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Serious Illness & Disability - Questions and Answers

Leave because of a personal health condition

I have worked at the UW for eight months in a benefits eligible position, and this is my first job with the state. I just learned that I have to have surgery and will miss at least six weeks of work. I have to make sure my benefits are covered, how can I do that?
You do not meet the eligibility criteria under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), but you are entitled to use your accrued paid leave. Exactly how much leave you have depends on your appointment type, your annual leave accrual rate, and whether you have used any leave. At the lowest annual leave accrual rate, you could have as many as 16 days of combined annual and sick leave. Your healthcare benefits are covered for any month you are in pay status. If your leave is scheduled such that you did not miss a whole month of work, your benefits would be covered. If you had to miss one whole month, you would need to ensure that you use at least eight hours of your accrued leave during that month to ensure healthcare benefits coverage. You would remain responsible for any insurance premiums or co-payments.
I have a serious health condition and I have had to be on extended leave. I have used all of my paid leave and I have used my 12 weeks of FMLA leave. How can I keep my UW paid health care benefits coverage?
You would probably be eligible to receive shared leave if other employees wished to donate leave to you. If you received any shared leave, you could use it to remain in pay status for at least eight hours in any month you were on leave and that would ensure benefits continuation, except that you would remain responsible for any insurance premiums or co-payments. If you did not receive shared leave, you would have to self pay to retain benefits coverage.

Leave to care for a family member

I have worked at the UW for eight months and this is my first job with the state. My father is seriously ill and I need to request time off to care for him. How much leave can I use?
You do not meet the eligibility criteria under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), but you are entitled to use your accrued paid leave under the state's Family Care Act (FCA) to care for a family member who has a serious health condition or emergency condition. The FCA covers workers who are eligible to accrue and use paid leave. This includes shared leave if it has been donated and the employee is eligible to receive it. If your absence extends beyond the period covered by paid leave hours, approval of unpaid leave is at your department's discretion.
I have worked as a full-time staff employee for the last five years. Both my parents are seriously ill and I need to take leave. How much leave will I be able to take and will my benefits be covered?
If you meet Family and Medical Leave ACT (FMLA) eligibility requirements, you are guaranteed up to 12 weeks of job protected leave from work. The leave may be paid leave or unpaid. Your absence will also be covered under the Family Care Act (FCA) if you have paid leave or shared leave that you can use. Leave under the FMLA and the FCA can run concurrently.
If your absence extends beyond a period covered by FMLA (if eligible) and you have accrued paid leave available, you are entitled to extend your leave by using accrued paid leave under the FCA. Unpaid leave beyond that covered by the FMLA may be approved at your department's discretion.
If your leave qualifies for coverage under the FMLA, the UW continues the employer portion of medical benefits coverage for up to twelve weeks whether you are on paid or unpaid leave, but you remain responsible for premiums or co-payments. The FCA does not include any specific medical/dental benefit entitlements. However, you will continue to receive UW paid benefits during any month you are in paid leave status for at least eight hours.
Do I need to provide health care provider verification of my need for leave to take care of a seriously ill family member?
You may be required to submit health care provider certification of the need for leave due to a family member's health condition. Where such certification is required, you will be provided with the appropriate form and instructions for returning it.
Am I allowed to take intermittent leave to take care of my serious ill grandparent?
A grandparent falls under the University's definition of family member for purposes of the Family and Medical Leave ACT (FMLA). If you meet FMLA eligibility requirements, you are entitled to take leave intermittently to care for a family member where medically necessary. You would also be covered under the Family Care Act (FCA) if you had accrued paid leave available. As such you could use any or all of your choice of sick leave or other paid time off during your absence.
I need to make arrangements to put my seriously ill sister into an assisted care facility. Do I have a right to take time off?
A sister is included in the definition of family member for purposes of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and Family Care Act (FCA), so you would have the right to take time off to care for your sister consistent with the provisions of these acts. You would have to meet FMLA eligibility requirements for the time to be covered by the FMLA.
I am responsible for a seriously ill aunt and need to make arrangements to place her in an assisted care living facility. Am I eligible to take leave and what type of accrued paid leave may I take?
An aunt is not included in the definition of family member under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or the Family Care Act (FCA) (unless the aunt served as your caregiver/parent/guardian when you were under the age of 18). Therefore these laws are not applicable to your situation. With departmental approval you could use annual leave to make the necessary arrangements. If your absence extends beyond a period covered by annual leave, approval to use unpaid leave is made at your department's discretion.
I need a leave of absence to stay with my spouse who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. What are my leave and benefits entitlements and is my job protected?
If you meet Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) eligibility requirements, you may take FMLA protected leave to care for a seriously ill spouse. This could include situations where the spouse is unable to care for his or her own basic medical, hygienic, or nutritional needs or safety, or is unable to transport himself or herself to the doctor, etc. For conditions covered by FMLA, an employee is also entitled to leave to provide psychological comfort and reassurance that would be beneficial to a to a family member with a serious health condition who is receiving inpatient or home care.
Under the Family Care Act (FCA) you are entitled to use any or all of your choice of accrued paid leave to care for your spouse if inpatient care is required or a period of your spouse is incapacitated because of a health condition. Leave that is covered by FMLA and the FCA can run concurrently.
My domestic partner has just been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Am I eligible to take leave and what type of accrued paid leave may I take?
A domestic partner is included in the University's definition of family member for the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave and leave taken under the Family Care Act (FCA). You are therefore entitled to use paid leave to care for your domestic partner.
Are there resources available to assist me with making arrangements to take care of my parent who is seriously ill?
Yes, resource and referral services are available through the Retirement Center and the Work/Life Office as part of the UW Eldercare Initiative. You may contact the Eldercare Initiative by email at eldersuw@u.washington.edu, or consult the Elder Care Initiative webpage
Offerings also include workshops, seminars and support groups on eldercare issues. The Eldercare Initiative is coordinated by the UW Retirement Center in collaboration with the Work/Life Office.

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