Indiana University

University Human Resources

Family Medical Leave Act Q&A

The following questions and answers are provided only as a guide and are not intended to be definitive on FMLA or Indiana University policy.

What is FMLA?

The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, provides up to 12 weeks of absence to eligible employees for certain family and medical reasons. The purpose of FMLA is to help eligible employees balance work and family obligations while providing an element of job security during the leave period.

What are the eligibility requirements?

Employees must have:

  • worked for the University for at least 12 months (does not have to be consecutive; hourly time counts toward the 12 months); and
  • worked at least 1250 actual work hours for the University in the year preceding the FMLA absence (hourly time also counts). Paid time off (vacation, PTO, sick, holidays, etc.) does not count as a part of the 1250 hours.

Time in the military service covered under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) will count towards fulfilling the length of employment and hours of work requirements to be eligible for an FMLA leave.

Are part time and hourly employees eligible?

They are eligible to apply for FMLA if they meet the criteria listed above.

What option would be available if an employee is not eligible for FMLA and needs to take time off for a birth or serious health condition?

The employee, if not eligible for FMLA, could request a discretionary leave of absence from his/her department once leave accruals are exhausted.

What are reasons for taking FMLA?

Employees can qualify for FMLA due to childbirth or care of the newborn, for adoption or foster care placement, or for the care of a serious health condition for the employee, spouse, dependent child, same sex domestic partner as qualified by the University's Affidavit of Domestic Partnership, child of the same sex domestic partner, or parent of the employee who has a serious health condition. Care of in-laws is not covered.

Who are the family members covered under FMLA?

An employee may use FMLA for his/her own care, the care of a legal spouse, dependant children under age 18, same sex domestic partner as qualified by the University's Affidavit of Domestic Partnership, child of the same sex domestic partner, or the parents of the employee. There are occasional circumstances which would permit an employee to use FMLA if needed to care for an adult dependent or if acting "in loco parentis."

How much notice does an employee need to give for FMLA leave?

Notice of 30 days is required if the absence is foreseeable. If not foreseeable, contact the supervisor as soon as possible.

How is FMLA time paid?

Beginning on the first day of the leave, staff must use all time off accruals as part of the 12-week FMLA leave. An employee's compensatory time must be used prior to the use of any other time off accruals. After all compensatory time is used, the employee may choose the order in which their remaining time-off accruals are expended. Time off accruals that must be used during FMLA leave include holidays, income protection time (sick time), vacation, and PTO for Professional Staff.

May an employee choose which accrued time off to use during the FMLA?

Yes, the employee may choose which accrued time is used first, second, etc. University time off policies may still apply. If an employee has "comp time" available for use, that block of time is not counted as a part of the FMLA absence. Supervisors should be consulted regarding time off usage.

What happens if an employee runs out of paid time during an FMLA absence?

If all paid leave is exhausted, an employee still has FMLA job protection while in a leave without pay status during the remainder of the FMLA leave entitlement.

Is an E-doc used during FMLA?

Initiate an E-doc only when the employee is absent without pay for more than 160 consecutive work hours (20 work days). This ensures that UHRS notifies the employee to make arrangements to continue necessary insurance premiums.

Is there any paperwork that needs to be filled out for FMLA?

There is a form that may be filled out by either the employee or the employer, on behalf of the employee. Supervisors have an obligation to start the FMLA process if aware of an eligible employee with a qualifying FMLA reason. Other forms include a medical certification form and an intent to return to work/release form.

How long does a department have to respond to an apparent FMLA need?

Once a department is aware of an apparent need for FMLA, the employee should be advised within two work days. The department should determine FMLA eligibility of the employee and also advise the employee of the determination.

Is medical certification required?

Medical certification for any serious health condition is required. An employee should obtain a copy of the medical certification form for any serious health condition and take it to the health care provider to be completed. At least 15 calendar days are allowed for the return of the medical certification to an employee's department. 

Is medical certification required for the birth of a child?

No, unless there are medical complications during or following the pregnancy that would fall under the definition as a serious health condition. Proof of the child's birth may be requested.

May a department request re-certification of a serious health condition?

A department may request re-certification from the employee no more often than every 30 days or if the condition of the employee seems to have changed from the original medical statement. The purpose is to reassess or reconfirm the FMLA need by the health care provider.

May the department contact the health care provider for clarification or for answers to questions?

The department is NOT allowed to contact the health care provider. All processing of medical certification or clarification should be handled through the employee.

What counts as a serious health condition?

FMLA qualifying serious health conditions include any of the following:

  • Chronic conditions (diabetes, epilepsy, asthma, etc.) Multiple treatments (chemotherapy, dialysis, etc.) Pregnancy & prenatal care Overnight hospitalization Permanent/long-term conditions (Alzheimer's, terminal disease)
  • Incapacity of more than three calendar days plus treatment 2 times or treatment 1 time and continuing regimen

For further information regarding serious health condition qualifications, consult with your supervisor or HR representatives if you think a condition may qualify.

May an employee have more than one FMLA absence in a year?

Yes, if the employee is eligible. However, 12 weeks (480 hours if 100% FTE) is the maximum time allowed during the calendar year for any and all FMLA absences.

Does a new FMLA application need to be filled out for each FMLA condition?

A new application is usually required for each FMLA qualifying condition, as well as medical certification for each serious health condition.

Is 12 weeks (480 hours if 100% FTE) of FMLA protection always available each calendar year for University employees?

Each year an eligible employee with a qualifying reason, may take up to 12 weeks for his/her own sickness or for the care of a spouse, same sex domestic partner as qualified by the University's Affidavit of Domestic Partnership, child of the same sex domestic partner, parent or dependent child. A total of 12 weeks per calendar year is available for each employee even though an employee may be absent for multiple conditions/reasons or multiple times.

Is FMLA paperwork and information kept confidential?

All FMLA information and paperwork is to be kept confidential and should be kept separate from an employee's personnel file. Only the employee may choose to share the information with coworkers.

May an employee use FMLA on an intermittent basis?

An employee may apply for intermittent FMLA leave. Such leave is granted for such reasons as chronic serious health conditions or ongoing treatments (i.e., chronic asthma, chemotherapy or dialysis treatments). Employees should schedule foreseeable appointments around their normal work schedule and seek department approval on foreseeable absences.

May an employee use FMLA on an intermittent basis for the birth or placement of a child in the employee’s home?

Use of intermittent FMLA leave for the birth of a child, adoption or foster care placement requires the approval of the supervisor.

Can work schedule issues or assignment to alternative positions be considered in the request for intermittent FMLA leave?

An employee temporarily assigned to an alternative position during intermittent FMLA leave must receive the same pay and benefits.

What happens at the end of an FMLA?

An employee on FMLA leave for his/her own serious health condition, is asked to provide an intent to return to work form prior to returning to work when returning from a full time absence. The employee should be able to return and perform the essential functions of the position. The same or an equivalent position is held open during FMLA absences.

What happens to benefits during an FMLA leave?

An employee will continue to earn normal leave and holiday accruals during an FMLA for the period s/he is using any type of paid leave during the absence. Health insurance coverage will continue through the University during an FMLA absence if the employee continues to pay his/her share of the premiums.

Does the University continue to pay a portion of health insurance coverage during an FMLA absence?

An employee may continue participation in all health insurance programs in which enrolled at the regular employee rate and the University will continue to pay the employer portion of the cost.

Who qualifies under the FMLA as a health care provider?

Persons authorized to provide health care services include podiatrists, psychologists, optometrists, chiropractors, dentists, doctors of medicine or osteopathy, nurse practitioners and midwives, clinical social workers, Christian Science practitioners, and any recognized IU health plan.

How is FMLA leave to be recorded?

Track all FMLA time absent on the FMLA Time Designation/Tracking sheet, available under FMLA Resources at this website.

Does an employee apply for FMLA for each calendar year?

Yes, an employee may apply for FMLA at the beginning of each calendar year. The employee must have worked 1250 actual work hours in the calendar year just completed to meet eligibility for FMLA coverage for the new calendar year. If eligible, the employee's FMLA entitlement will be for up to 12 weeks in the new calendar year. Medical certification will be required each year for serious health conditions.

Under what circumstances may an FMLA leave be denied?

FMLA leave may be denied for any of the following reasons:

  • Does not meet eligibility requirements Employee has not been employed by IU for 12 months Employee has not worked 1250 actual work hours in past 12 months Not a qualifying reason for FMLA Calendar year allotment of FMLA (12 weeks) has been exhausted Required medical certification is not provided
  • Fraudulent use of FMLA (i.e., falsification of FMLA documentation or use of FMLA to work another job without required written permission to do so)

What if the employee does not provide the required medical certification?

If the employee refuses to provide required medical certification, the employee is not allowed to use any type of paid leave. The employee would not have FMLA job security protection if the medical certification is refused and the employee would be absent without pay and would be subject to attendance tracking action.

All IU campus locations: Contact your campus HR representative.

IU Bloomington location: Contact the Employee Relations Assistant at 812-856-6047.