University of Washington Policy Directory

Print This Page
*Formerly part of the University Handbook
Administrative Policy Statement

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Coverage for University Employees

(Approved by the President by delegations of authority Executive Order No. 4 and Executive Order No. 9)

1.  Purpose

The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) provides leave and job protections to eligible employees as follows:

  • Up to 12 workweeks of job-protected unpaid leave from work in a 12-month period for the reasons specified in Title 29 CFR §825.100 et. seq. This leave may be taken intermittently or as a reduced work schedule in accordance with Title 29 CFR §825.202.

  • The 12-month period the University uses to calculate FMLA leave use is measured using the rolling 12-month period as established in Title 29 CFR §825.200 and as specified on the FMLA websites noted in Section 7.

  • Up to maximum of 26 workweeks of job-protected "Service Member Family Leave" during a single 12-month period in accordance with Title 29 CFR §825.127. If an employee is eligible to take a combination of both FMLA "Service Member Family Leave" and FMLA leave for another covered reason in a single 12-month period, the combination of FMLA leave taken may not exceed 26 workweeks during that 12-month period.

  • The right to be restored to the position the employee held at the time the leave commenced, or to a position with equivalent employment benefits, pay, and other terms and conditions of employment upon return from FMLA leave, subject to limitations contained in the FMLA.

  • The continuation of the University paid portion of the employee health insurance benefits during the period of FMLA covered leave for employees who are eligible for coverage at the time of the leave. Employees remain responsible for their portion of health insurance coverage, any optional insurance coverage, other payroll deductions, and insurance copayments.

  • Protection from the University interfering with, denying, or otherwise restricting an employee's exercise of, or attempts to exercise, the rights provided by the FMLA. The University may not use an employee's use of FMLA leave as a factor in evaluating job performance or attendance, or as a basis for corrective action.

2.  Scope

The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 applies to all University employees. Eligibility for leave is defined in Section 4.

3.  Definitions

The meaning of terms used in the policy are as provided in the definitions section of the FMLA regulations (Title 29 CFR §825.102) and as otherwise provided in the FMLA regulations, except for "family member" for which the University uses the following expanded definition:

Family member means the employee's spouse or Washington State registered domestic partner, child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sister, or brother. Family member also means individuals in the following relationships with the employee's spouse or Washington State registered domestic partner: child, parent, or grandparent. It also includes those persons in a "step" or "half" relationship.

Parent means a biological, adoptive, step or foster father or mother, or any other individual who stood in loco parentis to the employee when the employee was a son or daughter. This term does not include parents "in law." "In loco parentis" refers to an adult who acted as a child's parent (such as providing day-to-day care or financial support) even if the individual has no legal or biological relationship to the child.

Child includes a son or daughter and includes a biological, adopted, or foster child, a stepchild, a legal ward, or a child of a person standing in loco parentis who is either under age 18 or age 18 or older and "incapable of self-care because of a mental or physical disability" at the time FMLA leave begins.

4.  FMLA Eligibility

To be eligible for FMLA leave, an employee must have a record of 12 months of cumulative state of Washington employment and have worked for the state of Washington for at least 1,250 hours, including overtime, in the 12 months immediately preceding the date the FMLA leave will begin. State of Washington employment includes University of Washington employment and employment with other state of Washington agencies. Paid time off and unpaid time off are not counted as part of the 1,250 hours.

5.  Use of Paid Time Off During FMLA Covered Leave

The leave guaranteed by the FMLA is unpaid unless an employee chooses to use available paid time off during FMLA-covered absences consistent with the terms of their employment program or collective bargaining agreement. Employees may receive State of Washington Paid Family and Medical Leave payments concurrently with the FMLA.

6.  Certifications of Need for FMLA Leave and Return to Work

  A. Health Care Provider Verification

The FMLA permits the University to obtain health care provider verification of the medical facts relating to an employee's absence, and it specifies the manner in which the University may obtain such verification. The University has developed standardized health care provider verification forms and processes to comply with FMLA regulations. Units may not create their own forms. The University may seek periodic health care provider recertification to support the need for continuing leave.

Information the University receives about an employee's or an employee's family member's medical condition is kept confidential and separate from an employee's personnel file.

  B. Additional Health Care Provider Opinions

The University may require an employee to obtain a second opinion by a provider of the University's choice at its expense. If the first and second opinions conflict, the University may pay for a third and final health care provider to offer an opinion which shall determine the employee's FMLA leave eligibility.

  C. Military Status

The University may require verification of a family member's call to active duty or a family member's status as a covered service member who is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy; is otherwise in outpatient status; or who is otherwise on the temporary disability retired list for a serious injury or illness. In the latter case, the same medical confidentiality provisions apply as in Section 6.a above.

  D. Return to Work Certification

As a condition for returning to work from FMLA leave, the University requires employees to provide a fitness-for-duty certification from the employee's health care provider regarding the health condition(s) that caused the employee to take FMLA leave.

7.  University of Washington's FMLA Web Resources

For guidance regarding FMLA eligibility and responding to requests for FMLA leave, including University approved forms, see the following University resources:

For academic personnel:

For staff and student employees:

8.  History

May 1998; September 10, 2008; October 2, 2015; February 1, 2022.