Family and Medical Leave1
In accordance with the provisions of federal law, Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) is provided to employees when certain qualifying events, as outlined below, occur in the employee’s life. Under this policy, employees are eligible for up to twelve weeks (12) of non-discretionary, job-protected leave within a 52-week period. The leave is unpaid except to the extent that it is covered by the Medical College’s Salary Continuance policy, or Academic Family Leave policy.
The Salary Continuance policy provides for compensation to eligible academic staff members unable to perform their normal duties due to a medical condition, for up to twenty-six (26) weeks with approval from the Dean after the initial twelve (12) weeks of leave.
An academic staff member on leave of absence due to disability may not be eligible for benefits under the Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) policy. See the FMLA policy requirements herein. If an academic staff member qualifies for FMLA and leave of absence due to disability, the two leave periods will run concurrently.
If an academic staff member qualifies for Academic Family Leave, the FMLA leave period will run concurrently, except when not applicable.
In order to qualify for FMLA, an employee must have worked for the Medical College for at least one year and worked at least 1,250 hours during the 52-week period prior to the date FMLA is requested (hours worked do not include time previously spent on paid or unpaid leave, vacation time or sick time). Employees who do not meet the above criteria are entitled to leave in accordance with Medical College’s salary continuance policy for academic employees with less than one year of service.
An employee is eligible for FMLA in the case of any of the following life events:
- The birth or adoption of a child or for the care of that child immediately following birth or adoption;
- The placement of a child with the employee for foster care, and to care for the newly placed child;
- To care for a spouse, domestic partner, child, or parent with a serious health condition;
- To seek treatment for an employee’s own serious health condition.
Serious Health Condition
A serious health condition is generally defined as an illness, injury, impairment, or a physical or mental condition, resulting in:
- In-patient care in a health care facility;
- An absence of more than three consecutive days that requires multiple treatments by a Health Care Provider;
- A chronic condition that requires periodic treatments from a HealthCare Provider over an extended period of time;
- A permanent or long-term condition that requires medical supervision, but not necessarily treatment;
- A condition that requires treatment from a Health Care Provider that would likely result in a period of incapacity of more than three consecutive days in the absence of medical intervention or treatment;
- Any period of incapacity due to a pregnancy or for prenatal care;
Limitations on Leave for Birth, Adoption or Placement of Foster Care
Leaves due to the birth, adoption or the foster placement of a child with the employee, must be completed within twelve (12) months of the birth, adoption or placement under the FMLA policy and the Academic Family Leave policy.
Continuous leave, Intermittent leave, or Reduced Work Schedule
Continuous leave means that the employee will be out for a prolonged period of time (days) in consecutive order. When medically necessary, as evidenced by a medical certification, the employee may take intermittent leave or reduce his/her work schedule. Intermittent leave means that the employee anticipates leave due to their own health condition or to take care of a family member in accordance with FMLA or the Academic Family Leave policy, but those days might be spread out during a period of time and do not have to be consecutive. Under these circumstances, an employee should try to schedule the leave so as not to disrupt Medical College operations. The Medical College may temporarily assign an employee on intermittent or reduced leave to an alternative position with equivalent pay and benefits. See also Family and Medical Leave, Salary Continuance and Academic Family Leave Policies, Academic Family Leave.
All salaried academic staff members of the Medical College, including paid Postdoctoral Associates and Fellows (but not including visiting, adjunct, sessional, and emeritus staff) who are not covered by the Medical College’s sick leave policy, are entitled to salary continuance for temporary disability for up to twelve (12) weeks while seeking treatment or care for their own serious health condition. Academic employees are paid salary continuance according to the following schedule:
- All academic employees, including paid Postdoctoral Associates and Fellows with less than one year of service are paid 50% of their salary while unable to work due to a serious health condition.
- All academic employees, including paid Postdoctoral Associates and Fellows with one year or more of service will be paid 100% of their salary while unable to work due to a serious health condition.
- Academic staff members engaged sessionally will receive the disability benefits required by law. They should consult the HR solutions Center at [(646)-962-9247].
Provided the appropriate process is followed as outlined below, salary continuance for a serious health condition will be granted for up to an initial twelve (12) weeks. In cases where the academic employee has not sufficiently recovered from his/her serious health condition preventing the employee from returning to work within the initial twelve (12) weeks, the Dean of the Medical College may upon request of the employee’s department chair extend the salary continuance for up to an additional twelve (12) weeks (that is, 6 months in total, or a total period of twenty-six (26) weeks.)
If the serious health condition is pregnancy, labor and delivery of a baby, then the following rules will apply:
For vaginal delivery, the academic employee will receive salary continuance for six (6) weeks immediately after the birth of the baby. If the academic employee is released to return to work by their treating physician, but wants to take additional paid time off to bond with the baby, up to eight (8) weeks can be taken per the provisions of the Academic Family Leave policy (Family and Medical Leave, Salary Continuance and Academic Family Leave Policies). FMLA will run concurrently with the Academic Family Leave period.
For C-Section delivery, the academic employee will receive salary continuance for eight (8) weeks immediately after the birth of the baby. If the academic employee is released to return to work by their treating physician, but wants to take additional paid time off to bond with the baby, up to eight (8) weeks can be taken per the provisions of the Academic Family Leave policy (Family and Medical Leave, Salary Continuance and Academic Family Leave Policies). FMLA will run concurrently with the Academic Family Leave period.
If medically necessary leave is required after the initial six (6) or eight (8) weeks of salary continuance, the academic employee can apply for additional paid leave under the Salary Continuance policy.
Academic Family Leave4
All salaried academic employees, including paid Postdoctoral Associates and Fellows (but not including visiting, adjunct, sessional, and emeritus staff)are eligible for job-protected, paid leave of up to eight (8) weeks per year provided they have completed three (3) months of work at the Medical College. Leave is available for the following purposes:
- Bond with a newly born, adopted, or fostered child.
- Academic Family Leave may be taken within twelve (12) months of the event, including if the birth, adoption, or foster placement occurred prior to January 1, 2019, provided the academic employee has met the eligibility requirements on January 1, 2019.
2. Care (physical or psychological) for a family member with a serious health condition.
- Family member means a spouse, domestic partner, child (no age limit), parent, parent-in-law, grandparent, or grandchild.
- A serious health condition means an illness, injury, impairment, or a physical or mental condition that involves: inpatient care in a hospital, hospice, or a residential health care facility; or continuing treatment or continuing supervision by a health care provider.
3. Assist loved ones when a family member is deployed abroad on active military duty.
The Academic Family Leave benefit is calculated as a maximum of eight (8) weeks of leave per calendar year, as a percentage of salary, according to the following schedule (salary is defined as annual base salary plus any administrative supplement, and is capped at $210,000):
- All academic employees, including paid Postdoctoral Associates and Fellows with less than one year of service will be paid 50% of their salary to bond with a new child or care for a family member with a serious health condition.
- All academic employees, including paid Postdoctoral Associates and Fellows with one year or more of service, will be paid 100% of their salary to bond with a new child or care for a family member with a serious health condition.
Leave can be taken in whole day increments, and can be continuous or intermittent.
Two parents working for the Medical College: each eligible employee can take Academic Family Leave up to the maximum benefit; their departments have discretion depending on the circumstances, to limit the employees from taking leave at the same time for the same family member.
Coordination with Salary Continuance: An employee cannot receive salary continuance benefits and Academic Family Leave benefits concurrently. Salary continuance for the purpose of labor and delivery of a child, is separate from the Academic Family Leave benefit to bond with the baby.
Coordination with Family and Medical Leave: FMLA runs concurrently with Academic Family Leave, except when the Academic Family Leave is used to care for a grandparent, grandchild, or parent-in-law (as FMLA does not cover a grandparent, grandchild, or parent-in-law). If the employee is eligible for Academic Family Leave but does not have remaining FMLA time, Academic Family Leave may be taken alone.
FMLA may be taken for a maximum of twelve (12) weeks in a 52-week period. Academic Family Leave may be taken for a maximum of eight (8) weeks in a calendar year and runs concurrently with FMLA. Both FMLA and Academic Family Leave provide job protection. If the employee returns to work within the eight- or twelve-week leave period, he/she will be returned to the same or an equivalent position to the one that was held prior to the leave. An equivalent position will provide equivalent pay and benefits. Under the law, the Medical College may choose to exempt key employees from this provision and not return them to the same or equivalent position. Key employees are salaried employees otherwise eligible under FMLA who are among the highest paid 10% of Medical College employees.
Any personnel actions, including notifications, taken prior to an FMLA leave or Academic Family Leave remain in effect and may affect the terms of the leave and reinstatement. Terminations and layoffs during leave, which would have occurred even if employees had been at work, may occur and will affect the terms of leave and reinstatement. Human Resources should be contacted in these instances.
Participation in all applicable employee benefit plans will continue as long as the employee is on FMLA leave, Academic Family Leave, or receiving salary continuance from the Medical College. During unpaid FMLA, the employee will remain eligible for health, dental, vision, long term disability and life insurance coverages and for the flexible spending account. Employee contributions for coverages while on FMLA will be the same as those required of active employees.
Benefits participation will be discontinued at the end of an FMLA leave if an employee does not return to work except in the case where an academic employee’s salary continuance has been extended by the Dean of the Medical College. In such case, benefits may be extended to up to twenty-six weeks. Following FMLA leave, or Academic Family Leave, or upon the expiration of salary continuance, an employee who does not return to work is eligible to continue health, dental and vision group coverage pursuant to the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA). More information on COBRA benefits may be obtained from the HR Solutions Center at (646) 962-9247.
If an employee elects not to return to work at the end of FMLA, WCM may request the reimbursement of the College’s costs for health and dental coverage provided during unpaid leave unless the employee cannot return because of a serious health condition or other circumstances beyond his/her control.
The benefits received while on FMLA leave and benefits received while on a leave of absence due to disability without FMLA are very similar. Whether on FMLA leave or not, the guarantee to return an academic staff member to the same or equivalent position lasts a minimum of twelve (12) weeks. During disability leave, medical, dental, vision, life insurance and long term disability benefits are continued for up to twenty-six (26) weeks at the same cost as active employees pay. If a disability leave lasts more than twelve (12) weeks, the individual may request that the Medical College agree to hold the position open for longer than twelve (12) weeks, but the Medical College is not required to do so.5
Application Process and Employee Obligations
In order to receive benefits under the Salary Continuance or Academic Family Leave policies, the academic staff member must call Cigna Leave Solutions at [(888)-842-4462].
Academic staff members on temporary disability beyond three (3) months must continue to file additional disability or medical recertification forms.
An employee must provide at least thirty days advance notice to his/her department chair and division chief when the need for FMLA or Academic Family Leave is foreseeable. If it is not foreseeable, notice must be given as soon as the need for leave is known, even if the exact date(s) is not yet known. A leave may not be granted on the date requested if notice is not provided as required and the employee may be required to wait thirty (30) days before commencing his or her leave.
Request for Leave
An employee may request FMLA or Academic Family Leave by notifying the division chief and department chair and then contacting Cigna Leave Solutions at [(888)-842-4462]. Once the claim is opened with Cigna Leave Solutions, the Human Resources Department and the employee’s department administrator will be notified as to the start date and length of the leave that was requested. Cigna Leave Solutions will work with the employee and their treating physician to gather supporting documentation for the leave and will notify the employee and department administrator when the leave is approved or denied.
When possible, an employee must provide, at the time leave is requested, medical certification to support a request for FMLA for a serious health condition of a family member or of the employee. Similarly, medical certification is required to support a request for Academic Family Leave to care for a family member. In the case of an unforeseen leave, the employee must provide medical certification within fifteen (15) calendar days of the request for leave. Medical certification is documented with Cigna Leave Solutions. Failure to submit adequate medical certification may result in disallowance of the FMLA or Academic Family Leave.
If an employee is on FMLA due to a serious health condition sustained by him/herself or by a family member, recertification of medical condition must be provided at thirty-day intervals to Cigna Leave Solutions. An employee is also required to report periodically to his/her department regarding his/her intent to return to work.
An employee must provide verification of the birth date if Academic Family Leave and/or FMLA is requested to bond with a newly born, adopted or fostered child.
Health Insurance Premiums
If an employee is on paid leave of absence, all the regular deductions will be taken from their pay. If an employee is on unpaid leave of absence, the employee’s premiums will be in arrears and will be taken from the employee’s payroll check after employee returns from leave.
Return to Work
If FMLA is taken by an employee for a serious health condition, prior to returning to work, the employee must submit to the Office of Employee Relations of the Human Resources Department, a statement from the employee’s Health Care Provider indicating that the employee is able and fit to return to work.
Adherence to Policy
An employee has an obligation to adhere to the terms and conditions of the law as implemented by this policy. Failure to comply with this policy may result in termination of the leave, and/or corrective action being taken, which may include termination of employment.
- 1. a. b. Academic Leave Policy and changes related ot it herein approved by the General Faculty Council May 14, 2018 and the Executive Faculty Council October 10, 2018 to be effective January 1, 2019
- 2. Amended and approved by the Executive Faculty Council October 11, 2012, the General Faculty Council November 12, 2012, the Board of Overseers November 14, 2012 and the Board of Trustees December 6, 2012. Amended effective January 1, 2019 and approved by the General Faculty Council May 14, 2018 and the Executive Faculty Council October 10, 2018.
- 3. See also Benefits at intranet.med.cornell.edu
- 4. Effective January 1, 2019
- 5. See Benefits