Published on Rhodes College: College Handbook Employee Policies (

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires the College to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to “eligible” employees for certain family and medical reasons in a 12-month period (the 12-month period measured forward from the date an employee’s first FMLA leave begins). Each time an employee utilizes more than three (3) consecutive sick days, the employee’s Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) benefits will begin and the total amount of the employee’s FMLA benefits will be reduced by the amount of sick leave utilized. When an employee utilizes FMLA leave, the remaining leave entitlement will be the balance of the twelve weeks that has not been used during the immediately preceding twelve-month period. Employees wishing to request a Leave of Absence under FMLA should submit such a request in writing to the Human Resources Office.

The College will grant an employee up to 12 weeks of leave if that employee has been employed for at least 12 months and has worked as least 1,250 hours during the 12 months before the leave is to begin. A leave will be granted for one or more of the following reasons:

  • To care for the employee’s child after birth, or placement for adoption or foster care. This leave is required to be taken all at one time (refer to the Maternity Leave section for additional information).
  • To care for the employee’s spouse, son or daughter, or parent who has a serious health condition. This leave may be taken intermittently or on a reduced time basis (e.g., by working fewer days in a week or by working fewer hours in a day), but only if such a schedule is needed for medical reasons.
  • For a serious health condition, where the employee is unable to perform their job. As with a family member’s illness, this leave can be taken intermittently or on a reduced time basis if medically necessary.
  • To address qualified exigencies related to the employee’s spouse, son, daughter or parent on active duty or call to active duty status in the National Guard or Reserves in support of a contingency operation. 

The College will grant an employee 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 has a serious injury or illness incurred in the line of duty on active duty. The injury or illness may render the service member medically unfit to perform their duties for which the service member is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy; or is in outpatient status; or is on the temporary disability retired list.

The definition of a serious health condition includes, but is not limited to: (a) inpatient care in a hospital, hospice, or residential medical care facility, or (b) continuing treatment by a health care provider. Continuing treatment may include a period of incapacity of more than 3 consecutive days combined with at least two visits to a health care provider, or one visit and a regimen of continuing treatment. 

A qualified exigency may include attending certain military events, arranging for alternative childcare, addressing financial and legal arrangements, attending counseling sessions, and attending post-deployment reintegration briefings.

The College may require certification from a health care provider. Medical certification should include the date the condition commenced, the probable duration of the condition, dates and duration of any planned treatment and any appropriate medical facts regarding the condition. For a family member’s condition, a statement from the health care provider saying that the employee is needed to care for the family member may be required. For the employee’s condition, a statement from the health care provider indicating that the employee is unable to perform the essential functions of the employee's job may be required. If the leave is to be taken intermittently or on a reduced schedule the certification should include a statement of the medical necessity for intermittent leave or reduced schedule. A complete and sufficient certification must be received within 15 calendar days after the College’s request for certification.

If the employee does not provide the requested certification within the time required or fails to provide a complete and sufficient certification despite the opportunity to cure any deficiencies, the College may deny the employee’s request for FMLA leave.

Failure to return to work at the end of a leave of absence will be considered a resignation. Any employee who has been on leave of absence for over 180 days is terminated automatically, unless the leave is for any work related or non-work related disability, the employee remains unable to work due to the disability, and a reasonable accommodation can be made. Any employee who believes that he or she needs additional leave in excess of 180 days as reasonable accommodation should contact the HR office as soon as possible so the College may consider whether it can grant the extension without causing undue hardship, or if another reasonable accommodation is available. Any termination under this policy is “no fault.”

In addition, the College may, at its own expense, require a second opinion from a different health care provider chosen by the College. If there is a conflict of opinion, the College may (again at its own expense) require a third opinion from a provider jointly designated by the College and the employee.

The College may further require that the eligible employee obtain subsequent recertification if the employee requests an extension of leave or if circumstances have changed significantly from the original certification. In cases of chronic or long-term conditions the College may request recertification every 30 days in connection with an absence. 

When an employee takes leave for the foreseeable birth, placement, or adoption of a child, the employee must give three months advance written notice of intent to leave, otherwise “practicable” notice is required. Similarly, an employee who can foresee the need to take leave either for their own medical treatment or to take a spouse, child, or parent for treatment, is required to “make a reasonable effort to schedule the treatment so as not to disrupt unduly” the department’s operation.

While on leave under the FMLA the employee will continue to receive applicable medical benefit plan benefits. Thus, the employee would be required to pay the applicable employee premium. If, however, the employee fails to return to work at the expiration of the leave, the College may recapture the amount it contributed to the employee’s medical benefit plan during the leave, unless the failure to return to work is due to a serious health condition or due to circumstances beyond the employee’s control. Sick leave and vacation benefits will not continue to accrue during any period of the leave.

Staff employees on leave under FMLA will be required to exhaust all accrued sick and vacation time. Any additional weeks of leave necessary to attain the twelve (12) work weeks of leave required by the Act would then be provided without compensation or under the Short-Term Disability policy (refer to “Short-Term Disability Leave” policy section). A faculty member on leave under FMLA for their own illness is paid according to their current contract.

Employees returning from FMLA leave will be reinstated to their previous or an “equivalent position” without loss of any benefits that accrued prior to the leave.


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