Unpaid Leave

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Family and Medical Leave (FML)

What is the Family and Medical Leave Act?

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a benefit that provides eligible employees up to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave* a year and requires group health benefits to be maintained during the leave as if employees continued to work instead of taking leave. Employees are also entitled to return to their same or an equivalent job at the end of their Family and Medical Leave (FML).

The FMLA also provides certain military family leave entitlements. Eligible employees may take FML for specified reasons related to certain military deployments of their family members. Additionally, they may take up to 26 weeks of FMLA leave in a single 12-month period to care for a covered service member with a serious injury or illness.

*UT System requires employees to use their existing paid leave balances concurrently with FML. An employee may not be placed on unpaid leave unless all applicable paid leave balances have been exhausted.

Who is eligible for FML?

Employees who have:

  • worked at least 1,250 hours with the state during the 12-month period immediately preceding the commencement of leave; and
  • at least 12 months of state service. The 12 months of employment need not be consecutive. However, periods of employment that precede a break in state service of seven years or more do not count toward the 12-month requirement. *

* See HOP 3.3.1 Leave Policy, Sec. 13 for additional info.

When can an eligible employee use FML?

The following reasons qualify under FML:

  • for the birth of a son or daughter to bond with the newborn child;
  • for the placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care to bond with that child;
  • to care for an immediate family member (spouse, child, or parent – but not a parent “in-law”) with a serious health condition;
  • to take medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition; or
  • for qualifying exigencies arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter or parent is on covered active duty or call to covered active duty status as a member of the National Guard, Reserves or Regular Armed Forces.

What is a serious health condition?

The most common serious health conditions that qualify for FML leave are:

  • conditions requiring an overnight stay in a hospital or other medical care facility;
  • conditions that incapacitate you or your family member (for example, unable to work or attend school) for more than three consecutive days and have ongoing medical treatment (either multiple appointments with a health care provider, or a single appointment and follow-up care such as prescription medication);
  • chronic conditions that cause occasional periods when you or your family member are incapacitated and require treatment by a health care provider at least twice a year; and
  • pregnancy (including prenatal medical appointments, incapacity due to morning sickness, and medically required bed rest).

Responsibilities under FML

Employee responsibilities

  • notify the Office of Human Resources (OHR) 30 days in advance of the need to take FML when foreseeable;
  • notify your manager of the need for FML (do not share medical information);
  • submit the required forms to OHR;
  • maintain appropriate contact with your manager and OHR regarding your return-to-work status.

An employee's failure to provide information in a timely manner may result in the delay or denial of FML.

Please do not share medical information with anyone outside of OHR. Medical information is confidential and should be maintained solely between the employee and OHR.

FML Process

Application

  • OHR is notified of a potential FML situation by the employee, manager, or HR liaison. Send notifications to leave@utsystem.edu.
  • OHR sends an email to the employee (copied to the manager and HR liaison) with general FML info.
  • OHR sends an email to the employee containing FML documents & forms.
  • Employee submits completed application form to OHR.
  • Employee submits certification form to treating health care professional for completion.
  • Health care professional submits completed certification form to OHR.
  • OHR reviews the completed application and certification and determines whether to approve FML.
  • OHR notifies the employee, manager and HR liaison of FML request outcome. If approved, absence allowances are stated.

Post-Approval

  • Employee notifies manager of absence using regular leave request process and indicating FML as the leave type.
  • Employee records FML absences on timesheet using a specific FML designated leave type under “Leave Types Requiring OHR Approval.” For multiple FML leave types (FML-Sick, FML-Vacation, FML-Comp…) use the “Add HR Action Required Leave Type” link to add an additional row.
  • Employee stays in contact with manager and OHR during extended absences.
  • If required by OHR, employee submits Return to Work Release form to treating health care professional for completion.
  • Health care professional submits completed Return to Work Release form to OHR.
  • OHR notifies employee and manager of approved return to work date along with any work restrictions.

Resources

Parental Leave

What is Parental Leave?

Parental leave is a benefit specifically for employees who are not eligible for FML and are requesting time off for the birth of a child or for the placement of a foster/adoptive child under the age of three. Parental leave provides eligible employees up to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave* beginning with the natural child’s date of birth or the adoption/foster placement date. Employees are entitled to return to their same or an equivalent job at the end of their parental leave.

*UT System requires employees to use their existing paid leave balances concurrently with parental leave. An employee may not be placed on unpaid leave unless all applicable paid leave balances have been exhausted.

Responsibilities under Parental Leave

Employee Responsibilities

  • Notify the Office of Human Resources 30 days in advance of the need to take parental leave;
  • Notify your manager of the need for parental leave (do not share medical information);
  • Submit the required forms to OHR;
  • Maintain appropriate contact with your manager and OHR regarding your return-to-work status.

An employee's failure to provide information in a timely manner may result in the delay or denial of parental leave.

Please do not share medical information with anyone outside of OHR. Medical information is confidential and should be maintained solely between the employee and OHR.

Parental Leave Process

Application

  • OHR is notified of a potential parental leave situation by the employee, manager or HR liaison. Direct notifications to leave@utsystem.edu.
  • OHR sends an email to the employee (copied to the manager and HR liaison) with general parental leave info.
  • OHR sends an email to the employee containing parental leave forms.
  • Employee submits completed application form to OHR.
  • Employee submits certification form to treating health care professional for completion or provides OHR with legal documentation to support the adoption/foster placement.
  • Health care professional submits completed certification form to OHR.
  • OHR reviews the completed application and certification and determines whether to approve parental leave request.
  • OHR notifies the employee, manager and HR liaison of parental leave request outcome.

Post-Approval

  • Employee notifies manager of absence using regular leave request process and indicating parental leave as the leave type.
  • Employee records parental leave absences on timesheet using a specific parental leave (PAR) designated leave type under “Leave Types Requiring OHR Approval”. For multiple Parental Leave types (PAR-Sick, PAR-Vacation, PAR-Comp…) use the “Add HR Action Required Leave Type” link to add an additional row.
  • Employee stays in contact with manager and OHR during extended absences.
  • If required by OHR, employee submits Return to Work Release form to treating health care professional for completion.
  • Health care professional submits completed Return to Work Release form to OHR.
  • OHR notifies employee and manager of approved return to work date along with any work restrictions.

Resources

HOP Leave Policy, Sec. 14

Leave Without Pay (LWOP)

A leave of absence without pay (LWOP) may be granted with sufficient cause. Subject to fiscal constraints, approval of the leave constitutes a guarantee of employment at the conclusion of the specified leave period. A leave of absence without pay will be limited to 12 continuous months.

All accumulated and applicable paid leave must be exhausted before LWOP is granted, except in cases of disciplinary suspensions, approved military leave or workers’ compensation benefits. Sick leave must be exhausted only in those cases when the employee is taking LWOP for a reason for which the employee is eligible to take sick leave.

An employee who takes LWOP without approval may be subject to discipline, up to and including termination.

If an employee is placed on leave without pay during the six-month probationary period, the probationary period will be extended by the same number of days the employee is on LWOP.

LWOP Process

There are two LWOP processes based on the nature of the absence.

Absences related family and medical leave, parental leave, military leave or workers’ compensation:

Absences not related to family and medical leave, parental leave, military leave or workers’ compensation:

  • Email your manager with the absence dates, number of requested hours and reason.
  • Your manager will respond indicating whether the request is approved or denied.
  • If the requested hours exceed 40 and approved, the manager will forward the request to the department head for consideration.
  • The department head will respond indicating whether the request is approved or denied and copy leave@utsystem.edu.
  • If approved, the employee will record LWOP absences on the timesheet using Leave Without Pay under “Leave Types Requiring OHR Approval.”

For LWOP absences not exceeding 40 hours, OHR will use the manager’s timesheet approval as documentation. For LWOP absences that exceed 40 hours, OHR requires an emailed copy of the department head’s approval.

Resources

HOP 3.3.1 Leave Policy, Sec. 16