Leaves of Absence

Family and Medical Leave (FMLA)

Kalamazoo College provides eligible employees who are covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) with job protected leave for qualifying reasons. Leaves of absence under this policy shall be administered and provided for in a manner consistent with the FMLA and its published regulations. Employees are eligible if they have worked for the College for at least one year and have worked at least 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months. For a description of your rights and responsibilities under the Family and Medical Leave Act, see http://www.kzoo.edu/hr/. 

FMLA Basic Leave Entitlement

FMLA requires covered employers to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to eligible employees for the following reasons:

  • For incapacity due to pregnancy, prenatal medical care or child birth;
  • To care for the employee’s child after birth, or placement for adoption or foster care;
  • To care for the employee’s spouse, son or daughter or other child for whom the employee stands in loco parentis, or parent, who has a serious health condition; or
  • For a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the employee’s job.

FMLA Military Family Leave Entitlements

Eligible employees with a spouse, son, daughter, or parent on active duty or call to active duty status in the National Guard or Reserves in support of a contingency operation may use their 12-week leave entitlement to address certain qualifying exigencies. Qualifying exigencies may include attending certain military events, arranging for alternative childcare, addressing certain financial and legal arrangements, attending certain counseling sessions, and attending post-deployment reintegration briefings. 

FMLA also includes a special leave entitlement that permits eligible employees to take up to 26 weeks of leave to care for a covered service member during a single 12-month period. A covered service member is a current member of the Armed Forces, including a member of the National Guard or Reserves, who has a serious injury or illness incurred in the line of duty on active duty that may render the service member medically unfit to perform his or her duties for which the service member is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy; or is in outpatient status; or is on the temporary disability retired list. 

Extended Medical Leave

The College may grant leave for up to six months for the employee’s serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the employee’s job. Extensions beyond six months may be granted within the sole discretion of the College.

Notice, Duration, and Certification

When the need for leave is foreseeable, employees are expected to provide 30 days advance notice. When not foreseeable, employees are required to provide notice of the need for leave as soon as practicable. Failure to provide appropriate notice may result in the denial of leave. 

Leave for a newborn or newly placed child may be taken only within 12 months from the date of birth or placement and may only be taken continuously. When medically necessary, leave to care for a family member or for the employee’s own serious health condition may be taken on an intermittent or a reduced work schedule basis. 

The College will require medical certification to support a request for a leave because of a serious health condition and may require re-certifications as well as a fitness for duty report to return to work. For medical leaves beyond 12 weeks for an employee’s serious health condition the College may require verification by an MD/DO selected by the College. The medical certification must include the first anticipated date of absence from service to the College and the expected date of return. A fitness for duty report may be required to return to work. 

When leave is required for a serious health condition, employees will normally be given 15 calendar days to obtain the necessary medical certifications to support the leave. Employees will be required, unless the College waives the requirement, to recertify the need for the leave at least every 30 days and to report in on a periodic basis no less often than every two weeks with respect to their progress or the progress of their parent, spouse, or child, and their anticipated date for return to work. 

Wages and Benefits

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, child care leave or leave to care for a family member with a serious health condition will be unpaid. The College has provided that during a leave of absence for the employee’s own serious health condition, employees may be eligible for the College-funded short term disability benefit. In addition, employees on leave under FMLA are expected to use emergency or vacation leave accruals to cover otherwise unpaid leave time. 

During periods of unpaid leave, vacation and emergency leave benefits will not accrue and employees will not be eligible for holiday pay. 

For the duration of leave under this policy, the College will maintain the employee’s health coverage under any group health plan for a period not to exceed six months annually. Any employee contributions to the health plan must be maintained during the leave to maintain coverage. Employees who fail to return from a leave will be obligated to reimburse the College for the cost of the College paid health coverage, except when the employee’s failure to return is due to the continuation, recurrence or onset of a serious health condition which would entitle the employee to medical or family leave or other circumstances beyond the employee’s control. 

Return to Work

Upon return from a leave of six months or less, employees will be restored to their original or equivalent position, with equivalent pay, benefits and other employment terms. The employee will not lose any employment benefit that accrued prior to the start of the leave. 

Eligibility Year

For purposes of determining eligibility for a leave, the College has adopted a rolling 12 month period whereby each time an employee takes family or medical leave, the remaining leave entitlement will be any balance of the 12 weeks which has not been used during the immediately preceding 12 months. 

Non-FMLA Leave

Qualified employees who do not meet the eligibility requirements for the Family Medical Leave Act for their own serious health condition or who have exhausted all available FMLA leave and who are temporarily unable to work due to their own serious health condition or disability (as defined by the Americans With Disabilities Act) may be eligible for an unpaid Non-FMLA medical leave of absence. 

To request Non-FMLA leave, employees must return a completed Non-FMLA leave medical verification form to the Human Resources Department.  Employees must give as much advance notice of leave as possible, preferably at least 30 days.  We may request a second opinion from a health care provider of our choice. In addition, employees may be required to complete a medical release.

Based on the information provided, we will engage with the employee to determine whether there is a reasonable accommodation that would allow the employee to continue to work in the employee’s current position or an alternative position.  If the employee is not able to work, even considering available reasonable accommodations, we will evaluate whether a leave of absence would allow the employee to recover and return to work.  If reviewing whether a request for Non-FMLA leave is reasonable, we will evaluate the length of the leave, whether there is a clear and fixed date when the employee will be able to return to the employee’s position, and our operational needs.

All Non-FMLA leaves require approval starting with the first day of absence.  We will consider necessary extensions on a case-by-case basis.

We retain the discretion to fill the employee’s position/status during a Non-FMLA leave if we determine that it is an undue hardship to keep the position available or if the nature of the leave is indefinite.

While on Non-FMLA leave, employees are required to report to the Human Resources Department regarding their status and intention to return to work.  Likewise, it may be necessary for us to contact an employee for those reasons.  If the employee cannot be reached at the phone numbers on file and the leave is in excess of 5 working days, the employee must provide a telephone number, street address and e-mail address (if available) at which they can be contacted.

Before returning to work from a Non-FMLA leave, the employee must provide medical verification of his or her fitness for duty.  We will normally provide a list of the essential functions of the employee’s job for that purpose.

Employees are required to use their available paid time off during Non-FMLA leave, unless the employee is receiving short-term disability or workers compensation pay.  Employees who are on an approved leave will not accrue PTO for any pay periods in which they did not perform any work.  In addition, employees are not eligible to receive holiday or bereavement pay while on an approved leave.

Subject to the terms, conditions, and limitations of the applicable plans, we will continue to provide employee health insurance for the full period of an approved Non-FMLA leave.  We will continue to pay our portion of the cost of the health care premiums for an eligible employee during the period the employee is on leave.  Employees will be required to pay the active employee portion of the insurance premiums on a monthly basis, if applicable. 

An employee who fails to comply with the conditions accompanying the leave (e.g. periodically reporting in, providing additional medical information and physician’s statements, etc.), who fails to return to work at the end of approved leave and/or who engages in conduct that indicates dishonesty or is otherwise inconsistent with the stated need for leave will be subject to discipline, including termination of employment.  In addition, employees on Non-FMLA leave should not engage in employment with another employer or in self-employment without approval from the agency. Employees should give at least two weeks advance notice before they intend to return to work.

Personal Leave

In unusual circumstances, not covered by other policies, the College may grant a leave of absence without pay to regular full-time employees or regular part-time employees who are regularly scheduled to work at least 1,040 hours per year. Whenever possible, reasonable advance notice should be given. Leave will not be approved retroactively to cover a prior period of absence. A request for leave should be presented first to the supervisor and then to the senior officer and Human Resources Director for approval. Consult Human Resources regarding eligibility for continuation of insurance coverage during unpaid leave. 

All available vacation leave must be used before unpaid leave will be granted. Holiday pay and accrual of vacation and emergency leave time are suspended during unpaid leave. 

Jury / Witness Duty

The College recognizes the obligation of its employees to serve on jury duty or as a subpoenaed witness when called. Under normal circumstances the College will continue to pay an employee’s regular budgeted pay. Should jury or witness duty require extensive absence, the College reserves the right to review continued salary maintenance. Employees are expected to report for work all or part of any work day not engaged in jury duty or as a subpoenaed witness. Employees are required to forward a copy of the summons or subpoena of jury or witness duty and documentation substantiating dates served in court to the Human Resources Office. 

Military Leave

Employees shall be entitled to military leave pursuant to the provisions of applicable state and Federal law and regulations. 

Benefits During Leaves of Absence

Except as provided above, benefits such as retirement, health insurance, life insurance, etc. will continue in force with College contributions only as long as an employee is on a paid leave of absence. For unpaid leave other than qualifying leaves under FMLA, benefits paid by the College shall be suspended. COBRA continuation of health insurance at the employee’s own cost will be offered where required by law. 

Eligible employees will have health insurance and life insurance provided by the College during an approved disability leave for a period not to exceed the end of the sixth month following the start of the disability leave, or until such disability leave is canceled by return to work, resignation, retirement, or the death of the employee, whichever condition occurs first. 

Please note that where insurance or other employee benefit plans are concerned, the terms of the insurance policy or plan will prevail regardless of any statements contained in the handbook.