Family and Medical Leave

Missouri State University provides Family and Medical Leave (FML) in accordance with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 and subsequent amendments. FMLA provides eligible employees who work for covered employers the right to take unpaid, job-protected leave for absences due to a qualifying event.

This policy outlines information also obtained in the Department of Labor poster. The terms referenced in this policy are defined as outlined in Department of Labor regulations and any inconsistencies between this policy and the regulations are resolved in favor of the regulations (29 CFR Part 825).

Employee eligibility

Eligible employees who have a qualifying event and provide appropriate notice and requested certification(s) are entitled to a total of 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave and health insurance continuation during a rolling 12-month period, except military caregiver leave which can be up to 26 weeks. The minimum requirements for an employee to be eligible for FML:

  • Worked for the university for at least 12 months;
  • Worked at least 1,250 hours in the 12 months prior to when the leave will commence;
  • Has not used all available FML in the 12 months prior to when the leave will commence; and
  • Has a qualifying event.

Qualifying event

  • A qualifying event under FMLA includes:
  • Birth and care of the employee’s newborn child;
  • Placement of a child with the employee for adoption, or by the state for foster care;
  • To care for the employee’s spouse, sponsored dependent, child or parent with a serious health condition (this does not include in-laws);
  • The employee’s own serious health condition that prevents him or her from performing the employee’s job;
  • “Any qualifying exigency” for an employee’s spouse, sponsored dependent, child or parent on active military duty or being called to active military duty; or
  • Caring for a spouse, sponsored dependent, child, parent or next-of-kin who is a member of the Armed Forces and who is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation or therapy for a serious injury or illness suffered in the line of duty on active duty.

Amount and timing of leave

Eligible employees may take up to 12 weeks of FML during a rolling 12-month period for the first five qualifying events above. Only military caregiver leave, the 6th qualifying event above, provides an entitlement to 26 weeks. The 12-month period is defined as the 12 months prior to when the leave will commence. Eligible employees may take leave in the following manner:

  • Family leave for the birth or adoption of a child must be taken within 12 months of the birth or adoption of the child.
  • Leave for birth or adoption shall be limited to one consecutive leave period; it may not be taken on an intermittent or reduced time basis, e.g., every other day or a couple of hours every day.
  • As consecutive weeks or on an intermittent basis when medically necessary, or for qualifying exigencies. Employees must attempt to schedule intermittent leave to minimize disruption of normal operations

Employee request and notice

The Family and Medical Leave Act not only mandates certain protections and benefits for employees who apply for it, but also specifies that it is the employer's responsibility to determine when an employee's absence should be considered as protected leave under this law. Therefore, the university has the legal authority to consider an employee's absence as family and medical leave when it has sufficient evidence that the absence is due to an FMLA-qualifying reason, or the circumstances of the absence are such that the university should reasonably suspect that the absence is for an FMLA purpose, even if the employee has not applied for family and medical leave.

How to request FML

  • An employee requesting leave under the FMLA provision should meet with a benefits specialist from the office of human resources to complete the necessary forms.
  • The office of human resources will inform the employee about the procedure and the need to submit complete and sufficient supporting medical and/or military documentation.
  • If the university requires medical certification to support a request for Family and Medical Leave, the employee will have 15 calendar days from the date he/she receives the FMLA packet from the office of human resources to provide the university with certification.
  • Failure to provide the medical certification may result in a delay or denial of the requested leave. The office of human resources shall have final approval of all family leave requests.
  • When leave is foreseeable, an employee must give the university 30 days advance notice.
  • In addition, when foreseeable leave is for planned medical treatment, the employee must make a reasonable effort to schedule the treatment so as not to unduly disrupt the University's operations. If it is not possible to provide 30 days notice, as much notice as is practical must be provided.
  • An employee on leave is required to report any change in his/her status, duration of leave or intent to return to office of human resources. During the leave, the university may require periodic recertification supporting the need for leave.

Pay and benefits during leave

The office of human resources will promptly inform the employee of the status of pay and benefits.

Pay guidelines

  • FML is usually unpaid, but the employee may use accrued, unused paid time off, such as vacation or sick leave, during the absence.
  • An employee electing to use any type of paid leave concurrently with FML must follow the same terms and conditions of the leave policies that apply to other employees for use of paid leave.
  • FML will be unpaid If an employee elects not to use accrued paid leave or has none available.
  • While on an unpaid FML, employees will not accrue sick or vacation time during a month in which they have not been paid for 80 or more hours.
  • Employees on FML will not be paid for a holiday(s) that occurs during the period that they are on leave.

Continuation of benefits

  • For the duration of the approved FML, the university will maintain the employee’s benefits at the same level and under the same conditions as if the employee had continued work. The employee is required to continue to pay his/her contribution to dependent insurance or other elective benefit costs.
  • If on paid leave, premiums will be deducted from pay as usual.
  • If some or all of the leave will be without pay, information on how and when to make premium payments will be provided to the employee. If necessary, employees will be allowed to discontinue coverage and be reinstated to the plan, if they return to work on or before expiration of the Family and Medical leave.
  • If the employee does not return to work with the university, or returns for less than a period of 30 days after the leave has ended, the employee will owe the university the cost of any benefits provided during the entire duration of the Family and Medical Leave, including the employer contribution to the employee’s health benefits.
  • No such amount shall be owed if there is a reoccurrence or onset of a serious health condition, or if, in the opinion of the university, there is a change of circumstances beyond the employee’s control.

Return to work

  • Employees should notify the office of human resources of their intent to return to work two weeks prior to the anticipated date of return, or of any medically necessary changes in the date of return.
  • If the leave was due to a serious health condition as defined by the FMLA, the university will require a “fitness for duty” certification from the health care provider, verifying the employee’s ability to return to work, with or without restrictions.
  • Employees may also be required to submit to a medical examination before returning to work.
  • If employees return to work on or before the expiration of available FML, they will normally be returned to their former position or an equivalent job. If, however, they do not return at the expiration of FML, there is no guarantee of reinstatement.