Sometimes events occur in an employee’s life which may require a leave of absence. The Lab has a variety of leave of absence policies, and the Integrated Disability & Absence Management Services (IDAM) 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 leave 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 siblings and 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 leave of absence 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 FMLA protections for your leave of absence.
- 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.
- Leave 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) with a medical release before returning to work.
- Any non-medical leaves of absence must be handled via your Human Resources Division Partner(s).
If you need to take a leave of absence for any of the reasons stated above, please review the sections below.
COVID-19 and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
On April 1, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced new action regarding how American workers and employers will benefit from the protections and relief offered by the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act, both part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).
The Department of Labor (DOL)’s website has provided detailed information regarding FMLA Expansion contained in Questions & Answers, Fact Sheets, and Webinars. Please review the updated policy guidelines related to the COVID-19 pandemic for employees who are ill or are caring for ill family members and whether such leave is covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
This DOL poster explains the FFCRA’s expanded FMLA provisions that will apply from April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020.
Please visit COVID-19 Information site for the latest news and information on LBNL’s response to the pandemic.
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
California Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL)
- Under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA)
- 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.
- No eligibility requirements aside from pregnancy.
- PDL runs concurrently with FMLA but not with CFRA
- PDL 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.
Paid Parental Leave (PPL)
This leave policy applies to non-represented Career, Term, Visiting Researcher, and some Limited employees. Any represented employee whose collective agreement currently contains language regarding a paid parental leave benefit will continue to have that benefit provided for in that agreement.
- Use of intermittent leave in two blocks of no less than 2 weeks
- Extension of eligibility to employees having a child via gestational carrier (surrogate) or donor genetic material
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 spaces with the exception of Reserved parking spaces and Government Vehicle parking spaces. The use of Blue Triangle parking is for your personal use only during your pregnancy, not afterward. Please complete the Temporary Blue Triangle Lab Parking Form and submit it to IDAM.
Lactation Accommodation Program
LBNL’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.
Understanding Pregnancy-Related Leaves
The California Pregnancy Disability Leave law (PDL) is part of 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.
PDL 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, child birth or related condition. CFRA (California Family Rights Act) expressly excludes pregnancy and child birth from its list of conditions entitling an employee to a CFRA leave.
PDL and FMLA Run Concurrently
PDL and FMLA will run concurrently. Thus, if an employee uses 12 weeks of PDL, she will also have exhausted the 12 weeks of her FMLA Leave allowance.
PDL and CFRA do not Run Concurrently
Since CFRA leave rights do not apply to pregnancy and related conditions, PDL and CFRA do not overlap. Thus, after taking PDL/FMLA leave, an employee can take up to 12 weeks of CFRA leave “for reasons of the birth of her child, if the child has been born by this date,” assuming that CFRA entitled for that year has not yet been exhausted for other reasons. This is also referenced occasionally as “bonding” leave.
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 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 FMLA definitions of “serious injury or illness” for current service members and veterans are distinct from the FMLA definition of “serious health condition”. Please see the FMLA 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).
Voluntary Vacation/Catastrophic Leave
This policy enables LBNL employees to donate vacation time on an hour-for-hour basis, regardless of differing pay scales, to another employee:
- Who has exhausted sick and vacation leave due to a catastrophic illness or injury affecting the employee or an eligible person, as defined below, or
- Who has experienced a catastrophic casualty loss, or
- Who has a catastrophic bereavement loss, and
- Is on an approved Family and Medical Leave, Personal, or Bereavement leave of absence
Participation is entirely voluntary and applies only to the donation of vacation credit. Once given, the vacation-credit donation is irrevocable. Donations are anonymous unless the donor chooses to self-identify.
Career and Term employees are eligible to participate in this policy. Represented employees should consult their collective bargaining agreement. Postdoctoral Scholars and all other employees are ineligible to participate in this policy.
Supplemental Leave & Leave Without Pay
If you find that you need more leave after exhausting the time allowed for Family Medical Leave, and you’re covered by UC’s Personnel Policies for Staff Members, you may be able to take 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, please refer to the UC Policy.
For employees who need to take a leave without pay, please refer to the University of California Fact Sheet on Leave Without Pay.
Employee Responsibilities Prior to Going on Medical Leave
- Provide sufficient information for the employer to determine if the leave may qualify for FMLA protection and the anticipated timing and duration of the leave.
- Inform the employer if the requested leave is for a reason for which FMLA 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 Medical Leave
- 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 Medical Leave
- 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 an absence of five (5) or more consecutive days for a FMLA-related absence 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 medical leave, contact the HR Benefits Office, at [email protected] or (510) 486-6403 to ensure that your benefit coverage is restored to the coverage that you had prior to your medical leave. Note: You may be responsible for paying benefit premiums while on a leave of absence.
- If you were not getting paid by LBNL payroll while on a medical leave, 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.
Supervisor’s Toolkit outlines instructions on transitioning an employee back to work, providing supervisors the necessary tools to support Stay at Work/Return to Work procedures.
LBNL’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, thus retaining valuable employees.
Initially developed by and for LBNL supervisors as part of LBNL’s overall ADA/FEHA Compliance program, the Supervisor’s 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 LBNL policies, procedures, PUB3000, or the RPM. The toolkit is designed to aid with the implementation and administration of UC and LBNL policies and procedures.
The Supervisor Toolkit is regularly reviewed and tailored to meet the needs of LBNL 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.
How to Request a Leave of Absence
How to Initiate a Leave of Absence Request
To initiate a request to take a leave of absence, please complete the Leave of Absence Request Form.