Family and Medical Leave Act

 Archuleta County complies with the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 and recognizes that under certain circumstances an employee may need to be away from work for an extended period of up to twelve (12) weeks within a given fifty-two (52)-week period as outlined by the law. Absences requested under the provisions of this law will be handled on a case-by-case basis whereby authorization by the County and adherence to the guidelines by the employee will protect service for purposes of maintaining benefits.

The purpose of the Family and Medical Leave Act and these policies and procedures is to balance the demands of the workplace with the needs of families, to promote the stability and economic security of families while increasing employee loyalty, and to promote the involvement and commitment to the operation and business goals of the County.

Under this policy, employees can take a leave for any of the following reasons:

1. The birth of the employee’s child or the placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care.

2. To care for a spouse (not a domestic partner), child (under 18 years of age, unless disabled) or parent (not parent in law or grandparent) with a serious health condition.

3. An employee’s serious health condition. A “serious health condition” is an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves:

A. Inpatient care (i.e., an overnight stay) in a hospital, hospice, or residential health-care facility; or

B. Continuing treatment by (or under the supervision of) a healthcare provider. Continuing treatment requires that an employee be incapacitated for more than three consecutive, full calendar days; treatment must be obtained two (2) or more times within thirty (30) days of the first day of incapacity, unless extenuating circumstances exist and the initial visit with the provider must be in person and occur within the first seven (7) days of incapacity.

4. To care for a family member injured in the line of active military service (“military caregiver leave”).

5. A “qualified exigency” arising from a family member’s military active duty or call to active duty (“active duty leave”).

How Much Leave May Be Taken. An eligible employee is entitled to take up to 12 workweeks of unpaid leave during a 12-month period for the birth or placement of a child; to care for a spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition; or for the employee’s own serious health condition.

Military Caregiver Leave. An eligible employee who is the spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin of a covered service member may take 26 workweeks of unpaid leave during the 12-month period to care for the service member. A “covered service member” is defined as a member of the Armed Forces “who is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy, is otherwise in outpatient status, or is otherwise on the temporary disability retired list, for a serious injury or illness.” Military Caregiver Leave requires that the serious injury or illness must have occurred in the line of duty and render the service member medically unfit to perform the duties of his/her office, grade, rank or rating.

Eligible employees who need to take Military Caregiver Leave can take no more than 26 weeks of leave in a 12-month period for all FMLA-qualifying reasons. In other words, if an employee takes the full 26 weeks of Military Caregiver Leave in the 12-month period year, the employee is not entitled to any additional FMLA leave for another qualifying reason (such as his/her own serious health condition) during the same 12-month period.

Active Duty Leave. An eligible employee may be entitled to 12 weeks of FMLA leave to deal with a “qualifying exigency” arising out of the fact that the spouse, son, daughter, or parent of an eligible employee is on active duty or has been called to active duty.

Intermittent Leave. Employees may take intermittent leave. Intermittent leave is leave taken in separate blocks of time. A reduced work schedule is a leave schedule that reduces an employee's usual number of hours per workweek or hours per workday.

Leave to care for a newborn or for a newly placed child may not be taken intermittently or on a reduced work schedule unless the County agrees to such an individual leave request.

If an employee takes leave intermittently or on a reduced schedule basis, the employee must, when requested, attempt to schedule the leave so as not to unduly disrupt the County’s operations. When an employee takes intermittent or reduced work schedule leave for foreseeable planned medical treatment, the County may temporarily transfer the employee to an alternative position with equivalent pay and benefits for which the employee is qualified and which better accommodates recurring periods of leave.

Employee Eligibility. FMLA leave is available to employees who have been employed by the County for at least twelve (12) months and worked at least 1,250 hours during the twelve (12) month period immediately preceding the commencement of the leave. The twelve (12) months an employee must have been employed need not be consecutive months. Employment periods prior to a break in service of seven years or more need not be counted in determining whether the employee has been employed by the County for at least twelve (12) months.

With the exception of time taken by an employee for work-related injuries, the County requires that the employee exhaust his/her compensatory time and all other paid leave as part of the 12/26 weeks of leave. An absence related to an employee’s workers’ compensation injury will count against FMLA leave entitlement.

A rolling twelve (12) month period measured backward from the date an employee uses any FMLA leave will be used to determine an employee’s leave entitlement.

If an employee and the employee’s spouse are both employed by the County, the total amount of leave available for both employees is 12/26 weeks. Employees with pregnancy-related disabilities may have the right to take a pregnancy short term disability leave in conjunction with a family leave.

Notice, Certification and Reporting Requirements. If the need for the leave is foreseeable, an employee must provide thirty (30) days’ written notice prior to the requested start of the leave. If thirty (30) days’ notice is not provided, the start of the leave may be delayed. If the need for the leave is not foreseeable, an employee must provide notice within five (5) working days of when the need for the leave becomes known to the employee.

If the need for leave is foreseeable due to a planned medical treatment or supervision, the employee must make a reasonable effort to schedule the treatment or supervision in order to avoid disruptions to the operations of the County.

An employee requesting leave to care for a family member with a serious health condition, or an employee with a serious health condition, or an employee requesting Military Caregiver Leave must provide a health care provider’s certification of the health condition. These forms are available in Human Resources. Have your health care provider complete and sign the certification form. This must be returned to Human Resources within fifteen (15) calendar days from the date requested. Failure to return this form may result in your FMLA being denied. You will be required to submit recertification from your health care provider of the existence or continued existence for a serious health care condition every thirty (30) days. In the event that you do not submit appropriate medical certification when requested, your FMLA designation may be withdrawn and your leave will not be protected under FMLA

After your health care provider completes the Medical Certification form, it is encouraged that he/she give the form to you and you personally turn the form in. Doing this will alleviate any concerns with HIPAA privacy rules.

If there is any question about the validity of a certification for an employee’s serious health condition, the County may request a second opinion from a health care provider designated by the County. If a dispute remains, the opinion of a third health care provider may be required at the County’s expense and the resulting opinion shall be final and binding.

During any leave, an employee must provide periodic reports regarding the status of leave and any change in the employee’s plans on returning to work.

Benefits During Leave. An employee taking leave under this policy will continue to receive coverage under the County’s health plan for up to a maximum of 12/26 workweeks at the same level of employment and under the same conditions of coverage as if the employee had continued in employment continuously for the duration of such leave.

The County will continue to make the same premium contribution as if the employee had continued working, and the employee is responsible for making his/her portion of the health insurance premium contribution. If an employee fails to return following the leave, the employee may be required to repay the premiums paid by the County during leave.

Reinstatement. Employees returning from family leave will be reinstated to their previous position (except for certain highly compensated employees) or to an equivalent position with equivalent benefits, pay and terms and conditions of employment. However, an employee has no greater right to reinstatement than if the employee had been continuously employed rather than on leave. For example, if employees on family leave would have been laid off had they not gone on leave, or if their jobs are eliminated while they are on leave, then the employees would not be entitled to reinstatement.