The Catholic University of America

Family and Medical and Parental Leave Policy


Approved by: The President
History: Issued               -- June 1, 1994 -
  Revised            -- February 19, 2010  
  Last Reviewed --
Related Policies: Sick Leave Policy:
Additional References: FMLA Forms; OGC Summary of Federal Law; DC FMLA; DC Safe and Sick Leave Act
Responsible Official: Associate VP/Chief Human Resources Officer, tel. 202-319-5050

 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. Federal law allows leave for military caregivers and in certain exigent situations related to the service of an employee's family member in the military or National Guard and DC law allows for "safe leave" in certain instances as well as parental leave which allows parents of children to attend school related events.

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
and consistent with university mission.

C. Eligible Employee, unless otherwise specified below, means all university faculty and staff, including graduate assistants and student employees if they have worked for the university for at least 12 months and at least 1000 hours. The 12 months need not be consecutive; however, if an employee has a break in service of greater than seven years, prior periods of employment will not be counted, subject to certain exceptions. [1]

D. Intermittent Leave means leave taken in separate blocks of time due to a single qualifying reason.

E. Reduced Schedule Leave is a leave schedule that reduces an employee's usual number of working hours per workweek, or hours per workday.

F. Safe Leave is for absences related to domestic violence and sexual abuse as defined in the DC law.

III.    Policy

An eligible employee is entitled under District of Columbia law to a total of up to sixteen (16) weeks unpaid leave in any twenty-four (24)-month period in 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 or
  • a qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee's spouse, son, daughter or parent is a covered military member on active duty (or has been notified of an impending call or order to active duty) in support of a contingency operation.

In addition, federal law permits eligible employees to take up to 26 workweeks of leave during a 12-month period to care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness if the employee is the spouse, son, daughter, parent or next of kin of the servicemember. See Section VII for more detail on military caregiver leave.

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.

For purposes of calculating leave under the law, the university uses a "rolling backward" 12-month period. Under the rolling backward method, the 12-month period will be measured backward from the date an employee requests FMLA leave to determine whether the employee is eligible for any additional leave.

Intermittent or reduced schedule leave may be taken for a serious health condition of the employee or of a covered family member or a covered servicemember or for a qualifying exigency.

If two family members are employees of the university in the same school, department or office, in which both employees have the same or interrelated duties and the absence of both employees would disrupt unduly the conduct of university business, the university may limit FMLA leave to the extent permitted by DC and federal law. 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.

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.

See the links above under additional references for more information on DC and federal law. 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 family or medical leave is required to provide 30 days advance notice of the need to take leave when the need is foreseeable and such notice if practicable. If the leave is foreseeable less than 30 days in advance, the employee must provide notice as soon as practicable-generally either the same or next business day. When the leave is not foreseeable, the employee must provide notice to the employer as soon as practicable under the facts and circumstances and shall make a reasonable effort to schedule the leave so as not to unduly disrupt the operations of the university. The employee should request such leave in writing using the FMLA leave request form online at and submit the form to the Manager of Benefits along with a medical certification form that is also available online.

When the employee requests FMLA, or when the university acquires knowledge that an employee's leave may be for an FMLA reason, the university must notify the employee of the employee's eligibility to take FMLA leave within five business days. If the leave qualifies as FMLA leave, the Manager of Benefits will return to the employee a notice designating the leave as such, and specifying the amount of time that will be counted as FMLA leave, along with a notice of eligibility and rights and responsibilities under the FMLA.

The Manager of Benefits 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. Employees with special questions about calculation of leave are directed to the Manager of Benefits.

CUA reserves the right in accordance with the law to transfer on a temporary basis an employee who is on intermittent or reduced schedule leave, to an alternative position for the which the employee is qualified and which better accommodates recurring periods of leave.

V.      Relationship to Other Types of Leave

Employees will be required to substitute paid sick leave and/or available annual leave for the first 12 weeks of FMLA leave, provided that the occurrence qualifies for the use of such leave under university policy. Any period of paid leave will count as part of the allowable period of FMLA leave provided for in the law. 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. Periods of Long Term Disability and Worker's Compensation leave run concurrently with both Federal Family and Medical Leave and District of Columbia Family and Medical Leave.

VI.     Employment Protection

A. 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 to the extent required by law. A medical release is required prior to an employee's return to work if the leave was for the employee's own condition.

B. 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 and the university will not make any contribution to pension for any employee participating in the pension plan unless the employee is out on paid leave. FMLA leave will not count as a break in service for purposes of pension vesting and eligibility. However, the university will continue to make contributions to life insurance for employees on approved family or medical leave.

VII.    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. Eligibility will be reviewed on a case by case basis by the Benefits Manager as needed. Full time students who are employed for less than 25 hours per week at the institutions they attend are 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

VIII.     Parental Leave

Employers in the District are required to provide up to 24 hours of unpaid leave during any 12-month period to an employee for the purpose of the employee's attendance or participation in school-related events for his or her child, or to celebrate the District of Columbia Emancipation Day. Eligible employees for purpose of parental leave are any employees whose services are used for pay.

The university will provide up to 24 hours of leave during any 12-month period to an employee for the purpose of the employee's attendance or participation in school-related events for his or her child. The event must be sponsored by the school or an associated organization such as the PTA, and the child must be a participant in, or subject of the event. For example, the child might be in a school play, or the child might be the subject of a parent-teacher conference.

School-related event means an activity sponsored by either a school or an associated organization such as a parent-teacher association. A school-related event includes: a student performance such as a concert, play, or rehearsal; the sporting game of a school team or practice; a meeting with a teacher or counselor; or any similar type of activity. A school-related event shall involve the parent's child directly either as participant or subject but not as a spectator.

District of Columbia Emancipation Day means April 16th of each year.

The leave will be unpaid leave unless the employee chooses to use vacation leave.

The university may deny the leave only if granting the leave would disrupt business and make the achievement of production or delivery of services unusually difficult. A decision to deny leave under this policy should not be finalized without conferring with The Director of Human Resources. Questions may be referred to the Director of Human Resources or the Office of General Counsel.

When the need for leave can be foreseen, the employee must request the leave 10 calendar days in advance of the event. An employee taking employer-approved leave under this law should not lose any employment benefit. The university will post notices describing this law.

IX.   Military Leave 

Employees are provided with various forms of military-related leave for military service and training, as caregivers of a service member, and for qualifying exigencies.  These forms of leave are set forth fully in Section VIII of the University’s Leave Policy.

[1] The two exceptions to the seven year gap are for military service obligations and breaks where there is a written contract concerning the university's intention to rehire the employee after the break in service.