Earlier this school year, fourth- and fifth- grade students at Norman Rockwell Elementary had a special video chat with Tom Angleberger, a New York Times best-selling author.
Family, Maternity and Military Caregiver Leave
The Lake Washington School District (“District”) provides family and medical leave for eligible employees pursuant to the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (“FMLA”) and the Washington Family Leave Act (“WFLA”). The WFLA generally provides the same unpaid leave benefits (but not continuation of health care) as the FMLA, and has the same eligibility requirements. If an employee takes FMLA leave, that leave generally also qualifies as WFLA leave (i.e. the periods of FMLA leave and WFLA leave run concurrently, except in certain circumstances with leave due to a pregnancy-related disability or leave to care for a Washington State-registered domestic partner).
- Eligible Employees
To be eligible for FMLA and/or WFLA leave, an employee must have worked for the District for at least 12 months, and at least 1,250 hours in the 12 month period before the start date of leave. Time that is paid but not worked is not counted toward the 1,250 hours, except in limited circumstances as required by law.
- Leave Entitlement
An eligible employee may be entitled to take leave under the FMLA and/or WFLA for the following reasons:
- To care for the employee’s newborn or newly-adopted son or daughter or newly-placed foster son or daughter;
- To care for a spouse, Washington State-registered domestic partner (WFLA only), parent, son or daughter who has a serious health condition;
- Because of the employee’s own serious health condition; “serious health condition” generally means an illness, injury, impairment, or condition that involves: inpatient care in a hospital, hospice, or residential medical care facility; a period of incapacity of more than three consecutive days; a period of incapacity due to pregnancy or prenatal care; is chronic; that requires multiple treatments by or under the direction of a health care provider; or a period of incapacity that is permanent or long-term because treatment may not be effective;
- Because of a qualifying exigency occurring when the employee’s spouse, son, daughter or parent is a covered member of the Armed Forces and is on covered active duty or has been called to covered active duty; or
- To care for a spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin who is a member of the Armed Forces or is a covered veteran and who is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy, is on outpatient status, or is on the temporary disability retired list due to a serious injury or illness incurred in the line of duty that may render the person unfit to perform the duties of the member’s office, grade, rank, or rating.
For the purposes of this policy, “son or daughter” means a biological, adopted, or foster child, a stepchild, a legal ward, or a child of a person standing in loco parentis (e.g., in the place of a parent), who is either under age 18 or age 18 and older and incapable of self-care because of a mental or physical disability at the time that the FMLA leave begins.
In addition to the FMLA and/or WFLA Leave described above, a female employee may also be entitled to Pregnancy Disability Leave (described in more detail below) for the actual period of sickness or temporary disability because of pregnancy or childbirth.
- Requesting Leave
An employee seeking family and/or medical leave must, if it is feasible, provide notice of his or her intent to take leave at least 30 days before the leave is to begin. If such notice is not feasible, the employee must provide notice as soon as possible. The notice should state the date the leave is expected to begin and the date the employee expects to return to work.
Once an employee requests or gives notice of the need for a leave, the District will provide the employee with a response to the written request, and if the leave is granted, information regarding the specific conditions and requirements of the employee’s leave will be provided.
- Medical Certification
An employee may be required to provide medical certification supporting the need for leave. Once certification is requested, the employee will have 15 calendar days to provide it, unless it is not practicable to do so despite the employee’s diligent, good faith effort. An employee may be required to obtain second and third medical opinions at the District’s expense.
An employee on leave due to his or her own serious health condition or the serious health condition of a spouse, Washington State-registered domestic partner, son, daughter, or parent may be required to provide periodic recertification that the leave continues to be necessary.
- Length of Leave
Eligible employees may be entitled to up to 12 workweeks of FMLA leave per year for one or more of the reasons listed above. “Leave year” is defined and measured as fiscal year (September 1 – August 31). In certain military-related circumstances, eligible employees may be entitled to up to 26 work weeks of FMLA Leave in a single 12-month period beginning on the first day the employee takes leave to care for the injured or ill service member or veteran. Additionally, employees may also be eligible for additional military related leave under applicable state law.
Leave to care for a newborn, newly-adopted son or daughter, or newly-placed foster son or daughter must be taken within 12 months of the birth, adoption, or placement.
If both spouses or Washington State-registered domestic partners are employed by the District, they are generally limited to a combined total of 12 workweeks of leave during any particular leave year to care for a newborn, for the placement of a son or daughter with the employee for adoption or foster care or to care for a son or daughter after placement, or to care for a parent with a serious health condition.
Leave may be taken intermittently or on a reduced hours schedule when medically necessary.
- Special Rules for Instructional Employees
Special rules may apply to instructional employees who take intermittent leave or leave on a reduced leave schedule, or who take leave near the end of the academic term. “Instructional employees” are employees whose principal function is to teach and instruct students in class, a small group, or an individual group.
- Intermittent Leave
When an instructional employee takes intermittent leave for the employee’s own serious health condition that is foreseeable based on planned medical treatment, or to care for a family member with a serious health condition or a covered service member or veteran, and the employee would be on leave for more than 20 percent of the total number of working days over the period of leave, the District may require the employee to choose either to:
- Take leave for a period or periods of a particular duration, not greater than the duration of the planned treatment; or
- Transfer temporarily to an available alternative position for which the employee is qualified, which has equivalent pay and benefits, and which better accommodates recurring periods of leave than does the employee’s regular position.
If an instructional employee fails to give the required notice of foreseeable leave to be taken intermittently or on a reduced leave schedule, the District may require the employee to take leave of a particular duration, or to transfer temporarily to an alternate position. The District may also require the employee to delay taking leave until the employee satisfies the notice requirement.
- Leave near the end of the academic term
If an instructional employee begins leave more than five weeks before the end of an academic term, the District may require the employee to continue taking leave until the end of the academic term if:
- The leave will last at least three weeks, and
- The employee would return to work during the three-week period before the end of the academic term.
If an instructional employee begins leave during the five weeks before the end of an academic term because of the birth of a son or daughter; the placement of a son or daughter for adoption or foster care; to care for a spouse, son, daughter, or parent with a serious health condition, or to care for a covered service member or veteran, the District may require the employee to continue taking leave until the end of the academic term if:
- The leave will last more than two weeks; and
- The employee would return to work during the two-week period before the end of the academic term.
If an instructional employee begins leave during the three weeks before the end of an academic term because of the birth of a son or daughter; the placement of a son or daughter for adoption or foster care; to care for a spouse, son, daughter, or parent with a serious health condition; or to care for a covered service member or veteran, the District may require the employee to continue taking leave until the end of academic term if the leave will last more than five working days.
“Academic term” means the school semester.
- Special Rules for Instructional Employees
- Required Use of Sick, Vacation, and/or Other Leave
Employees are required to use their available sick, vacation, and other paid leave during their FMLA and/or WFLA absence. Once employees exhaust their available sick, vacation, and other paid time off, FMLA and/or WFLA leave is unpaid.
- Benefits During Leave
Benefits such as vacation and sick leave do not accrue during unpaid FMLA and/or WFLA leave. By taking FMLA and/or WFLA leave, employees will not forfeit any benefits accrued before the start of the leave.
For FMLA qualifying leave only, the District will maintain group health insurance coverage for employees on leave whenever such insurance was provided before the leave was taken, and on the same terms as if the employee had continued to work. The employee must continue to pay his/her share of the premiums. Failure of the employee to pay his/her share of the health insurance premiums may result in loss of coverage.
If the employee does not return to work after the expiration of the FMLA leave, the employee may be required to reimburse the District for the payment of health insurance premiums during the family/medical leave unless the employee does not return to work due to: (1) the continuation, recurrence or onset of the employee’s or a family member’s serious health condition; (2) the serious injury or illness of a covered service member or covered veteran; or (3) other circumstances beyond the employee’s control (e.g., the employee chooses to stay home with a newborn with a serious health condition; the employee’s spouse is unexpectedly transferred to a job location more than 75 miles from the employee’s worksite, etc.).
- Job Restoration
Most employees returning from family/medical leave will be restored to the job they held before the leave, or to an equivalent job with equivalent benefits and other terms and conditions of employment. However, under some circumstances, this may not occur for instance, if the employee would have lost employment even if he or she had been continuously working instead of being on a leave of absence, such as if a position is eliminated. Moreover, certain “key” employees may lose their job restoration rights under some circumstances.
An employee returning from leave will be required to present a fitness-for-duty certificate to be restored to employment. If such certification is not received timely (on or before the employee’s return to work date), the employee’s return to work may be delayed until certification is provided.
If an employee fails to report for work within three days after the date on which he/she was to have returned to work, that employee will be presumed to have voluntarily resigned his/her position with the District.
This policy shall be interpreted to meet the requirements of federal and state law and shall not be interpreted in a way that exceeds the requirements of applicable law.
Pregnancy Disability Leave
In accordance with state law requirements, Pregnancy Disability Leave is provided to female employees who need time off because they are sick or temporarily disabled because of pregnancy or childbirth. Employees will be given leave for the actual period of their sickness or temporary disability, which the District will assume is six weeks after childbirth. If more than six weeks of leave is required, the need for additional leave must be verified by an appropriate health care professional. Pregnancy Disability Leave is provided whether or not an employee is entitled to FMLA and/or WFLA Leave. Employees must use any accrued sick leave to which they may be entitled under the District’s sick leave policy during the period of pregnancy-related disability. Except to the extent other forms of paid leave are available for use, pregnancy disability leave is unpaid. If the employee feels she needs additional leave, she should discuss any additional leave time requests with Human Resources. Employees who take pregnancy disability leave are entitled to return to the same or similar job at the same rate of pay, unless business necessity requires otherwise.
Washington Family Care Act
All employees may use any earned paid-leave (sick, vacation or other paid-time off, but excluding District disability plans) to care for sick family members. Family members include:
- A child of the employee with a health condition that requires supervision or treatment; and
- A spouse, Washington State-registered domestic partner, parent, parent-in-law, or grandparent with a serious or emergency condition;
For purposes of this policy, “child” means a biological, adopted, or foster child, a stepchild, legal ward, or child of a person standing in loco parentis who is either under age eighteen, or eighteen years of age or older and incapable of self-care because of a mental or physical disability.
“Parent” means a biological parent of the employee or an individual who stood in loco parentis to the employee when the employee was a child.
“Parent-in-law” means a parent of the spouse of the employee.
“Spouse” means a husband, wife, as the case may be.
“Sick or other paid time off” means time allowed for illness, vacation, and floating personal day. It does not include any benefit that includes leave granted by short-term or long-term disability plans or policies.
“Health condition which requires supervision or treatment” means:
- Any medical condition requiring treatment or medication that the child cannot self administer;
- Any medical or mental health condition that would endanger the child’s safety or recovery without the presence of a parent or guardian; or
- Any condition warranting treatment or preventative health care, such as physical, dental, optical, or immunization services, when a parent must be present to authorize and when sick leave may otherwise be used for the employee’s preventative health care.
“Serious health condition” means an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves any period of incapacity or treatment connected with inpatient care (i.e., an overnight stay) in a hospital, hospice, or residential medical care facility, and any period of incapacity or subsequent treatment or recovery in connection with such inpatient care; or continuing treatment by or under the supervision of a health care provider or a provider of health care services and which includes any period of incapacity (i.e., inability to work, attend school, or perform other regular daily activities).
“Emergency condition” means a health condition that is a sudden, generally unexpected occurrence or set of circumstances related to one’s health demanding immediate action, and is typically very short term in nature.
This policy shall be interpreted to meet the requirements of law and shall not be interpreted in a way that exceeds the requirements of applicable law.
29 USC 2601 et seq.