Personnel -- Certified/Non-Certified
Family and Medical Leave (FMLA)
The purpose of this policy is to apprise employees of their rights, and establish guidelines for leaves taken by employees of the Newtown Board of Education (the “Board”), under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (“FMLA”) and applicable Connecticut state law. This policy is not intended to, and does not, recite every provision of applicable law and regulations.
Employees other than school paraprofessionals who have been employed by the Board for at least twelve (12) months, and who have worked at least 1,250 actual work hours during the twelve (12) months immediately preceding the start of a leave, are eligible for unpaid leave under the FMLA.
A school paraprofessional in an educational setting is eligible for the leave described in this policy if the paraprofessional has worked for the Board for at least twelve (12) months, and has worked at least 950 service hours during the twelve (12) months immediately preceding the start of such leave.
Full-time instructional employees meet the 1,250 hours of service requirement unless the Board can demonstrate that the full-time instructional employee did not meet the 1,250 hours of service requirement in the 12-month period prior to the start of leave.
Genetic information: For purposes of this policy, “genetic information” includes an individual’s family medical history, the results of an individual’s or family member’s genetic tests, the fact that an individual or an individual’s family member sought or received genetic services, and genetic information of a fetus carried by an individual or an individual’s family member or an embryo lawfully held by an individual or family member receiving assistive reproductive services.
Instructional employee: For purposes of this policy, an “instructional employee” is defined as a teacher or other employee of the Board who is employed principally in an instructional capacity and whose principal function is to teach and instruct students in a class, a small group, or an individual setting, and includes athletic coaches, driving instructors, and special education assistants such as signers for the hearing impaired. The term does not include teacher assistants or aides who do not have as their principal function actual teaching or instructing, nor auxiliary personnel such as counselors, psychologists, curriculum specialists, cafeteria workers, maintenance workers, bus drivers, or other primarily non-instructional employees.
Paraprofessional: For purposes of this policy, a “paraprofessional” means a school employee who performs duties that are instructional in nature or deliver either direct or indirect services to students and/or parents and serves in a position for which a teacher has ultimate responsibility for the design and implementation of educational programs and services. This definition is only used for the purpose of calculating eligibility for the leave described in this policy at the 950 hour threshold.
Reasons for Leave
Leaves under the FMLA and applicable state law may be taken for the following reasons:
- incapacity due to pregnancy, prenatal medical care or child birth; or
- to care for the employee's newborn child; or
- the placement of a child with the employee by adoption or for foster care; or
- to care for the employee's spouse, child or parent who has a serious health condition; or
- to care for the employee's own serious health condition that renders the employee unable to perform the functions of the employee’s position; or
- to serve as an organ or bone marrow donor; or
- to care for an injured or ill servicemember (see below – Length of Leave – for further information); or
- a qualifying exigency arising out of a family member’s military service, including one or more of the following reasons (note – more detailed information on the following categories is available from the Human Resources (HR) Department:
- short-notice deployment;
- military events and related activities;
- childcare and school activities;
- financial and legal arrangements;
- rest and recuperation;
- post-deployment activities;
- parental care leave for military member’s parent who is incapable of self-care and care is necessitated by the military member’s covered active duty;
- additional activities that arise out of the active duty or call to active duty status of a covered military member, provided that the Board and the employee agree that such leave qualifies as an exigency, and agree to both the timing and the duration of such leave.
- Basic FMLA Leave Entitlement
The 12-month entitlement period for family or medical leave is measured on the basis of a “rolling” 12-month period measure backward from the date an employee uses any FMLA leave. For example, as of today’s date if an employee has taken five (5) weeks of during the past twelve (12) months, the employee may take up to an additional seven (7) weeks of leave.
- Leave to Care for an Injured or Ill Servicemember
For servicemembers, the injury or illness must render the servicemember medically unable to perform the duties of office, grade, rank or rating. This provision applies to servicemembers who are undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy, are in outpatient status, or who are on the temporary disability retired list, for a serious injury or illness.
For covered veterans, the veteran must be undergoing medical treatment, recuperation or therapy for a serious injury or illness and must have been (1) a member of the Armed Forces (including the National Guard or Reserves); (2) discharged or released under conditions that were other than dishonorable; and (3) discharged within the five-year period before the eligible employee first takes FMLA military caregiver leave to care for the veteran.
For covered veterans, serious injury or illness means any of the following:
(i) a continuation of a serious injury or illness that was incurred or aggravated when the covered veteran was a member of the Armed Forces and rendered the servicemember unable to perform the duties of the servicemember's office, grade, rank, or rating; or
(ii) a physical or mental condition for which the covered veteran has received a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Service-Related Disability Rating (VASRD) of 50 percent or greater, and such VASRD rating is based, in whole or in part, on the condition precipitating the need for military caregiver leave; or
(iii) a physical or mental condition that substantially impairs the covered veteran's ability to secure or follow a substantially gainful occupation by reason of a disability or disabilities related to military service, or would do so absent treatment; or
(iv) an injury, including a psychological injury, on the basis of which the covered veteran has been enrolled in the Department of
Veterans Affairs Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers.
When combined with any other type of FMLA qualifying leave, total leave time may not exceed twenty-six (26) weeks in a single twelve (12) month period. Standard FMLA leave procedures described below apply to all requests for and designation of leave for this purpose. However, in the case of leave to care for a servicemember with a serious injury or illness, the 12-month period begins on the day such leave actually commences.
 The employee’s first date of leave must be within the five-year period. However, the employee may continue to take leave throughout the single 12-month period even if the leave extends past the five-year period. Note - special rules may apply to calculating the five-year period for veterans discharged between October 28, 2009 and March 8, 2013. This period will effectively be excluded from the five-year calculation.
(a) Full-Time, Intermittent and Reduced Schedule Leave
Full-time leave excuses the employee from work for a continuous period of time. Full-time unpaid leave may be taken for any of the reasons permitted by the FMLA.
Intermittent leave means leave taken due to a single qualifying reason in separate periods of time rather than for one continuous period of time. Examples of intermittent leave include: leave taken one day per week over a period of a few months; or leave taken on an occasional/as-needed basis for medical appointments.
Reduced schedule leave is leave that reduces the employee's usual number of work hours per day for some period of time. For example, an employee may request half-time work for a number of weeks so the employee can assist in the care of a seriously ill parent.
In addition, Intermittent or reduced schedule leave may be taken (a) when medically necessary for an employee's or covered family member's serious health condition, or for a covered service member's serious illness or injury, and (b) the need for leave can be best accommodated through an intermittent or reduced schedule leave. In addition, FMLA leave may be taken intermittently or on a reduced schedule basis (1) due to a qualifying exigency; or (2) to effectuate the placement of a child for adoption or foster care before the placement of the child in the home.If foreseeable intermittent or reduced schedule leave is medically required based upon planned medical treatment of the employee or a family member or a covered service member, including during a period of recovery from an employee’s or family member’s serious health condition or a serious injury or illness of a covered service member, the Board may, in its sole discretion, temporarily transfer the employee to another job with equivalent pay and benefits that better accommodates the type of leave requested. Also, special arrangements may be required of an instructional employee who needs to take intermittent or reduced-schedule leave which will involve absence for more than twenty (20) percent of the work days in the period over which the leave will extend (for example, more than five days over a five-week period), if the leave is to care for a family member with a serious health condition, to care for a covered service member with a serious injury or illness, or for the employee’s own serious health condition, which is foreseeable based on planned medical treatment. In such situations, the Board may require the instructional employee to transfer temporarily to another job or take leave for a particular duration, not to exceed the duration of the planned medical treatment.
(b) Both Spouses Working for the Same Employer
If both spouses are eligible employees of the Board and request leave for the birth, placement of a child by adoption or for foster care, or to care for a parent with a serious health condition, they only will be entitled to a maximum combined total leave equal to twelve (12) weeks in the 12-month entitlement period. If either spouse (or both) uses a portion of the total 12-week entitlement for one of the purposes in the preceding sentence, each is entitled to the difference between the amount the employee has taken individually and the 12 weeks for FMLA leave for their own or their spouse's serious health condition in the 12-month entitlement periods.
(c) Leave Taken by Instructional Employees Near the End of an Academic Term
If a leave taken by an instructional employee for any reason begins more than five (5) weeks before the end of an academic term, the Board may require that instructional employee to continue the leave until the end of the term if the leave will last at least three (3) weeks and the instructional employee would return to work during the three-week period before the end of the term.
If the instructional employee begins a leave during the five-week period preceding the end of an academic term for a reason other than the instructional employee's own serious health condition, the Board may require the instructional employee to continue taking leave until the end of the term if the leave will last more than two (2) weeks and the instructional employee would return to work during the two-week period before the end of the term.
If the instructional employee begins a leave during the three-week period preceding the end of an academic term for a reason other than the instructional employee's own serious health condition, the Board may require the instructional employee to continue taking leave until the end of the term if the leave will last more than five (5) working days.
Requests for Leave
Scheduling Planned Medical Treatment
When planning medical treatment for foreseeable FMLA leave, an employee must consult with the HR Department and make a reasonable effort to schedule the treatment so as not to disrupt unduly the Board’s operations, subject to the approval of the health care provider. Similarly, if an employee needs leave intermittently or on a reduced leave schedule for planned medical treatment, the employee must make a reasonable effort to schedule the treatment so as not to disrupt unduly the Board’s operations. Ordinarily, the employee should consult with the HR Department prior to scheduling the treatment in order to work out a treatment schedule that best suits the needs of the Board and the employee. The Board and the employee shall attempt to work out a schedule for leave that meets the employee’s needs without unduly disrupting the Board’s operations, subject to the approval of the health care provider as to any modification of the treatment schedule.
For leaves taken for any FMLA-qualifying reason, an employee must submit a completed certification form supporting the need for leave. The appropriate form will be provided to the employee. The employee must submit a complete and sufficient certification form as required within fifteen (15) calendar days of receiving the request for the completed certification. If it is not practicable for the employee to provide the completed form by the due date despite the employee’s diligent, good faith efforts, the employee must inform the HR Department of the reason(s) for delay and what efforts the employee undertook to obtain the required certification. FMLA-protected leave may be delayed or denied if the employee does not provide a complete and sufficient certification as required. Depending on the reason for leave, an employee may be required to submit medical certification from the employee’s health care provider, medical certification the employee’s family member’s health care provider, and/or other documentation (e.g., to establish a family relationship, military active duty orders, etc.). In certain circumstances and under certain conditions, employees may also be required to obtain second or third medical opinions and/or recertifications, in accordance with applicable law.
The Board may require medical recertification on a reasonable basis, including under the following circumstances:
(ii) the circumstances described by the previous certification have changed significantly (e.g. the duration or frequency of the absence, the nature or severity of the illness, medical complications); or
(iii) whenever the school district receives information that casts doubt upon the employee’s stated reason for the absence or the continuing validity of the certification.
In connection with the Board’s request for medical information, employees must be aware that the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (“GINA”) prohibits employers and other entities covered by Title II of GINA from requesting or requiring genetic information of an individual or family member of the individual, except as specifically allowed by this law. To comply with this law, the Board requests that employees not provide any genetic information when responding to a request for medical information.
Use of Paid Leave
Accrued paid personal leave and accrued paid vacation will be substituted (in that order) for any unpaid portions of family or medical leave taken for any reason. However, where the leave is for the employee's own serious health condition, accrued paid sick leave shall be substituted for unpaid portions of family or medical leave prior to the substitution of accrued paid personal and accrued paid vacation leave. The amount of unpaid family or medical leave entitlement is reduced by the amount of paid leave that is substituted.
For leaves taken because of the employees own serious health condition and receiving Workers’ Compensation benefits, will have such leave charged against his or her FMLA entitlement.
In addition, in cases involving absences due to a Workers’ Compensation injury that also qualifies as an FMLA serious health condition, and if the employee (and the employee’s collective bargaining agent, if applicable) and the Board agree to do so, the Board will apply the employee’s available accrued paid leave in increments as a supplement to the Workers’ Compensation weekly benefit in an appropriate amount so that the employee can maintain the employee’s regular weekly income level.
Medical Insurance and Other Benefits
During approved family or medical leaves of absence, the Board will continue to pay its portion of medical insurance premiums for the period of unpaid family or medical leave. The employee must continue to pay the employee’s share of the premium, and failure to do so may result in loss of coverage. If paid leave is substituted for unpaid portions of FMLA leave, the employee will pay the employee’s share of premiums in the manner used prior to leave (e.g. payroll deduction.) If the employee does not return to work after expiration of the leave, the employee will be required to reimburse the Board for payment of medical insurance premiums during the family or medical leave, unless the employee does not return because of a serious health condition or circumstances beyond the employee's control.
During an FMLA leave, an employee shall not accrue benefits such as seniority, pension benefits or sick or vacation leave, unless otherwise required by any applicable collective bargaining agreement or Board policy. However, unused employment benefits accrued by the employee up to the day on which the leave begins will not be lost upon return to work. Leave taken under this policy does not constitute an absence under the Board's attendance policy, if any.
Except for circumstances unrelated to the taking of a family or medical leave, and unless an exception applies, an employee who returns to work following the expiration of a family or medical leave is entitled to return to the job such employee held prior to the leave or to an equivalent position with equivalent pay and benefits.
Questions regarding family or medical leave may be directed to the Superintendent or designee. An employee may file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor or may bring a private lawsuit against an employer. FMLA does not affect any federal or state law prohibiting discrimination, or supersede any state or local law or collective bargaining agreement that provides greater family or medical leave rights.
Connecticut General Statutes:
Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-51rr Family and medical leave benefits for employees of political subdivisions
Regs. Conn. State Agencies 31-51rr-1, et seq.
United States Code:
Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, 29 U.S.C. Section 2601 et seq., as amended
29 CFR Part 825.100 et seq.
Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008, 42 USC 2000ff et seq.
29 CFR 1635.1 et seq.