave, a department supervisor may transfer the employee temporarily to an alternate position to accommodate the needs of the work area.

Leave periods to care for seriously ill family members are unpaid leaves. However, employees may elect to use earned vacation balances or personal leave balances in place of unpaid leave within the approved leave period.

Requests for leave to exceed 12 weeks will be reviewed in accordance with the specific circumstances of the request, considerations of work coverage, and the provisions of the Institute's general policy on leave without pay. (See Section 4.16, Leave of Absence Without Pay.)

4.5.5 Request and Authorization of FMLA Leave

Employees are expected to provide as much advance notice of the need for leave as is possible to allow for planning of coverage in the work area. Notice of at least two weeks is preferred. Leave of Absence Authorization forms are available in the Human Resources Department on Campus and in the Human Resources Office at Lincoln Laboratory.

In addition, certification from a qualified health care provider will be required for approval of a leave to care for a seriously ill family member or in the case of an employee's own serious health condition. Such certification should be provided prior to the beginning of the leave (or in as timely a manner as possible) and should include: the date on which the illness/condition commenced; the estimated duration of the illness/condition; a statement that the illness/condition warrants the participation of the employee to provide care (in the case of an ill family member); and, in cases in which intermittent leave is advised, the dates and duration of treatments to be given. Copies of the Certification of Health Care Provider form are available for this purpose.

A department supervisor in consultation with their Human Resources Officer or Human Resources Representative at Lincoln Laboratory may require that a second medical opinion be obtained. This evaluation is done at the expense of the department and must be obtained from a health care provider who is not employed by the Institute. In the event of conflicting opinions, the supervisor may ask for a third and final provider (at the expense of the department) to offer a binding decision. Additional certification may be requested for any extension of a leave period beyond the dates originally approved.

Failure to provide requested information in a timely manner may result in the delay or denial of FMLA leave.

4.5.6 Notice of FMLA Rights by Supervisors

It is the responsibility of supervisors to provide information to employees regarding their rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act, and terms and conditions of Institute FMLA leave policies. Leave time may not be counted towards FMLA allowances until the employee is notified in writing of the defined leave period which will be counted towards their 12 week FMLA entitlement. This can be accomplished either through return of the signed Leave of Absence Authorization form or by letter.

Supervisors may require an employee to complete a Leave of Absence Authorization form and a Certification of Health Care Provider form, in the case of the serious health condition of the employee, or requested leave to care for a seriously ill family member.

Copies of these forms, the Institute's policy statement regarding FMLA leave, and a suggested format for a "letter of notice" to employees are available in the Human Resources Department on campus and at Lincoln Laboratory. The Certification of Health Care Provider form may not be placed in the employee's regular personnel file but must be kept in a separate, secure file.

4.5.7 Continuation of Benefits During FMLA Leave

Health and dental plan coverage and life insurance continue during FMLA leave periods, provided the employee continues to pay the employee's share of the coverage costs.

Under IRS rules, contributions to the MIT Retirement Plan are not allowed during leave without pay periods. Deposits to the Institute's Flexible Reimbursement Account Program also stop during leave without pay periods; however, claims may continue to be filed against an account for a limited period.

Employees should contact the Benefits Office for detailed information and payment arrangements regarding benefits continuation during leave without pay periods.

4.5.8 Returning to Work Following FMLA Leave

At the completion of the approved leave period, an employee will be reinstated to his or her former position or a position of equivalent classification and pay within the department. If the position has been eliminated (due to a reduction in the work force or other operational change under circumstances applying equally to other similar positions in the department), the leave will end, however, efforts will be made to find other suitable employment at the Institute in the same manner as the Institute undertakes for employees not on FMLA leave.

In the case of leave related to an employee's own serious health condition, notice from the health care provider certifying the employee's ability to return to work will be required.

Return from leave should be at the same work week schedule at which the employee was working when he or she left. However, a supervisor may agree to have a full-time employee return on a part-time schedule if it is mutually convenien.

4.5.9 Coordination With Other Laws

The provisions of this policy are intended to be consistent with the FMLA regulations. This policy is not intended to conflict with MIT's obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, Massachusetts State Fair Employment Practice law, the Fair Labor Standards Act, or the Workers Compensation Act which may apply. Copies of applicable regulations are available in the Human Resources Department on campus and in the Human Resources Office at Lincoln Laboratory. See also Section 4.6, Maternity Leave Provisions Under Massachusetts Law.

Questions relating to FMLA leaves may be directed to the Administrative Officer or the Human Resources Officer for the department, or to the Human Resources Representative at Lincoln Laboratory. For Lincoln Laboratory substitute "division" for "department" throughout this leave policy statement.

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