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Family and Medical Leave Program Description

Policy Statement

Ramapo College understands the importance of family issues to today’s work force. Because employees may find it necessary to take leave from their jobs for a temporary period to address certain family responsibilities or their own serious health conditions, and in order to comply with the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA), New Jersey state law (FLA), as well as contractual obligations, the Administrative Code and Board Policy, Ramapo College established the Family and Medical Leave Policy (Board Policy # 618).

Program Description

Ramapo College will grant an eligible employee leave for up to 12 work weeks during a 12 month period under federal law (FMLA) or 12 weeks during a 24 month period under NJ state law (FLA), if the procedures in this policy are followed and leave is requested for any of the following reasons:

  1. The birth or adoption of a child, or the foster care placement of a child
  2. To care for a covered family member of the employee if that individual has a serious health condition; or
  3. A serious health condition of the employee that renders the employee unable to perform his or her job functions. (Covered by federal law-FMLA, not NJ state law-FLA)

The 12 month period is calculated on a rolling basis measured backward from the date an employee uses any leave under this policy. Each time an employee takes leave, the College will compute the amount of leave taken and subtract it from the 12 weeks of available leave and the balance remaining is the amount the employee is entitled to take at that time.

Minimum Eligibility Requirements

An employee is eligible under federal law (FMLA) if the employee has been employed for at least 12 months or 52 weeks by Ramapo College, and has worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12-month period prior to the time leave would begin under this policy. The provisions of NJ state law (FLA) require employment for 12 months with at least 1000 + base hours during the preceding 12 months. Hours are calculated based upon actual hours that the employee worked including overtime.

Ramapo College will use its records of hours worked for all hourly employees. In the case of exempt employees, the College will assume that any employee employed full-time for seven and one-half month’s meets the 1,250 hours requirement. Exempt employees who have 12 months’ prior service but less than seven and one-half months’ full-time continuous service at the time leave is requested should include documentation of hours worked with their request.

State Law

There may be circumstances where your leave may fall under the jurisdiction of NJ state leave law (FLA) rather than the federal law (FMLA). Ramapo College will comply with both laws. Leave under state law will run concurrently with federal law (FMLA).

Spousal Exception

Federal law provides that if a husband and wife both work for Ramapo College, and are eligible for leave, they are only entitled to a combined 12 work weeks of leave taken for birth, adoption, foster care and to care for a covered family member with a serious health condition. NJ state law requires an employer to grant a family leave to more than one employee from the same family at the same time provided the employees are eligible for leave.

Key Employee Exception

Federal law (FMLA) provides that if an employee has gross income that is within the top 10% of Ramapo College’s employees during the calendar year in which the leave is taken, Ramapo College reserves the right not to restore the employee to his or her prior position if the College will suffer substantial and grievous harm because of the restoration. At the time that leave is granted under this policy, Ramapo College will inform the employee that the employee is within the top 10% and also explain the possible consequence that restoration may be denied.

If Ramapo College determines during the employee’s leave that the employee is not to be restored to employment, the employee will be notified immediately and given the opportunity to return from leave and be restored to his or her position. If the employee does not return from leave, the employee can petition for reinstatement at the end of the leave period and will be notified, by certified mail, whether the employee will not be restored because doing so would cause Ramapo College substantial and grievous harm.

NJ state law (FLA) allows an employer to deny leave to an employee whose base salary ranks within the highest paid 5% of his her salary or is one of the 7 highest paid, if the employer can demonstrate that the granting of leave will cause a substantial and grievous economic injury.

Leave for Pregnancy/Birth of Newborn

Pregnancy qualifies as a serious health condition under federal law (FMLA). Up to 12 weeks of family leave will be granted for pregnancy under federal law (FMLA) based on medical certification. When the period of medical disability has ended, the provisions of NJ state law (FLA) will apply and up to 12 weeks leave may be granted for care of the newborn. If the leave is for birth, adoption, or foster care placement, federal law (FMLA) provides that the leave must be completed within 12 months of the date of birth or placement. NJ state law (FLA) provides that the leave must commence within 12 months of birth or placement

In the event that an employee wishes to remain out for childcare purposes beyond the covered FMLA and FLA period, it must be requested in writing and it will be handled as a personal leave of absence and subject to provisions of the bargaining unit contract, Administrative Code or Board Policy. (Please refer to your bargaining unit contract for specifics regarding the request process).

Intermittent/Reduced Leave

Both federal (FMLA) and NJ state law (FLA) permit intermittent leave when medically necessary. An employee taking leave for personal illness or to care for a sick family member need not take such leave continuously and may take it on an intermittent basis, or by reducing the employee’s scheduled work hours, if the employee provides certification from the healthcare provider caring for the employee and/or family member that leave must be taken in that manner. If leave is not taken continuously, it will be deducted from the employee’s entitlement to leave, i.e. 12 weeks during a 12-month or 24-month period, in increments of hours or days. Federal law (FMLA) allows for the employee to be transferred temporarily to a job that better accommodates the leave with equal pay and benefits. NJ state law (FLA) provides that reduced leave may not be taken for more than 24 consecutive weeks and an employee may take only one reduced leave per 24-month period. Intermittent leave must be in intervals of at least one week and must be completed in a 12-month period.

Employees requesting intermittent or reduced –schedule leave must make a reasonable effort to avoid disruption to College operations.

Intermittent leave is not required to be granted for birth or adoption under federal law (FMLA) or NJ state law (FLA).

Military Caregiver Leave

Eligible employees who are family members of covered servicemembers (spouse, son, daughter, parent or next of kin) will be able to take up to 26 workweeks of leave in a single 12 month period to care for a covered servicemember in the Regular Armed Forces, National Guard or Reserves with a serious illness or injury incurred in the line of duty on active duty.

Qualifying Exigency Leave

This provision expands the normal 12 workweeks of FMLA job protected leave available to eligible employees with a covered military member; spouse, son, daughter or parent, serving in the National Guard or Reserves to use for any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that a covered military member is on active duty or called to active duty status is support of a contingency operation. Qualifying Exigency Leave allows eligible employees to use FMLA leave for the following reasons: short notice deployment, military events and related activities, childcare and school activities, financial and legal arrangements, counseling, rest and recuperation, post deployment activities and additional activities as agreed to by the College and employee. There is a limit of up to seven calendar days for the qualifying exigency of Short Notice Deployment Activities. There is a limit of up to 5 work days for each instance of qualifying exigency of Rest and Recuperation. Qualifying exigency leave may be taken continuously, intermittently or on a reduced schedule. Exigency Leave does not apply to covered military members in the regular Armed Forces.

Procedure for Requesting Leave

All requests for family or medical leave should be made to the Benefits Office in the Department of Human Resources. A “Request for A Leave of Absence” form must be completed by the employee, signed by the supervisor and returned to the Benefits Office 30 days prior to the commencement of leave, except under emergent circumstances. The employee must advise the College as soon as practicable when dates of leave change or become known.

Notice Requirements

Federal law (FMLA) provides that if the need for family or medical leave is foreseeable, an employee must provide not less than 30 days notice before the date the leave is to begin or such notice as is practicable. The College may require explanation of why 30 days advance notice was not practicable.

NJ state law (FLA) requires the employee to provide reasonable advance notice–30 days for birth/adoption, except where emergent circumstances require less notice or 15 days notice for serious health condition, except where emergent circumstances require less notice. Leave will be denied unless there is a reasonable excuse for the delay. If leave is denied for lack of notice, the employee may designate leave to start 30 days after notice is given.

Failure to report to work when family and medical leave has been denied will be treated as an unexcused absence and subject to disciplinary action.

If the need for family or medical leave is not foreseeable, notice must be given by the employee as soon as possible and practicable. Employees are expected to promptly notify their supervisor and the Benefits Office of the Department of Human Resources as soon as they learn of the need for leave. Except in the case of extreme medical emergencies, employees are expected to call to advise their supervisor as soon as they know of the need for and expected duration of leave. In emergencies, the employee or a family member should contact Ramapo College at (201) 684-7502 and give the same information. Requests for leave should then be submitted in writing as soon as practicable. (Absent good cause or medical emergencies, written requests for leave should be submitted within three business days after oral request is made).

College Responsibility

After receiving a request for FMLA or FLA leave, Ramapo College will respond in writing, notify the employee whether the leave will be counted as FMLA/FLA leave, and provide information regarding benefit continuation while on leave. If the leave will not be designated as FMLA/FLA-qualifying, the College shall notify the employee of that determination. In a notice of FMLA designation, Ramapo College will notify those employees granted FMLA leave for the employee’s own serious health condition, that a fitness-for duty certification from their healthcare provider must be submitted to the Benefits Office prior to restoration to their position. The College may request that the fitness-for-duty certification address the employee’s ability to perform the essential functions of the employee’s position as listed in the Notice of FMLA designation.

Medical Certification

Ramapo College requires proof of necessity for family or medical leave by a healthcare provider. The information required shall include:

  • The date on which the serious health condition commenced;
  • The probable duration of the condition;
  • Appropriate sufficient medical facts within the knowledge of the health care provider that would entitle the employee to take family or medical leave;
  • An estimate of the amount of time that the employee is needed to care for a family member or a statement that the employee is unable to perform the functions of the position of the employee; and
  • In cases of medical leave, an explanation of the extent to which the employee is unable to perform the function of the employee’s position.

Upon request of leave the College will provide the employee with a Certification of Healthcare Provider form for the employee or covered family member. Certifications must be submitted within 15 days of the date requested by the College. Recertification may be requested every 30 days unless the medical certification indicates the minimum duration is more than 30 days. If duration of illness is more than 30 days, recertification of illness may be required every six months or upon expiration of period of incapacity specified in certification. Recertification may also be required if extension to leave is requested and/or if significant change in certification due to complications, severity of illness, longer duration or patterns of absences.

During leave, if the College has reason to doubt validity or certification, the College may obtain recertification or a second opinion, and if necessary, a third opinion.

Military Leave Certification

Employees requesting Military Caregiver or Qualifying Exigency leave must provide the Benefits Office with Certification for Serious Injury or Illness of Covered Servicemember for Military Family Leave or Certification of Qualifying Exigency for Military Family Leave.

Periodic Reporting

Employees on leave are required to report every month to their supervisor and the Benefits Office regarding their absences and return to work status.

Substitution of Accrued Time to Remain In Pay Status

An employee’s accrued time will be prorated at the commencement of leave. Remaining sick, vacation, personal and compensatory time may be but is not required to be used while on approved leave in accordance with College policy and practices. In the case of an employee’s illness or serious health condition (including childbirth), the employee is required to exhaust sick leave before filing for short-term disability benefits. Employees may also use sick leave to care for the serious health condition of family members. Paid leave will run concurrently with FMLA. Employees may not use sick leave for care of a newborn, adoption or child care purposes. Unless an employee requests to use available leave balances, leave will be unpaid. Upon exhaustion of accrued time, employees may be eligible for continued pay through state disability for the employee’s own illness or paid Family Leave Insurance. When applying for family leave insurance, an employee must first exhaust 10 earned sick or vacation days as appropriate.

Paid Family Leave Insurance

Family Leave insurance provides paid time for an employee to bond with a newborn during the first 12 months after the child’s birth or to care for a family member with a serious health condition. An employee must exhaust, as of the date the employee wishes to apply for family leave insurance, 10 earned sick or vacation days as appropriate. Family Leave Insurance will provide a maximum of six weeks benefit in a 12 month period which will run concurrently against FMLA and FLA entitlement. Applications for benefits are available in the Benefits office or online at

https://www.ramapo.edu/hr/employee-benefits/

Health Benefits

Federal law (FMLA) and state law (FLA) require Ramapo College to maintain an employee’s coverage under a group health plan for the duration of the leave at a level and under the conditions that coverage would have been provided but for the leave. The employee is required to continue to pay the employee’s portion of any health insurance premiums normally deducted from the employee’s paycheck and shall pay such amounts monthly by tendering a check payable to Ramapo College. If the employee fails to make the required payments for health coverage within 30 days of the date that such payments are due, health coverage will be discontinued. Upon exhaustion of the leave, employees who remain out of work will be offered continuation of coverage under COBRA.

In the event that an employee does not qualify for leave under federal (FMLA) or NJ state leave (FLA) the employee will still be entitled to continued health coverage for three months while on approved unpaid medical leave of absence. The employee will be required to make any applicable copayments.

Other Benefits

Employees will not earn pension service credit or receive or make pension contributions, nor will they earn any vacation or sick accruals while on unpaid family or medical leave. Intermittent leave without pay for a period of 11 days, will result in a reduction in vacation and sick leave accruals (one-half of one month’s entitlement for each eleven days), as well as an anniversary date adjustment for bargaining unit employees.

Confidentiality

Ramapo College will keep confidential all medical information relating to requests for family or medical leave. This information will be used only to make decisions in regard to the provisions of this policy. Medical documentation should not be given to supervisors.

Reinstatement

An employee taking leave under this policy will be returned to the employee’s same position or to an equivalent position, at the election of Ramapo College, unless the employee would have been terminated in the absence of any leave. (e.g., layoff, downsizing, or termination of a temporary job). Taking of leave will not result in any loss of benefits or conditions of employment accrued prior to the beginning of the leave.

Fitness-For-Duty-Certification

Ramapo College will require all employees taking FMLA leave for the employee’s own serious health condition to submit a fitness-for duty certification from their healthcare provider, prior to restoration to their position. Fitness-for duty certification may be required every 30 days for employees on intermittent or reduced schedule leave where reasonable safety concerns exist based on the serious health condition for which the employee took FMLA leave. The College may contact the employee’s healthcare provider for purposes of clarifying and authenticating the fitness-for-duty certification, but will not delay the employee’s return to work from FMLA leave while contact with the healthcare provider is being made. An employee who fails to provide a fitness-for-duty certification to the College, as required, may not be entitled to restoration to position under the FMLA.

Reasonable Accommodation of Disability Following FMLA Leave

When an employee with a serious health condition returns to work from FMLA leave, the employee may make a request to the College for reasonable accommodation of the health condition as a disability under the ADA. Under the ADA, the College may request medical information from the employee about the disability, may require a medical examination at the employer’s expense to determine the extent to which the employee may be able or unable to perform the functions of the employee’s position without accommodation, and shall engage in the interactive process with the employee regarding reasonable accommodation of the employee’s disability.

Failure to Return To Work

Employees who give unequivocal notice that they do not intend to return to work lose their entitlement to family and medical leave. Employees who fail to return to work after family and medical leave without proper authorization shall be treated as having voluntarily terminated their employment and are subject to disciplinary action.

Leave for Non Serious Health Conditions

This policy and federal law (FMLA) and NJ state law (FLA) only protect leaves for serious health conditions. Ramapo College recognizes that employees may need to take leave to care for family members or because of personal illness for conditions that do not meet the definition of “serious health conditions.”

Employees may take paid sick leave for such illnesses subject to the limitations of their union contract. If paid sick leave and personal leave have been exhausted, Ramapo College will consider, on a case- by-case basis, requests for unpaid leave for non-serious personal illnesses, or to care for a family member for a non-serious illness. Leaves will be granted unless doing so would, in the College’s opinion, adversely affect operations. Employees may be subject to discipline unless permission to take unpaid leave for foreseeable, non-serious conditions is obtained in advance.

Rights and Obligations

The College and its employees have various rights and obligations under federal and state law, contractual provisions, the Administrative Code and Board policy. When family leave entitlements and accrued time benefits described herein are exhausted employees may request a leave without pay. Leaves of absence without pay may not exceed one year. For further information, contact the Benefits Office in the Department of Human Resources. All provisions of this policy shall be interpreted consistent with federal and NJ state law, contractual provisions, the Administrative Code and Board policy. Ramapo College reserves the right to modify or terminate this policy at any time.

July 1, 2009

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