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Family and Medical Leave Act


During 2015, UW will transition to a rolling 12-month period to calculate the balance of the 12 workweeks of FMLA leave available each year to eligible employees. The transition to the rolling 12-month period will take full effect on January 1, 2016. For more details about this change view the FMLA Update tab.


Leave Planning & Administration

This page describes the provisions of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). It does not address leave planning or leave administration. See also information about the state's Family Care Act.

Managers and Supervisors: See the Manager's FMLA and FCL website for information about leave administration, leave certification, etc.

Employees: For help with leave planning and other important information see:

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides job protected leave and benefits coverage entitlements to employees who meet FMLA eligibility requirements. The entitlements and eligibility requirements are described in the table below.

UW Family Member Definition

The FMLA has its own definition of "family member". For purposes of the FMLA, the University has adopted a common definition for "family member" that is more inclusive. The University's definition is as follows:

Family member means the employee's spouse or same or opposite sex domestic partner, child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sister, or brother. Family member also means individuals in the following relationships with the employee's spouse or domestic partner: child, parent, or grandparent. It also includes those persons in a “step” relationship.

FMLA Eligibility and Entitlements
Family and Medical Leave Act
FMLA Eligibility

Generally, a qualifying leave (see next section) will be covered by the FMLA if an employee has worked for the UW or the state of Washington at least 60% FTE for at least one year, and has not already used the annual 12 week FMLA leave entitlement.

More specifically, an employee is covered by the FMLA if he or she meets the following eligibility requirements:

  • Completion of 12-months of cumulative state service (or 52 weeks of work if the work is intermittent); and,
  • Worked for the state at least 1,250 hours*, including overtime, in the 12 months immediately preceding the date the FMLA leave will begin (Working for the "state" includes University employment.). Paid and unpaid leave is not counted as part of the 1,250 hours*; except for military leave, and,
  • Has not already used the current year's 12 week FMLA leave entitlement.

*Hours worked are not counted for overtime exempt professional staff and for excepted classified staff (indicated by "NO" designation in overtime column in the compensation plan). These employees are automatically considered to have worked 1,250 hours unless the work records clearly reflect otherwise (for example - a 50% FTE employee will normally not have worked 1,250 hours in a 12 month period).

Employee Leave Entitlements

The FMLA guarantees that an eligible employee can have job-protected time off work as follows:

A) Up to 12 workweeks of job-protected time off work per year because of:

  1. A serious health condition,
  2. A family member's serious health condition,
  3. Parental leave to care for a newborn or newly adopted or placed child. (NOTE: for birth mothers, any period of pregnancy-related temporary disability leave is not deducted from the 12 week parental leave entitlement).
  4. A qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee's family member is on covered active duty (or has been notified of an impending call or order to covered active duty) in the regular Armed Forces Reserves or National Guard.


B) If the employee is an eligible family member or next of kin of a covered service member, the employee can have up to 26 workweeks of "Service Member Family Leave" during a single 12-month period to care for a covered service member who is:

  • Undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy,
  • Otherwise in outpatient status, or
  • On the temporary disability retired list for a serious injury or illness
  • To care for veteran who is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation or therapy for serious injury or illness that occurred any time during the five years preceding the date of treatment.

If FMLA covered leave is taken under A and B above, the combination of leave taken may not exceed 26 workweeks in a single 12-month period. The amount of leave taken under A may never exceed 12 weeks during the single 12-month period, even if the employee takes fewer than 14 weeks of FMLA leave under B. Where medically necessary, leave may be taken on an intermittent basis or as a reduced work schedule

Husband and Wife: The combined number of workweeks of leave to which both husband and wife may be entitled under "A4" and "B" above may be limited to a combined total of 26 workweeks during the single 12-month period.

Employee Notice and Certification Requirements

Employees are expected to give at least 30 days notice of the need for leave, where the need for leave is foreseeable; or,

For leave under A4 in the preceding row of this table, when the need for leave is not foreseeable, the employee must provide notice as soon as both possible and practical.

Employers may require certification of the reason for taking FMLA covered leave. Contact your Human Resources Consultant for assistance.

Use of Paid Leave

Employees can use eligible paid leave, compensatory time, or a personal holiday while on FMLA leave.

Use of donated shared leave is normally covered by the FMLA, as long as the employee meets both the FMLA and shared leave eligibility criteria.

Intermittent Leave or Working a Reduced Schedule

The FMLA guarantees an employee the right to take FMLA covered leave intermittently or as part of a reduced work schedule when medically necessary.

For parental leave, the supervisor may require that leave be taken in one continuous period of time away from work. Under state law, a birth mother's period of temporary pregnancy-related disability is not deducted from the 12-week FMLA leave entitlement.

Unpaid Leave

Under the FMLA, the employee is guaranteed time away from work. However, if the employee does not have available paid leave, the time off is taken as leave without pay.

Benefits Entitlements

During a leave covered by the FMLA, the UW pays the employer-paid portion of medical benefits coverage for up to 12 workweeks or up to 26 workweeks for "B" in "Employee Leave Entitlements" above. The employee is responsible for any insurance co-payments, extra premiums to cover family members, life insurance, long term disability insurance, parking fees, or other payroll deductions.

For employees whose leave extends beyond the FMLA-covered period, employer paid medical benefits coverage is continued as long as the employee is in pay status for at least eight (8) hours during each month of leave. Employees who do not have available paid leave may self-pay in order to continue basic medical benefits coverage.

Return to Work Rights

The FMLA entitles an employee to return to the position held prior to the leave, or to a position that is virtually identical (i.e. job title, work location, salary, work hours etc.).

FMLA Update – Notice of Change to the 12-month FMLA Period

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows eligible employees to use up to 12 weeks of job-protected FMLA leave in a 12-month period because of a personal serious health condition, to care for a family member with a serious health condition, for parental leave, to assist a family member on active duty or who is called to active duty status. The FMLA requires employers to use one of four methods to establish the 12-month period the employer will use when determining an employee's FMLA leave availability and to track the employee's FMLA leave use. For staff, the University currently uses the calendar year as the "12-month period." The FMLA also allows employers to change from one method for establishing the 12-month period to another method by giving employees notice and by ensuring that employees receive maximum FMLA eligibility during the change.

Beginning January 2016, the UW will change to the rolling 12-month period to track FMLA leave availability and use. The UW will provide a transition period beginning January 1, 2015, and that will span the entire calendar year of 2015. During this transition period, employees taking FMLA will do so using whichever method yields the greatest FMLA leave benefit to the employee.