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FMLA & Other Leaves of Absences

Purpose of Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

Both the Federal and Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave Acts (FMLA) are leaves of absence that allow employees to balance their work and family lives by taking reasonable unpaid time off of work for their own serious health condition; the birth, adoption, or placement of a child; the serious health condition of a child, spouse, parent, domestic partner or parent of a domestic partner; and for reasons related to the Armed Forces.  For information regarding MPS FMLA Policy, please see the MPS Employee Handbook.

MPS has recently contracted with CareWorks Absence Management to process FMLA leaves.  Employees who want to take a FMLA leave must now contact CareWorks at 1-844-263-3120 to obtain approval.  (Employees are still required to comply with MPS call-in procedures).  For details regarding the new procedures when taking an FMLA leave, please view the Employee's Guide to Reporting a Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Claim.

Other Leaves of Absence

Non-FMLA absences are still processed by the Employee Rights Administration Department (ERAD).  Employees may be approved for non-FMLA leaves of absences (as applicable) under the rules of the MPS Employee Handbook:

  • Sick Leave (personal illness)
  • Personal Leave (non-FMLA)
  • Sick Leave (family illness)
  • Military Leave
  • Miscellaneous Leave
  • Sabbatical Leave
How much leave am I entitled to under FMLA?

If you are an "eligible" employee, you are entitled to 12 weeks of leave for certain family and medical reasons during a 12-month period.

How is the 12-month period calculated under FMLA?

Employers may select one of four options for determining the 12-month period: the calendar year; any fixed 12-month "leave year" such as a fiscal year, a year required by State law, or a year starting on the employee's "anniversary" date; the 12-month period measured forward from the date any employee's first FMLA leave begins; or a "rolling" 12-month period measured backward from the date an employee uses FMLA leave.

Does the law guarantee paid time off?

No. The FMLA only requires unpaid leave. However, the law permits an employee to elect, or the employer to require the employee, to use accrued paid leave, such as vacation or sick leave, for some or all of the FMLA leave period. When paid leave is substituted for unpaid FMLA leave, it may be counted against the 12-week FMLA leave entitlement if the employee is properly notified of the designation when the leave begins.

Does workers' compensation leave count against an employee's FMLA leave entitlement?

It can. FMLA leave and workers' compensation leave can run together, provided the reason for the absence is due to a qualifying serious illness or injury and the employer properly notifies the employee in writing that the leave will be counted as FMLA leave.

Can the employer count leave taken due to pregnancy complications against the 12 weeks of FMLA leave for the birth and care of my child?

Yes. An eligible employee is entitled to a total of 12 weeks of FMLA leave in a 12-month period. If the employee has to use some of that leave for another reason, including a difficult pregnancy, it may be counted as part of the 12-week FMLA leave entitlement.

Can the employer count time on maternity leave or pregnancy disability leave as FMLA leave?

Yes. Pregnancy disability leave or maternity leave for the birth of a child would be considered qualifying FMLA leave for a serious health condition and may be counted in the 12 weeks of leave so long as the employer properly notifies the employee in writing of the designation.

Who is considered an immediate "family member" for purposes of taking FMLA leave?

An employee's spouse, children (son or daughter), and parents are immediate family members for purposes of FMLA. The term "parent" does not include a parent "in-law." The terms son or daughter do not include individuals age 18 or over unless they are "incapable of self-care" because of a mental or physical disability that limits one or more of the "major life activities" as those terms are defined in regulations issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).

May I take FMLA leave for visits to a therapist, if my doctor prescribes the therapy?

Yes. FMLA permits you to take leave to receive "continuing treatment by a health care provider," which can include recurring absences for therapy treatments such as those ordered by a doctor for physical therapy after a hospital stay, or for treatment of severe arthritis.

Which employees are eligible to take FMLA leave?

Employees are eligible to take FMLA leave if they have worked for their employer for at least 12 months, and have worked for at least 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months, and work at a location where at least 50 employees are employed by the employer within 75 miles.

Do the 12 months of service with the employer have to be continuous or consecutive?

No. The 12 months do not have to be continuous or consecutive; all time worked for the employer is counted.

Do the 1,250 hours include paid leave time or other absences from work?

No. The 1,250 hours include only those hours actually worked for the employer. Paid leave and unpaid leave, including FMLA leave, are not included.

How do I determine if I have worked 1,250 hours in a 12-month period?

Your individual record of hours worked would be used to determine whether 1,250 hours had been worked in the 12 months prior to the commencement of FMLA leave. As a rule of thumb, the following may be helpful for estimating whether this test for eligibility has been met:

24 hours worked in each of the 52 weeks of the year; or

over 104 hours worked in each of the 12 months of the year; or

40 hours worked per week for more than 31 weeks (over seven months) of the year.

Can my employer require me to return to work before I exhaust my leave?

Subject to certain limitations, your employer may deny the continuation of FMLA leave due to a serious health condition if you fail to fulfill any obligations to provide supporting medical certification. The employer may not, however, require you to return to work early by offering you a light duty assignment.

Can my employer refuse to grant me FMLA leave?

If you are an "eligible" employee who has met FMLA's notice and certification requirements (and you have not exhausted your FMLA leave entitlement for the year), you may not be denied FMLA leave.

Will I lose my job if I take FMLA leave?

Generally, no. It is unlawful for any employer to interfere with or restrain or deny the exercise of any right provided under this law. Employers cannot use the taking of FMLA leave as a negative factor in employment actions, such as hiring, promotions or disciplinary actions; nor can FMLA leave be counted under "no fault" attendance policies. Under limited circumstances, an employer may deny reinstatement to work – but not the use of FMLA leave – to certain highly-paid, salaried ("key") employees.

Are there other circumstances in which my employer can deny me FMLA leave or reinstatement to my job?

In addition to denying reinstatement in certain circumstances to "key" employees, employers are not required to continue FMLA benefits or reinstate employees who would have been laid off or otherwise had their employment terminated had they continued to work during the FMLA leave period as, for example, due to a general layoff;

Employees who give unequivocal notice that they do not intend to return to work lose their entitlement to FMLA leave;

Employees who are unable to return to work and have exhausted their 12 weeks of FMLA leave in the designated "12 month period" no longer have FMLA protections of leave or job restoration;

Under certain circumstances, employers who advise employees experiencing a serious health condition that they will require a medical certificate of fitness for duty to return to work may deny reinstatement to an employee who fails to provide the certification, or may delay reinstatement until the certification is submitted.

Can my employer fire me for complaining about a violation of FMLA?

No. Nor can the employer take any other adverse employment action on this basis. It is unlawful for any employer to discharge or otherwise discriminate against an employee for opposing a practice made unlawful under FMLA.

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