Sometimes events occur in an employee’s life that may require a Family and Medical Leave (FML) and the Integrated Disability & Absence Management (IDAM) Services team is here to help.
Where eligible, an employee may request a full absence away from work, intermittent days off, or a reduction in work hours. Examples of qualifying reasons for a FML are as follows:
- To seek treatment and recover from your own serious health condition
- To provide care to a family member with a serious health condition (excluding in-laws)
- To attend medical appointments related to a serious health condition (for either yourself or a family member)
- To bond with a newborn or adopted child, or a child placed with you for foster care
- For pregnancy reasons such as attending pre- and post-natal medical appointments, recovery from childbirth, or recovery from a pregnancy-related condition
- For any “qualifying exigency” arising from the foreign deployment of the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent with the Armed Forces
- To care for a service member of the Armed Forces with a serious injury or illness if the employee is the spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin
Things to Know:
- If you are going to be off work for five (5) days or longer, a formal approved FML should be initiated even if you have accrued enough sick and vacation time and plan to use it.
- When you plan to use sick leave for your own serious health condition or a family member’s serious health condition, you should consult with an IDAM Analyst regarding FML protections for your FML.
- You should notify your supervisor of any absences related to serious health conditions, but you should not disclose personal medical information to your supervisor. All medical documentation should be sent to IDAM for coordination.
- FML requests should be initiated at least 30 days in advance, or as soon as possible.
- Medical certification forms or other required documents must be completed and submitted to IDAM within the established deadlines.
- All employees who have been off work for five (5) or more consecutive days must report to Health Services (Building 26) before returning to work. If employees have a medical release from their personal care physician, they should provide it to Health Services.
- Any non-medical leaves of absence must be handled via your Human Resources Division Partner.
For additional information, please see the Family and Medical Leave policy or the appropriate collective bargaining agreement.
To initiate a FML please complete the Leave of Absence Request Form or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that grants an eligible employee up to 12 weeks/480 hours of unpaid, job and benefit protected leave in a calendar year for any of the following reasons:
- a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the employee’s job;
- to care for the employee’s spouse, son, daughter or parent, who has a serious health condition;
- incapacity due to pregnancy, prenatal medical care or child birth;
- to care for the employee’s child after birth, or placement for adoption or foster care; or military exigency (as described in detail below)
This protected leave is unpaid; however, you may be required to use your accrued sick and vacation leave and can file for short-term disability leave, as per lab policy or the applicable collective bargaining agreement.
To be eligible for FMLA benefits, an employee must have:
- At least 12 months of Laboratory/University service (need not be continuous), and
- At least 1,250 hours of work in the 12 months immediately preceding the leave
NOTE: For employees with medical insurance coverage through Kaiser Permanente, please note that you will need to follow their internal procedure for obtaining FMLA paperwork from your healthcare provider. Please visit Kaiser Permanente’s website for more information, necessary forms, and contact information for the Release of Medical Information (ROMI) Department nearest you.
FMLA Outline of Serious Health Conditions
Serious Health Conditions – A “serious health condition” means an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves one of the following:
1. Inpatient Care
Inpatient care (i.e. an overnight stay) in a hospital, hospice, or residential medical care facility, including any period of incapacity or subsequent treatment in connection with or consequent to such inpatient care.
2. Incapacity of More Than 3 Consecutive Days Plus Continuing Treatment by a Healthcare Provider
A period of incapacity of more than three consecutive calendar days (including any subsequent treatment or period of incapacity relating to the same condition), that also involves:
- Treatment of two or more times by a healthcare provider, by a nurse or physician’s assistant under direct supervision of a healthcare provider, or by a provider of healthcare services (e.g. physical therapist) under orders of, or on referral by, a healthcare provider; OR
- Treatment by a healthcare provider on at least one occasion which results in a regimen of continuing treatment under the supervision of the healthcare provider (e.g. a course of prescription medication, or therapy requiring special equipment, to resolve or alleviate the health condition). Note: This does not include taking over-the-counter medications or activities that can be initiated without a visit to a healthcare provider (e.g. bed rest, exercise, drinking fluids).
A period of incapacity due to pregnancy, childbirth, or related health conditions. This includes severe morning sickness and prenatal care.
4. Chronic Conditions Requiring Treatment
A chronic condition which:
- Requires periodic visits for treatment by a healthcare provider, or by a nurse or physician’s assistant under direct supervision of a healthcare provider;
- Continues over an extended period of time (including recurring episodes of a single underlying condition); and
- May cause episodic rather than a continuing period of incapacity (e.g. asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, etc.).
5. Permanent/Long-Term Conditions Requiring Supervision
A period of incapacity that is permanent or long-term due to a condition for which treatment may not be effective. The employee or family member must be under the continuing supervision of, but need not be receiving active treatment by, a healthcare provider. Examples include Alzheimer’s, a severe stroke, or the terminal stages of a disease.
6. Multiple Treatments (Non-Chronic Conditions)
Any period of absence to receive multiple treatments (including any period of recovery therefrom) by a healthcare provider or by a provider of healthcare services under orders of, or on referral by, a healthcare provider, either for restorative surgery after an accident or other 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, such as cancer (chemotherapy, radiation, etc.) severe arthritis (physical therapy), or kidney disease (dialysis).
California Family Rights Act (CFRA)
CFRA generally provides the same eligibility and protections as FMLA:
- This protected leave is unpaid; however, you may be required to use your accrued sick and vacation leave and can file for short-term disability leave, as per lab policy or the applicable collective bargaining agreement.
- Leave runs concurrently with FMLA except it does not provide leave for disability due to pregnancy, childbirth, or related health conditions (this is covered by Pregnancy Disability Leave)
CFRA begins when Pregnancy Disability Leave ends, and it runs concurrently with any remaining FMLA leave.
Arrival of a New Child
Understanding Pregnancy-Related Leaves
California Pregnancy Disability Leave Law (PDLL)
PDLL is part of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). It requires employers to provide an employee up to four months of leave for disability due to an employee’s pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical condition.
- No eligibility requirements aside from pregnancy.
- Provides up to 4 months (17 1/3 weeks) of medically necessary pregnancy disability leave, while the employee is actually disabled due to a pregnancy-related condition. For a normal pregnancy, this time frame is usually 2 weeks prior to the birth, and 6-8 weeks after the birth.
- PDLL is not for an automatic period of time, but for the period of time that you are disabled by a pregnancy-related health condition. Your healthcare provider determines how much time you will need.
PDLL versus CFRA and FMLA
FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) – a federal law allowing a qualifying employee to take up to 12 weeks of time off work due to a serious medical condition also applies to pregnancy, childbirth, or related condition. CFRA (California Family Rights Act) expressly excludes pregnancy and childbirth from its list of conditions entitling an employee to a CFRA leave.
PDLL and FMLA Run Concurrently
PDLL and FMLA will run concurrently. Thus, if an employee uses 12 weeks of PDLL, they will also have exhausted the 12 weeks of their FMLA leave allowance.
PDLL and CFRA do not Run Concurrently
Since CFRA leave rights do not apply to pregnancy and related conditions, PDLL and CFRA do not overlap. Thus, after taking PDLL/FMLA leave, an employee can take up to 12 weeks of CFRA leave Parental Bonding Leave, assuming that the CFRA entitled for that year has not yet been exhausted for other reasons.
For additional information refer to the following:
- Family and Medical Leave Policy
- University of California Fact Sheet on Pregnancy, Newborn Child and Adopted Child
- Your Rights and Obligations as a Pregnant Employee
Pay While on Parental Bonding Leave
Eligible represented and non-represented employees may use Pay for Family Care and Bonding (PFCB) if taking a Family and Medical Leave (FML) for parental bonding. Under PFCB, employees receive 70% of their eligible earnings for up to eight workweeks per calendar year. For additional information see the Pay While on a Family and Medical Leave (FML) section or refer to the Pay for Family Care and Bonding policy.
Postdocs may continue to use four weeks of paid parental leave under their collective bargaining agreement (CBA). Postdocs are currently not eligible for PFCB.
Programs for Pregnant Employees and Nursing Mothers
Pregnant Employee Parking Program
Pregnant employees can receive temporary authorization to park in any General and Blue Triangle parking space with the exception of Reserved parking spaces and Government Vehicle parking spaces. The use of Blue Triangle parking is for personal use only during pregnancy, not afterward. To make a request please complete the Temporary Blue Triangle Lab Parking Form and submit it to IDAM. For additional information see the Parking at Berkeley Lab policy.
Lactation Accommodation Program
Berkeley Lab’s goal is to provide a supportive, family-friendly work environment. To accommodate nursing mothers, we have a Lactation Accommodation Program that provides the time and space for your needs. For additional information see the Lactation Accommodation policy.
Military Family Leave Entitlements (covered under FMLA)
Eligible employees whose spouse, son, daughter or parent is on covered active duty or called to covered active duty status may use their 12-week leave entitlement to address certain qualifying exigencies. Qualifying exigencies may include attending certain military events, arranging for alternative childcare, addressing certain financial and legal arrangements, attending certain counseling sessions and attending post-deployment reintegration briefings.
FMLA also includes a special leave entitlement that permits eligible employees to take up to 26 weeks of leave to care for a covered service member during a single 12-month period. A covered service member is:
- a current member of the Armed Forces, including a member of the National Guard or Reserves, who is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation or therapy, is otherwise in outpatient status, or is otherwise on temporary disability retired list, for serious injury or illness*;
- a veteran who was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable at any time during the five-year period prior to the first date the eligible employee takes FMLA leave to care for the covered veteran, and who is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy for a serious injury or illness.*
* The FML definitions of “serious injury or illness” for current service members and veterans are distinct from the FML definition of “serious health condition”. Please see the FML exigency leave factsheet and The Employee’s Guide to Military Family Leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act for detailed information.
If you are going out on Military Leave, please contact your Human Resources Division Partner(s).
Pay While on a Family and Medical Leave (FML)
Family and Medical Leave entitles employees to a job-protected unpaid leave of absence. However, eligible employees have the following options for receiving pay while on FML:
- Leave Accruals – If you accrue vacation, sick leave, and/or PTO, you may be able to use those accruals during FML.
- Paid Parental Leave – Represented postdoctoral fellows may use paid parental leave under their collective bargaining agreement (CBA).
- Pay for Family Care and Bonding (PFCB) – Eligible employees may use PFCB if taking a FML leave for parental bonding or to care for a family member. Under PFCB, employees receive 70% of their eligible earnings for up to eight workweeks per calendar year.
- Catastrophic Leave – Eligible employees may be able to request additional vacation leave from a vacation leave bank to which other employees have donated. For additional information see the Catastrophic Leave Sharing section.
- Disability Benefits – Eligible employees may file a claim for disability benefits. For additional information see the Disability Benefits section.
- Workers’ Compensation – Employees who are injured or become ill while on the job may be eligible for Workers’ Compensation. See the Workers’ Compensation section.
For employees who need to take a leave without pay, refer to the University of California Fact Sheet on Leave Without Pay.
Pay for Family Care and Bonding (PFCB)
Pay for Family Care and Bonding (PFCB) was introduced on July 1, 2021 as an income replacement option for eligible represented and non-represented employees while on a Family and Medical Leave (FML). At Berkeley Lab, a new PFCB policy will replace the Paid Parental Leave policy, which will be retired on July 1, 2022.
Key information about PFCB:
- Employees receive 70% of their eligible earnings for up to eight workweeks per calendar year.
- Employees must be on an approved FML for the following leave types:
- Care for a family member with a serious health condition
- Bonding with a new child
- Military Caregiver Leave
- Qualifying Exigency Leave
- PFCB may only be taken as a block leave in a minimum one week increment. Once an employee starts using PFCB it must be used for the duration of the leave.
- PFCB may not be taken as intermittent leave.
Things to Consider if using PFCB:
- As PFCB only pays 70% of eligible earnings, employees are advised to review their payroll deductions to ensure sufficient income while using PFCB. For assistance employees may contact the Benefits Office at email@example.com.
- While using PFCB employees will accrue vacation leave, sick leave, and UCRP service credit as if they were on pay status at 70% time.
For additional information on PFCB refer to the following:
Catastrophic Leave Sharing
The Catastrophic Leave Sharing Program enables Berkeley Lab employees to donate vacation on an hour-for-hour basis, regardless of differing pay scales, to a catastrophic leave bank. Catastrophic Leave is available to an employee:
- Who has exhausted sick and vacation leave due to a catastrophic illness or injury affecting the employee or an eligible person, or
- Who has experienced a catastrophic casualty loss, or
- Who has a catastrophic bereavement loss, and
- Is on an approved leave of absence
Participation as a donor is entirely voluntary and applies only to the donation of vacation credit. Once given, the vacation-credit donation is irrevocable. Donations are anonymous.
Only career and term employees are eligible for Catastrophic Leave under the Catastrophic Leave Sharing policy. Represented employees should consult their collective bargaining agreement.
To initiate a request for Catastrophic Leave, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like to donate vacation hours to the Catastrophic Leave bank, send an email to email@example.com.
For additional information see the Catastrophic Leave Sharing policy.
UC Supplemental Family Leave
If you find that you need more leave after exhausting the time allowed for Family and Medical Leave (FML), you may be eligible to take UC Supplemental FML for up to 12 additional workweeks or until the end of the leave year, whichever is less. UC’s contributions to health insurance premiums don’t continue during Supplemental FML.
For more information, see the Family and Medical Leave policy.
Employee Responsibilities Prior to Going on a Family and Medical Leave (FML)
- Provide sufficient information for the employer to determine if the leave may qualify for FML protection and the anticipated timing and duration of the leave.
- Inform the employer if the requested leave is for a reason for which FML leave was previously taken or certified.
- Provide a completed medical certification from your healthcare provider to the IDAM Analyst.
- Understand how taking medical leave may affect your benefit coverage.
- If the employee is off pay status for a month or longer (not receiving a paycheck from LBNL), the employee will need to pay benefit premiums directly to the Benefits Office to continue benefits coverage.
- The HR Benefits Office will send a Benefit Premium Continuation letter to the employee’s home address with detailed information on the benefit premiums due and deadline for submitting payments.
- Ensure your contact information is updated and accurate. Keep your address, phone number and other contact information up to date up through Employee Self Service.
- Initiate disability insurance claims directly with Lincoln Financial (or Standard Insurance for postdoctoral scholars) if you plan on filing a disability claim. For more detailed information on filing disability claims, please see IDAM’s page on Disability Accommodation in the Workplace.
Employee Responsibilities While on a Family and Medical Leave (FML)
- If not medically cleared to work, do not perform work.
- Make sure your time is entered into LETS accurately. LETS time can be entered by the employee, supervisor or LETS timekeeper. Generally, when an employee is off work, the LETS timekeeper or supervisor will enter time into LETS using the LETS codes as indicated by the IDAM Analyst.
- Do not let your benefits coverage lapse. If you are on unpaid leave, you must make any necessary benefit premium payments directly to the HR Benefits Office within payroll processing deadlines.
- If your leave was due to a Maternity Leave or Baby Bonding, notify the IDAM Analyst as soon as possible with the actual date of the birth of the baby, so the leave designation information can be updated.
- Enroll your new baby into your benefits within 31 days of birth, adoption or placement using the Benefit Enrollment Form (UPAY 850) and send the completed form to the HR Benefits Office for processing.
- Stay in communication with the IDAM Analyst, supervisor and Health Services. If your leave is extended beyond the date originally identified by your healthcare provider, notify the IDAM Analyst and Health Services immediately, and provide the updated medical information.
- Cooperatively participate in the interactive process if you believe you will need disability accommodation when you return to work.
- If you need leave intermittently or a reduced work schedule, make a reasonable effort to schedule treatment so as not to interrupt the operations of your work group.
Employee Responsibilities When Returning to Work after a Family and Medical Leave (FML)
- Employees returning to work after five (5) or more consecutive workdays due to illness or injury must report to Health Services (Building 26) for an evaluation of their condition and ability to resume customary work. Returning employees are required to provide a medical release to return to work from their healthcare provider. This release must include any information regarding medical restrictions that may affect the employee’s ability to perform their job, as certified by the treating healthcare provider.
Employees returning from a FML of five (5) or more consecutive days for their own serious health condition must take the completed Return to Work Certification Form to Health Services for clearance to return to work.
- Review LETS to make sure the medical leave was recorded correctly and immediately report any problems to your timekeeper for correction, and notify your supervisor and IDAM Analyst so the proper corrections can be made.
- If you were on unpaid leave during your FML, contact the HR Benefits Office, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (510) 486-6403 to ensure that your benefit coverage is restored to the coverage that you had prior to your FML. Note: You may be responsible for paying benefit premiums while on a leave of absence.
- If you were not getting paid by Berkeley Lab payroll while on a FML, you may be able to buy back UCRP service credit for your leave period. Generally the sooner you do this, the less it will cost you. For more information, review the UCRP Service Credit Purchase Guide.
- Review the University of California Fact Sheet on Partial Disability Stay at Home/Return to Work Program to get information regarding returning to work on a reduced schedule.
- Request a FML packet be sent to an employee if the employee informs you of the need to take medical leave of five or more days or if an employee needs to take an intermittent or reduced work schedule even if the employee has sick/vacation time accruals. The employee needs to be officially notified of their FML eligibility and their rights and responsibilities.
- Do not discuss medical diagnoses. Do discuss whether the employee needs a leave of absence. If the employee takes a leave of absence, you may ask about the return-to-work date.
- Review, approve, and release the employee’s time card as per the instructions received from the IDAM Analyst.
- If the employee was off work for five or more days, make sure the employee was seen by Health Services and was cleared to return to work. If the employee has work restrictions, contact the IDAM staff for assistance with the interactive process and to ensure reasonable accommodation is provided if necessary.
- Contact the IDAM Analyst with any questions regarding an employee’s medical leave.
The Supervisor Toolkit outlines instructions on transitioning an employee back to work and provides supervisors the necessary tools to support Stay at Work/Return to Work procedures.
Berkeley Lab’s Return to Work Program mission is to assist employees who have a medical condition or impairment, who have been released to return to work from a leave of absence or medical care, back to productive employment, thereby reducing the impact of disability in the workplace and retaining valuable employees.
Initially developed by and for Berkeley Lab supervisors as part of Berkeley Lab’s overall ADA/FEHA Compliance program, the Supervisor Toolkit provides practical suggestions to address the issues and situations that supervisors face with respect to the Stay at Work/Return to Work Transitional Work Program.
The Supervisor Toolkit does not replace, take precedence, or assume authority over official Berkeley Lab policies, procedures, PUB3000, or the RPM. The toolkit is designed to aid with the implementation and administration of UC and Berkeley Lab policies and procedures.
The Supervisor Toolkit is regularly reviewed and tailored to meet the needs of Berkeley Lab supervisors.
LETS Timekeeper Responsibilities While An Employee Is Out On Approved Medical Leave
- Review, enter, and release the employee’s time in as per the instructions received from the IDAM Analyst.
- Process any necessary corrections to the employee’s time card.