The Catholic University of America

Archived 2-19-10

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

V. Resolution of Certification Disputes

The university's Chief Human Resources Officer 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: As long as the employee is using sick or vacation time as part of the leave, benefit contributions will be made as required for vacation or sick leave. Once the employee begins to use unpaid leave, benefits may be affected, but only as stated in this paragraph. 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 for any employee participating in those benefits, but participating employees may continue to make contributions. However, the university will continue to make contributions to life insurance for employees on approved family or medical leave. An employee who does not return to work after the leave period will be considered to have resigned.

IX. Special Provisions for Members of the Armed Services
Effective January 28, 2008 the federal FMLA entitles eligible employees to take leave for a covered family member's service in the Armed Forces ("service member FMLA".) Except as mentioned below, an employee's rights/obligations with regard to service member FMLA are governed by the provisions in Sections I-VIII of this policy.
"Eligible employee" for purpose of this section shall mean a spouse, son, daughter, or parent for a qualifying exigency. For the care of an ill or injured service member, eligible employee means a spouse, son, daughter, parent or next of kin of a service member.

A. Leave Entitlement
Service Member FMLA provides eligible employees unpaid leave for any one, or for a combination, of the following reasons:

  • A "qualifying exigency"[1] arising out of a covered family member's active duty or call to active duty in the Armed Forces in support of a contingency plan; and/or
  • To care for a covered family member who has incurred an injury or illness in the line of duty while on active duty in the Armed Forces provided that such injury or illness may render the family member medically unfit to perform duties of the member's office, grade, rank or rating.

B. Duration of Service Member FMLA Leave

  • When leave is due to a qualifying exigency an eligible employee may take up to 12 workweeks of leave during any 12-month period.
  • When leave is to care for an injured or ill service member, an eligible employee may take up to 26 workweeks of leave during a single 12-month period to care for the service member. Leave to care for an injured or ill service member, when combined with other FMLA-qualifying leave, may not exceed 26 weeks in a single 12-month period.
  • When both husband and wife work for the university, the aggregate number of work weeks will be limited to 26 weeks during the single 12 month period if the leave is under this section or a combination of leave under this and other sections of the policy.
  • Service member FMLA runs concurrent with other leave entitlements provided under federal, state and local law.

C. Notice and Certification

The university may require that a request for leave under this section be supported by a certification issued at such time and in such manner as the Secretary of Labor may prescribe. In any case in which the need for leave is foreseeable, the employee shall provide such notice as is reasonable and practicable.

X. DC Accrued Safe and Sick Leave Act (SSLA)

To the extent necessary to achieve compliance with the DC Accrued Safe and Sick Leave Act, it is the policy of The Catholic University of America, consistent with university mission, to allow for absences without loss of pay (as provided for in the SSLA) in those situations described in the Safe and Sick Leave Act for the employees covered by this law. Instructional staff, which includes all regular and part time faculty, all lecturers and associates of faculty, all instructors; all graduate teaching and research assistants; and all other categories of instructional staff identified in the Faculty Handbook are not covered by the SSLA. Full time students who are employed for less than 25 hours per week at the institutions they attend are also not covered by the SSLA. In addition to sick leave as defined in the SSLA, safe leave for absences related to domestic violence and sexual abuse must be provided in accord with the law. For a full description, including the text of the new law, please see http://counsel.cua.edu/DClaw/Employment/safeleave.cfm.

Editor's Note: As of the time of implementation of the SSLA, the practical effect of these new requirements at CUA is expected to be as follows:


1: Employees "covered by the law" includes all those not exempted, i.e. regular staff and certain part time temporary employees.

2. CUA regular staff employees already receive sick leave in excess of that required under SSLA; thus the only new category of leave provided by CUA under SSLA will be sick leave for non-student, non-instructional staff temporary employees (who otherwise qualify under SSLA); and safe leave to anyone who is entitled to leave under CUA policies or, consistent with CUA mission, the provisions of the SSLA.





[1] This term will be defined by regulation.