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Human Resources  |  Benefits  |  Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

In compliance with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), The University of New Mexico provides eligible employees up to twelve (12) weeks of job-protected leave within a twelve (12) month period for eligible family and medical reasons and/or up to twenty-six (26) weeks for Military Family Leave subject to the conditions outlined in Section 4.5 of Administrative Policies and Procedures Manual - Policy 3440: Family and Medical Leave.

FMLA Documents and Forms

Employee Documents

Supervisor Documents

FMLA Certification Forms

Health Care Provider Forms

Employer/Employee Forms

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is FMLA?

A: In compliance with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA" or "Act"), The University of New Mexico ("the University") provides eligible employees with job-protected leave under the provisions of UAP #3440: Family and Medical Leave.

2. How much leave is an employee entitled to use under FMLA?

A: If qualified under FMLA, the University provides eligible employees up to 12 weeks (480 hours) of leave within a 12-month period for eligible family and medical reasons, or for qualifying exigencies arising out of a military member's covered active duty or an impending call or order to active duty.

For military family leave, up to 26 weeks of leave is provided. The availability of FMLA leave is reduced by any other FMLA leave taken within the 12-month period. The University defines the 12-month period as a rolling 12-month period measured backward from the date an employee uses any FMLA leave (rolling calendar year). For the purposes of this policy, these types of leave are collectively referred to as FMLA leave. The FMLA entitlement will be prorated by the employees current FTE at time of the FMLA request.

3. What do I need to do to request FMLA?

A: For FMLA requests, employees should refer to the Human Resources (HR) Benefits Web Page for FMLA Documents and Forms. If possible, 30 days prior to an FMLA qualifying event notify supervisor of request. Complete and submit an Employee Request Form along with a Certification of Health Care Provider Form to initiate the supervisor's eligibility, event and entitlement review/determination under FMLA.

4. What is Medical Certification and why is it required?

A: The University requires medical certification to support a request for FMLA leave for medical reasons using the form language approved by the US Department of Labor. The medical certification must include a statement that the employee is unable to perform the functions of their position or for leave to care for a seriously ill family member. The medical certification must also include an estimate of the amount of time the employee is needed to provide care.

5. What is the timeline for the FMLA approval process?

A: Employees should inform their supervisor of their intent to use FMLA within 30 calendar days of the requested leave by submitting a completed FMLA request form. This begins the process and timeline for a request/review of FMLA. The supervisor will then review, request more information, or approve the FMLA request within 5 business days of the initial request by completing the Notice of Eligibility, Rights and Responsibilities. The employee will then have 15 calendar days to provide appropriate documentation in support of FMLA leave. If the supervisor does not have sufficient information to determine eligibility, the supervisor will request additional information from the employee with a deadline of 7 calendar days from the request by completing the Designation Notice.

6. What is a serious health condition?

A: A serious health condition means an illness, injury, impairment, physical or mental condition that results in an inability to work, attend school or perform other regular daily activities and involves:

  • Any period of incapacity or treatment connected with inpatient care in a hospital, hospice, or residential medical care facility, or
  • Any period of incapacity requiring continuing treatment by a health care provider.

7. Who is considered a health care provider?

A: Health care providers include podiatrists, psychologists, optometrists, chiropractors (limited), dentists, doctors of medicine or osteopathy (limited), physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and midwives, clinical social workers, Christian Science practitioners (limited), and any of those recognized by a UNM Health Plan.

8. What is considered treatment?

A: Health care providers include podiatrists, psychologists, optometrists, chiropractors (limited), dentists, doctors of medicine or osteopathy (limited), physician assistants, nurse practitioners, midwives, clinical social workers, Christian Science practitioners (limited), and any of those recognized by a UNM Health Plan.

  • Treatment two or more times within thirty (30) days of the first day of incapacity by a health care provider, or
  • Treatment by a health care provider on at least one occasion, which results in a regimen of continuing treatment under the supervision of the provider. This includes treatment for chronic conditions that require periodic visits of at least twice a year for treatment by a health care provider. Such conditions can occur over an extended period of time including recurring or episodic periods of incapacity.

9. Who is considered an "immediate family" member?

A: For the purposes of FMLA leave for family medical conditions, "immediate family" includes sons, daughters, spouses or domestic partners, parents, grandchildren, and siblings. A son or daughter includes a biological, adopted, or foster child; a stepchild; a legal ward or a child of a person standing in loco parentis.

10. How does FMLA apply to domestic partners and/or legally married same sex couples?

A: Benefits under FMLA for domestic partners and their dependents are the same as those provided to legal spouses. This policy also applies to legally married same-sex couples to include the same rights and benefits as legally married opposite-sex couples.

The University defines domestic partners as two individuals who live together in a long-term relationship of indefinite duration. There must be an exclusive mutual commitment similar to that of marriage, in which the partners agree to be financially responsible for each other's welfare and share financial obligations.

Employees who apply for domestic partner benefits are required to submit an affidavit of Domestic Partnership to HR Benefits along with supporting documentation. See UAP #3790 for qualifying criteria.

11. What if an employee has multiple health issues or multiple FMLA qualifying events?

A: Employees must initiate a separate request for new or additional FMLA qualifying events for proper review and approval under FMLA. Multiple requests will also be reviewed in accordance to the entitlement of FMLA:

  • The University provides eligible employees up to 12 weeks (480 hours) of leave within a 12-month period for eligible family and medical reasons, or for qualifying exigencies arising out of a military member's covered active duty or an impending call or order to active duty. Up to 26 weeks of leave is provided for military family leave.

12. When would an employee need to provide another Medical Certification or have to "recertify"?

A: As previously noted, the University requires medical certification to support a request for FMLA leave for medical reasons using the form language approved by the US Department of Labor. This includes subsequent requests to an initial or separate request for FMLA. Employees must recertify the original FMLA event and/or update Medical Certification if the:

  • Use and frequency of FMLA is in excess of Medical Certification provided
  • Duration of approved FMLA leave was exhausted and maximum allotment has not been reached
  • Medical condition or dates have changed and requires additional consideration

Examples:

  • #1: Lucy Lobo suffered a back injury and requested FMLA on January 1, 2014. While on approved FMLA for her back injury, Lucy's sister had an accident and will require Lucy's care. Lucy is required to submit a new FMLA request for the 2nd event for determination by her department along with a medical certification to support her sister's condition and need for care.
  • #2: Lucy Lobo had a baby on January 1, 2014. She wants to take consecutive FMLA leave from January 1 - February 28. She also wants to work part-time from March 1 - April 30. She will be returning to her regular work schedule on May 1. After her department's review,

Lucy will be required to do the following for the two different FMLA events:

  • Submit an Employee FMLA Request Form and a Medical Certification Form to support the leave request for the January 1 - February 28 consecutive leave for determination by her department.
  • Submit a secondary Employee FMLA Request Form and a Medical Certification Form for the March 1st - April 30 intermittent leave for determination by her department.

13. What is the difference between intermittent and consecutive leave?

A: Intermittent FMLA leave consists of taking leave (up to 480 hours), when medically necessary (for employee or his/her family member's serious health condition) in separate blocks of time for a single qualifying reason - or in a reduced leave schedule - reducing the employee's usual weekly or daily work schedule. The supervisor and employee must agree on the employee's normal schedule or average hours worked each week and document the agreement in writing. The use of intermittent FMLA leave for these purposes (not a serious health condition) is subject to the supervisor's approval. Consecutive FMLA leave consists of taking continuous time off from work - for up to 12 consecutive weeks, when medically necessary for a single qualifying event (for employee or his/her family member's serious health condition). Employees must initiate a separate request for new or additional FMLA qualifying events for proper review and approval under FMLA including changing from Consecutive to Intermittent FMLA or Intermittent to Consecutive FMLA.

14. While on approved FMLA, who tracks the time used?

A: The employee's department will track all time actually taken (within a rolling calendar year) as FMLA leave against the employee's FMLA leave entitlement. The employee can also track their own usage and compare it to the department's information. A supervisor must provide this information upon request by the employee, but no more often than every 30 days and only if leave was taken during that period.

15. Can an employee use any paid time off such as Sick or Annual Leave while on approved FMLA leave?

A: An employee may elect, but is not required, to use accrued annual leave or sick leave before, after or simultaneously with FMLA leave. An employee must elect paid leave usage on their original FMLA request for proper timekeeping throughout the duration of their leave approval.

  • Sick Leave requests under FMLA include (Serious Illness or Medical Condition): If the mother, newly born or newly placed child has a serious health condition, the employee has the right to take FMLA leave to care for the family member intermittently, if medically necessary. (The criteria for the use of FMLA leave within 12 months after the birth or placement would not be applicable in this given situation as the event exists due to a serious illness or medical condition.)
  • Annual Leave requests under FMLA when no Serious Illness or Medical Condition exists (Birth & Bonding): If the mother, spouse or domestic partner requests to bond with a newborn child or for a newly placed adopted or foster child, the leave must conclude within 12 months after the birth or placement. In cases where there is an intermittent leave request for bonding, employee must complete the Employees Request Form and provide supporting certification. If the supervisor agrees to permit intermittent leave, both supervisor and employee must agree to a set schedule, in writing by completing the Designation Notice.

16. If an employee elects to go unpaid while on consecutive and approved FMLA, what documents must be submitted to HR by the department?

A: If an employee is on approved consecutive FMLA leave and elects to go unpaid (not using sick/annual leave), the department must submit an ePan with FML/LWOP reason with specific dates for said transaction. An additional ePan is necessary if employee returns early or has received an approval for an extension on FMLA. For intermittent approved leave or PAID leave (including consecutive paid leave), an ePan is not necessary.

17. Are employees restricted as to when they can take leave?

A: Yes. The leave approval is based directly on your medical provider certification. For FMLA leave to bond with a newborn child or for a newly placed adopted or foster child, the leave must conclude within 12 months after the birth or placement. Note that the use of intermittent FMLA leave for bonding purposes (not a serious health condition or not consecutive leave) is subject to the supervisor's approval.

18. What if an employee exhausts their FMLA leave?

A: In certain circumstances, a leave of absence without pay may be granted to employees. However, the employee's right to return to the same position is not guaranteed. Refer to UAP #3420, Leave Without Pay (LWOP).

19. What if an employee does not have Sick or Annual Leave available to use while on approved FMLA leave (Paid leave)?

A: If an employee does not have sick or annual leave and has been approved for FMLA leave, they will be on LWOP.

20. Does an employee accrue Sick and Annual leave while on unpaid FMLA?

A: No. An employee on unpaid FMLA will not accrue Sick and Annual leave.

21. Is an employee at the University required to apply for FMLA leave if they have paid sick and/or annual leave available to cover a serious medical illness or FMLA related event?

A: No. However, the employee's supervisor/manager must provide those eligible employees who provide verbal notice of their intentions for leave under a FMLA qualifying event the FMLA information to initiate their request for such leave. Eligible employees may take FMLA leave when they are unable to perform the functions of their positions because of a serious health condition. For qualifying events under FMLA, employees will obtain job protection and the employee's certification for such event may cover the duration of excused absences under such request. In addition, FMLA leave will run concurrently with any catastrophic leave and workers' compensation leave used for FMLA qualifying medical conditions of either the employee or a qualified family member.

22. Does an employee have to exhaust their sick and annual leave before requesting FMLA?

A: No. An employee may elect, but is not required, to use accrued annual leave or sick leave before, after or simultaneously with FMLA leave.

23. What happens to an employee's benefits while on unpaid FMLA leave?

A: While on FMLA, the University continues to pay the employer portion of health benefits. The employee is responsible for continued payment of the employee portion of the premium. While on continuous unpaid FMLA, the employee has the option to cancel their benefits via MYUNM. The Employee has a 31-calendar day window to cancel and re-enroll (for coverage) under an FMLA qualifying event. For employees who cancel their benefits while on FMLA, the employee may wait to re-enroll during the next open enrollment; however coverage will not be effective until July 1st.

24. Will an employee have to contribute toward retirement while on unpaid FMLA? Does this count as earned service time?

A: No. When an employee is on unpaid leave, the University does not deduct the employer's portion of retirement contribution during this period. While on unpaid FMLA, this period does not count for earned service time for the retirement formula calculation.

25. What happens to an employee's dependent education benefit while on approved FMLA leave?

A: Dependents of employees who were participants in the dependent education program before the employee began FMLA can continue the program while the employee is on FMLA, as long the dependent remains eligible.

26. Can an employee ask how many hours of FMLA leave they have used?

A: If the amount of leave needed is known, a supervisor must inform an employee of the number of hours, days or weeks that will be counted against the employee's FMLA leave entitlement in the designation notice. Where it is not possible to provide the number of hours, days, or weeks that will be counted as FMLA leave in the designation notice (e.g., where the leave will be unscheduled), a supervisor must provide this information upon request by the employee, but no more often than every 30 days and only if leave was taken during that period.

27. Does an employee have to follow the normal call-in procedure while on approved intermittent FMLA?

A: Yes. Employees must comply with the department's internal business practice for call-in procedures.

28. What is the University's Employee Occupational Health Services (EOHS)?

A: The EOHS provides pre-placement and surveillance medical evaluations, worker's compensation injury/illness care, as well as a limited number of services to our community partners. The physicians provide consultative services upon request. This office will assist with evaluating an employee who is returning to work from FMLA leave due to his/her own serious condition. EOHS may be reached at 272-0843.

29. Is there a process for returning an employee to his/her job upon the expiration of his/her FMLA leave?

A: Employees who are returning from FMLA due to their own serious illness are required to schedule an appointment with EOHS before returning to work. The employee must take a copy of their job description so that the EOHS office can evaluate whether the employee is able to return to work with or without an accommodation.

30. Will an employee be paid for Holiday Pay while on approved FMLA leave? What if the leave is intermittent?

A: Yes. Employees who are on FMLA are eligible for Holiday Pay if they elect to be paid concurrently with sick/annual leave the day before and the day after a Holiday.

Employees on UNPAID FMLA leave are not eligible for holiday pay.

The above also applies for employees who are on intermittent FMLA leave.

31. What if my approved FMLA leave falls on a University Holiday?

A: For consecutive FMLA, if the holiday occurs within a full week scheduled to be taken or taken as FMLA leave the week is counted as a full week of FMLA leave usage.

If using FMLA leave in increments of less than one week, the holiday will not count against the employee's entitlement unless the employee was otherwise scheduled prior to the FMLA approval and expected to work during the holiday.

32. How does winter break affect my FMLA leave?

A: During the winter break when the University is closed for more than one week, the time will not count against the employee's entitlement unless the employee would otherwise have been scheduled and expected to work during winter break (i.e. critical areas within the University).

33. How is FMLA leave coordinated with other leave polices such as Catastrophic Leave or Workers' Compensation?

A: FMLA leave will be designated to run concurrently with any catastrophic leave and workers' compensation leave used for FMLA qualifying medical conditions of either the employee or a qualified family member. The department will notify the employee that the leave will be counted as FMLA leave. For more information, refer to UAP 3430 ("Catastrophic Leave Program") and UAP 3630 ("Workers' Compensation").

34. Will FMLA affect any other employee's employment transaction?

A: If applicable, the probationary and trial period end date may be extended on a day-for-day basis for full days not worked by the employee. The immediate supervisor must notify the employee in advance and in writing that they will be extending the end date due to FMLA.

If an employee is on a career ladder and requests FMLA, the time approved for FMLA leave will not count against the completion of the career ladder and the end date must be extended to include the specific work time. The immediate supervisor must notify the employee in advance and in writing that they will be extending the end date due to FMLA.

35. How is FMLA affected, if both parents or caretakers are employees of the University?

A: If both parents or caretakers are employees of the University, FMLA leave taken to care for a child upon birth or to care for a child placed with the employees for adoption or foster care is limited to a combined total of twelve (12) weeks. NOTE: If FMLA leave taken for the serious health condition of an employee or child would not be subject to the combined limit.