The Catholic University of America
Archived 2/19/08

I. Introduction
Employees at The Catholic University of America benefit from both the federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (29 U.S.C. § 2601) and the District of Columbia Family and Medical Leave Act of 1990 (DC Code Ann. § 32-502). Both laws allow eligible employees to take job-protected, unpaid leave for the birth of a child, adoption of a child, or placement of a child for foster care. The laws also allow leave when the employee is needed to care for a family member with a serious health condition, or when the employee has a serious health condition.

II. Definitions

A. Serious health condition means a physical or mental illness, injury or impairment that involves (a) inpatient care in a hospital, hospice, or residential health care facility, or (b) continuing treatment or supervision at home by a health care provider or other competent individual.

B. Family member includes a person to whom the employee is related by blood, legal custody or marriage, a child placed with an employee for whom the employee permanently assumes and discharges parental responsibility, or other persons as defined by law.

III. Policy
A regular full or part-time employee who has been employed continuously by the university for at least one year immediately preceding the request for leave is entitled under District of Columbia law to up to sixteen (16) weeks in any twenty four (24)-month period, in any of the following instances:

  • the birth, adoption, or the placement of a child for foster care; or
  • the placement of a child for whom the employee assumes permanent parental responsibilities; or
  • the care of a family member of the employee who has a serious health condition.

Such employees are also entitled to up to 16 work weeks of unpaid medical leave during any 24-month period for the following:

  • the period of time that an employee's own serious health condition prevents the performance of the functions of his/her position.

Federal law permits eligible employees to take up to 12 work weeks of leave during any 12-month period for one or more of the following:

  • the birth of a child, or
  • the placement of an adoptive or foster child with the employee, or care for the employee's spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition, or
  • the employee's own serious health condition which makes the employee unable to perform the functions of the position.

Therefore, an employee might be entitled to more leave than the D.C.-mandated 16 work weeks in a 24-month period depending on his or her circumstances. Further leave may be approved when the employee has a disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and meets the other statutory requirements for accommodation under the ADA. An otherwise qualified individual with a disability is entitled to more than 12 (16) weeks of unpaid leave as a reasonable accommodation if the additional leave would not impose an undue hardship on the operation of the employer's business. To evaluate whether additional leave would impose an undue hardship, the employer may consider the impact on its operations caused by the employee's initial 12 (16) week absence, along with the undue hardship factors specified in the ADA.

The leave period begins on the first work day of the employee's first qualifying leave within the past 12- or 24-month period, as applicable. Employees with special questions about calculation of leave are directed to the Office of Human Resources.

Leave may be taken intermittently under certain circumstances. It shall not be taken for a birth, adoption or placement unless the employee and the Director of Human Resources agree. It may be taken for a serious health condition of the employee's family member or the employee him/herself, when medically necessary and with the approval of the Director of Human Resources. Entitlement to leave attendant to birth, adoption or placement expires 12 months after the birth, adoption or placement of a child with the employee.

An employee who does not return to work after an approved family or medical leave shall be considered to have resigned.


IV. Procedures for Requesting Family or Medical Leave: Certification Process

An employee seeking unpaid family or medical leave should request such leave in writing to their supervisor who will forward it to the Director of Human Resources for review. The request should include the following documentation:

  • In the case of family leave for birth, adoption or placement of a child with an employee, the employee should provide appropriate legal documentation to substantiate the request.
  • In the case of family leave for the care of a family member, the employee must include the written certification of a licensed health care provider, stating the date on which the serious health condition commenced, the probable duration of the condition, and the appropriate medical facts entitling the employee to take leave. The certification must also include the amount of time the employee is needed to care for the family member.
  • For medical leave for the employee, the employee must include the written certification of a licensed health care provider, stating the date on which the serious health condition commenced, the probable duration of the condition, and the appropriate medical facts entitling the employee to take leave. The certification must also include a statement that the employee is unable to perform the functions of the employee's job.

Family leave for the care of a family member or medical leave for an employee may be taken intermittently when medically necessary.

The Director of Human Resources will inform the dean or department director and the cognizant vice president of any approved leaves.

V. Resolution of Certification Disputes

The university's Director of Human Resources may require a second opinion, at university expense, of a health care provider approved by the university. If the second opinion differs from the original certification, the employee may be required to obtain the opinion of a third health care provider mutually agreed upon by the university and the employee. The university shall pay the cost of the opinion of the third health care provider, whose opinion shall be final and binding. This provider may not be retained on a regular basis by the university or the employee or otherwise bear a close relationship to the university or the employee.

The university may require that the employee obtain subsequent certification on a reasonable basis. The university shall keep any medical information obtained from a certification report confidential, and will use such information only to make decisions regarding the employee's family or medical leave.

VI. Relationship to Other Kinds of Leave

Accumulated annual leave may be counted against the 12 (or 16) weeks of allowable family or medical leave.

Accumulated sick leave may be counted against the 12 (or 16) weeks of allowable medical leave.

If two family members are employees of the university in the same school, department or office, they are entitled to an aggregate of not more than 12 work weeks of medical or family leave for any 12-month period (or 16 weeks for any 24-month period), not more than 12 weeks of which may be simultaneous if the leave is family leave for the birth or adoption of a child or the care of a sick parent. If the leave is requested for the care of a child or of the other spouse with a serious health condition, each spouse is entitled to 12 weeks of leave.

Federal family and medical leave and District of Columbia family and medical leave run concurrently and cannot be used consecutively if leave is covered under both laws.

VII. Notice Required by Employees Seeking Leave

If the necessity for family leave is foreseeable based on an expected birth or placement of a child with an employee, the employee shall provide his supervisor with reasonable notice in writing of the birth or placement. If the necessity for family leave is foreseeable based on planned medical treatment or supervision, the employee shall provide his supervisor with reasonable prior written notice and shall make a reasonable effort to schedule the leave so as not to unduly disrupt the operations of the university. For these purposes, the employee should provide at least thirty (30) days' notice.

VIII. Employment Protection

Position Protection: Upon return from family or medical leave, the employee shall be restored to the position of employment previously held by the employee or to an equivalent position with equivalent benefits, pay, seniority, and other terms and conditions of employment.

Benefits Protection: An employee does not lose benefits accrued at the time of the approved family or medical leave. An employee will continue to be eligible to participate in health insurance on the same basis as if the leave were not taken. The university's contribution to health insurance will continue during the approved leave period so long as the employee contribution continues. In other respects, the leave will be treated as an approved leave of absence without pay: the university will not make any contribution to pension or life insurance for any employee participating in those benefits, but participating employees may continue to make contributions.

An employee who does not return to work after the leave period will be considered to have resigned.

This policy shall be administered by the Director of Human Resources.