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Family Medical Leave Act
I am an assistant professor in the CSU system, and have recently utilized the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to stay home with my infant daughter. Remarkably, I am one of the first women in the CSU system to do this -- and there has been a significant amount of confusion surrounding my desire to take a 12 week unpaid leave.
Several complicated issues have arisen. First, it is the university's position that the 20 day paid maternity leave runs concurrent with the FMLA (thus one cannot take the 20 days paid maternity and then another 12 weeks unpaid FML). Second, a colleague of mine had a baby in July(outside the regular academic year) and was denied 20 days of paid maternity leave. Third, and most vexing -- there seems to be various interpretations of the above two rules and others related to personal leave, with different campuses/administrators treating similar situated faculty differently.
I would appreciate hearing from any one who has used FMLA, especially anyone in an academic setting. It was my understanding that maternity/child birth is considered a "disability" and therefore any leave connected with this event cannot automatically trigger FMLA. Moreover, the decision to have the leaves run concurrently would seem to circumvent the intent of the FMLA -- specifically to allow an individual 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a family member. Although I am myself an attorney, I have no experience with this area of the law --and am trying to find a lawyer with whom I might confer.
While my own circumstances have worked out well-- thanks to my daughter's well-timed birth, I am deeply troubled by the university's policy and concerned about the precedent being set for other faculty.
I am not able to comment on policies regarding having family leave and maternity leave run concurrently since I did not take that option. The sick days have worked for me but take time to build up. It is also possible to get other people to donate their sick days to you. Madeline
It seems to me that you are dealing with three issues. First is the no-one-knows-anything syndrome, second is disability/paid maternity leave nexus, and third is the issue of running disability/paid maternity contiguous with FMLA leave.
No one knows anything syndrome was and is frighteningly common, and doesn't really indicate that no one at CSU has ever done this. While I am tempted to see this as a conspiracy to guilt parents out of taking leave, rationally I think it really reflects that the human resources people who administer benefits are usually not very experienced; this is particularly true if you have a departmental/divisional HR person. Differences in treatment often arise from direct managers pushing the HR person to creatively push the envelope of what the policy permits --UC has to give you four months, but MAY give additional time, and it is the administration of these optional leaves that is most likely to be abused. Regardless of this, I am sure CSU has a WRITTEN policy that you can look at, if you have not already done so. Other avenues include looking for a union shop steward at your institution who knows how the policy for non-academics is constituted (universities are usually reluctant to give fewer benefits to academics than they do to represented employees!) and might be able to refer you to a CSU-experienced labor lawyer; or to go through CSU's formal grievance process which should give you the right to access redacted records of other employees' FMLA leaves.
Disability/maternity leave I am confused by the 20-day paid maternity leave. I suspect it is actually some form of disability leave, probably paid by an insurance policy. The state of California requires employers to ensure that all employees receive disability insurance, and sets parameters for the payment of benefits. At UC, the standard leave premium is paid by the university, with reductions in the waiting period and increases in the premium paid for as per the employee's choice and out of their paycheck. Standard disability provides for leave on partial pay for 4 weeks before your due date (or as of the date your doctor says you are unable to work) and six weeks after, however, the standard waiting period between the time you are 'disabled' and when pay begins is pretty long --20 or 30 days; I always pay extra for the 5-day waiting period myself and am unclear on the worst-case scenario. Disability plans usually require you to use up your sick leave before disability payments begin. I think your 'paid maternity leave' was really 8-10 weeks of disability minus 4-6 weeks of waiting period. If CSU's paid maternity leave is really personal disability, the extent to which a seasonal employee is entitled to payment is going to depend on whether CSU pays premiums for 12 months as well as other factors like whether the other professor can show she normally works during the summer. (If a male professor has a heart attack on July 31, when does he start receiving disability payments?)
Lastly, I am afraid that concurrent running of disability leave and FMLA is consistent with both the state and federal laws and every personnel policy I've looked at (even if it is incredibly short-sighted). Medical conditions which trigger disability over a threshhold (usually around 5 days) do trigger FMLA protections. FMLA is the Family AND Medical Leave Act, and is meant to provide for both long-term leave for employees as well as time to look after family members. An employee is only entitled to a *total* of 4 months during the 24 (?) month period. Again, you would have to look at the case of the 50-year-old male professor who has a heart attack: does he get 3 months of disability, and then 4 additional months of FMLA leave?
Good luck sorting this out --and hope you're prepared to become your local expert on the use of FMLA leave! Chris
Unfortunately, your 12 weeks of Family Medical Leave ACT begins the day you leave work due to your disability. During the period that you are disabled, your FMLA runs CONCURRENTLY with your PDL leave for your own pregnancy related medical condition. Once you no longer are disabled, whatever balance of your 12 weeks FMLA entitlement converts to FMLA leave for baby bonding purposes. If you are only disabled due to pregnancy and childbirth for 8 weeks, 8 weeks of your FMLA leave will be for your own medical condition, and you will have 4 weeks left of FMLA time remaining for baby bonding purposes.
There is one law that you did not mention in your email, the California Family Rights Act ("CFRA"). The CFRA provides you with up to 12 weeks of leave for baby bonding purposes. Unlike the FMLA, CFRA leave DOES NOT run concurrently with PDL leave (hang in there...this stuff gets confusing) or that portion of your FMLA leave that is related to your pregnancy related disability. CFRA leave begins for baby bonding purposes, AFTER you are no longer are disabled from pregnancy. It may run concurrently with your FMLA baby bonding leave, depending on whether or not your already used your 12 week FMLA entitlement due to your own pregnancy related disability. Your question regarding your employer's policy of paying employees for 20 days is more of a pay question than a PDL/FMLA/CFRA question. All of the leaves are unpaid, however, you may use any paid time off (vacation, sick leave, family sick leave), depending on how much accrued time paid off you have accrued and your employer's policy.
Good luck sorting all of this out. I am an in house employment attorney and I usually find myself drawing time lines to sort it all out, depending on the facts of each situation. Stacy
UC Berkeley's Guide for Balancing Work and Family: http://campus.chance.berkeley.edu/depcare/guide/INDEX.HTML
UCOP's Pregnancy and Newborn Child Fact Sheet: http://www.ucop.edu/bencom/life/pregnancy3104.pdf
The latter is aimed at staff but may be relevant. Judy
Just to add to the issue, there is another state guideline (CPHRA, I believe?) that protects your job while you're pregnant, before you deliver. Hope that helps! Carrie
You also may want to order a copy of the Pocket Guide to the Family and Medical Leave Acts. Published by the California Public Employee Relations Program (CPER) here at U.C. It's $8. You can order it from jorders at ucpress.ucop.edu or from our website at http://www.iir.berkeley.edu/~iir/cper/cper.html . I hope this helps. Stefanie
You need to consult a family law lawyer. They are the ones who will be able to tell you what can and can't be done. And you are right. It is not meant to run concurrently. You will have to force the university to take a good look at the act and they will see that they are leaving themselves wide open for a lawsuit. One phone call from a family law lawyer will most likely result in instant compliance. It sounds like the University system needs to adopt one ruling for all schools.
FMLA of 1993 which requires an employer with more than 50 employees to allow an employee up to 12 weeks of leave for birth, adoption, foster care placement and illness for themselves and/or eligible family members.
California Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) An Employee may take up to four months of medically necessary leave which will be CONCURRENT with FMLA if eligible
California Family Rights Act of 1991. If eligible you may take an additional 12 weeks of family and medical leave for reasons unrelated to pregnancy disabilty. This may be to care for a newborn or recently placed foster child.
UC has an excellent fact sheet: Pregnancy and Newborn Fact Sheet #3104 revised 8/99
Under another California statute, if you become disabled due to a pregnancy-related condition (including childbirth), you also get up to 4 additional months of unpaid leave to accommodate that disability. The pregnancy disability leave covers the period that you are disabled immediately following the birthing process (presumed to be 6 weeks). But it does not cover taking care of a newborn.
So, if you have a normal pregnancy (and are not disabled before giving birth), you usually get a total of 18 weeks of unpaid leave (6 weeks of pregnancy disability leave due disability caused by childbirth, plus 12 weeks of FMLA leave to care for the birth of a newborn).
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