Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in a 12-month period for specified family and medical reasons. To determine an employee's FMLA period, the University of St. Thomas uses the 12-month period prior to the commencement of the leave of absence.

Employee Eligibility

To be eligible for FMLA benefits, an employee must:

  1. have worked for UST for a total of 12 months;
  2. have worked at least 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months; and
  3. work at a location in the United States or in any territory or possession of the United States where at least 50 employees are employed by the employer within 75 miles.

Filing a FMLA Claim

FMLA and short-term disability benefits are administered by Sun Life and FMLASource, which specializes in reviewing, approving, processing and tracking FMLA and short-term disability leave requests with the oversight of expert medical and legal staff.  Click here for a brochure on Sun Life.

You can file a claim over the phone or online.  To begin the process of filing a claim, please contact Sun Life and FMLASource in one of the ways below:

  • Phone:  877-SUN-LIFE (877-786-3652)
  • TDD:  800-697-0353
  • Fax:  877-309-0218
  • Online:  (Your Employee Number is your UST ID number)

Leave Entitlement

Under the recommendation of FMLASource and Sun Life, UST will grant an eligible employee up to a total of 12 workweeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period for one or more of the following reasons:

  • Birth and care of the employee's child, within one year of birth
  • Placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care, within one year of the placement 
  • To provide care for an immediate family member (spouse, child, parent) who has a serious health condition
  • For the employee's own serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job
  • Any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee's spouse, son, daughter, or parent is on active duty or has been notified of an impending call or order to active duty in the U.S. National Guard or Reserves in support of a contingency operation 

Also allowable are up to twenty-six workweeks of leave during a single 12-month period to care for a covered service member with a serious injury or illness if the employee is the spouse, son, daughter, parent , or next of kin of the service member (Military Caregiver Leave).  Read more about special rules for returning reservists under USERRA.

Spouses employed by UST are jointly entitled to a combined total of 12 workweeks of family leave for the birth and care of the newborn child, for placement of a child for adoption or foster care, and to care for a parent who has a serious health condition.

Leave for birth and care, or placement for adoption or foster care, must conclude within 12 months of the birth or placement.

Under some circumstances, employees may take FMLA leave intermittently — which means taking leave in blocks of time, or by reducing their normal weekly or daily work schedule.

  • If FMLA leave is for birth and care or placement for adoption or foster care, use of intermittent leave is subject to the employer's approval.
  • FMLA leave may be taken intermittently whenever medically necessary to care for a seriously ill family member, or because the employee is seriously ill and unable to work.

UST requires that employees use accrued paidleave (such as sick or vacation leave) to cover some or all of the FMLA leave.

 "Serious health condition" means an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves either:

  • Any period of incapacity or treatment connected with inpatient care (i.e., an overnight stay) in a hospital, hospice, or residential medical-care facility, and any period of incapacity or subsequent treatment in connection with such inpatient care; or
  • Continuing treatment by a health care provider which includes any period of incapacity (i.e., inability to work, attend school or perform other regular daily activities) due to:
    1. A health condition (including treatment or recovery) lasting more than three (3) consecutive days, and any subsequent treatment or period of incapacity relating to the same condition, that also includes:
      • treatment two or more times by or under the supervision of a health care provider; or
      • one treatment by a health care provider with a continuing regimen of treatment; or
    1. Pregnancy or prenatal care. A visit to the health care provider is not necessary for each absence; or
    2. A chronic serious health condition which continues over an extended period of time, requires periodic visits to a health care provider, and may involve occasional episodes of incapacity (e.g., asthma, diabetes). A visit to a health care provider is not necessary for each absence; or
    3. A permanent or long-term condition for which treatment may not be effective (e.g., Alzheimer's, a severe stroke, terminal cancer). Only supervision by a health care provider is required, rather than active treatment; or
    4. Any absences to receive multiple treatments for restorative surgery or for a condition which would likely result in a period of incapacity of more than three days if not treated (e.g., chemotherapy or radiation treatments for cancer).

"Health care provider" means:

  • Doctors of medicine or osteopathy authorized to practice medicine or surgery by the state in which the doctors practice; or
  • Podiatrists, dentists, clinical psychologists, optometrists and chiropractors (limited to manual manipulation of the spine to correct a subluxation as demonstrated by X-ray to exist) authorized to practice, and performing within the scope of their practice, under state law; or
  • Nurse practitioners, nurse-midwives and clinical social workers authorized to practice, and performing within the scope of their practice, as defined under state law; or
  • Christian Science practitioners listed with the First Church of Christ, Scientist in Boston, Massachusetts; or
  • Any health care provider recognized by the employer or the employer's group health plan benefits manager.

Maintenance of Health Benefits

UST is required to maintain group health insurance coverage for an employee on FMLA leave whenever such insurance was provided before the leave was taken and on the same terms as if the employee had continued to work. If applicable, arrangements will need to be made for employees to pay their share of health insurance premiums while on leave.

In some instances, UST may recover premiums it paid to maintain health coverage for an employee who fails to return to work from FMLA leave.

Job Restoration

Upon return from FMLA leave, an employee must be restored to the employee's original job, or to an equivalent job with equivalent pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment.  In addition, an employee's use of FMLA leave cannot result in the loss of any employment benefit that the employee earned or was entitled to before using FMLA leave, nor be counted against the employee under a "no fault" attendance policy.

 Under specified and limited circumstances where restoration to employment will cause substantial and grievous economic injury to its operations, an employer may refuse to reinstate certain highly-paid "key" employees after using FMLA leave during which health coverage was maintained. In order to do so, UST must:

  • Notify the employee of his/her status as a "key" employee in response to the employee's notice of intent to take FMLA leave;
  • Notify the employee as soon as UST decides it will deny job restoration, and explain the reasons for this decision;
  • Offer the employee a reasonable opportunity to return to work from FMLA leave after giving this notice; and
  • Make a final determination as to whether reinstatement will be denied at the end of the leave period if the employee then requests restoration.

A "key" employee is a salaried "eligible" employee who is among the highest paid ten percent of employees within 75 miles of the work site.

 Notice and Certification

Employees seeking to use FMLA leave are required to provide 30-day advance notice of the need to take FMLA leave when the need is foreseeable and such notice is practicable. FMLASource and Sun Life may also require employees to provide:

  • Medical certification supporting the need for leave due to a serious health condition affecting the employee or an immediate family member;
  • Second or third medical opinions (at the employer's expense) and periodic recertification; and
  • Periodic reports during FMLA leave regarding the employee's status and intent to return to work.

When intermittent leave is needed to care for an immediate family member or the employee's own illness, and is for planned medical treatment, the employee must try to schedule treatment so as not to unduly disrupt UST's operations.

Other Provisions

Salaried executive, administrative, and professional employees of covered employers who meet the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) criteria for exemption from minimum wage and overtime under Regulations, 29 CFR Part 541, do not lose their FLSA-exempt status by using any unpaid FMLA leave. This special exception to the "salary basis" requirements for FLSA's exemption extends only to "eligible" employees' use of leave required by FMLA. The FMLA does not affect any other federal or state law which prohibits discrimination, nor supersede any state or local law which provides greater family or medical leave protection.