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Family & Medical Leave Policy Summary

The Family & Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) was adopted by Congress in 1993 to balance the demands of the workplace with the needs of employees and their families. The FMLA provides for twelve (12) work weeks of unpaid leave in any 12-month period for an eligible employee to use for his/her own serious health condition or the serious health condition of a family member. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (“UNC CH” or “University”) has enacted a policy that provides a mechanism for employees to access FMLA benefits (“FMLA leave”) and for the University to administer these benefits in a manner that meets federal FMLA requirements and also satisfies the specific provisions of the FMLA policy that is prescribed for all State of North Carolina agencies by the Office of State Personnel. FMLA also includes specific provisions applicable to military families which are covered in a separate University policy called “FMLA Military Caregiver/Qualifying Exigency Leave.”

FMLA leave is triggered based on an eligible employee experiencing a qualifying medical condition as defined in the FMLA Leave Policy whether or not this leave is requested or initiated by the employee. The University is required to assess whether a FMLA qualifying condition exists when any employee is absent and/or requires modification to his/her work schedule in excess of ten (10) days in duration.

When on FMLA leave, the employee may concurrently use paid leave, leave without pay, or donated voluntary shared leave (for approved recipients only) for absences from work due to childbirth, adoption or foster care placement, or a serious health condition of the employee or the employee’s spouse, child or parent. The employee’s job and benefits are protected while an employee takes FMLA leave regardless of whether FMLA is taken as paid or unpaid leave. However, this job protection does not extend to a circumstance where the employee’s position would have otherwise been ended or modified entirely unrelated to the use of FMLA leave or the presence of a qualifying medical condition. Any use of paid or unpaid leave for an approved FMLA leave will run concurrently with FMLA and does not extend the 12-week FMLA leave period.

Eligibility Requirements
(1) Employment

An employee is eligible for FMLA leave if:

  • The employee’s appointment is half-time or more, and is either an SPA permanent, probationary, trainee, or time-limited position or is an EPA permanent position (faculty or non-faculty), AND
  • The employee has at least 12 months of service with the State (may be a combination of temporary and permanent status service), AND
  • The employee has been in pay status at least 1040 hours (half-time) during the previous 12 months.

Special Circumstances: A request for up to 12 weeks of leave without pay for a permanent employee who does not meet the eligibility requirements for FMLA Leave must be approved by department management if the purpose of the absence is for the birth or adoption of a child or to be at home with the child during the first 12 months of life or adoption. However, the continued health care contribution benefit as described in this policy would not be available for this situation.

Temporary employees generally are not eligible for FMLA leave. However if a temporary employee has 12 months of cumulative service and has been employed for at least 1250 hours during the previous 12-month period, the employee is eligible to take leave (without pay) under this policy.

Student employees are not eligible for Family & Medical Leave.

(2) Eligible Conditions:

An eligible employee must use FMLA Leave for any of the following reasons:

  • The birth of a child and to care for the child following birth, so long as the leave is taken within 12 months of the birth of the child.
  • To care for a child placed with an employee for adoption or foster care, so long as the leave is taken within 12 months of the placement.
  • To care for an employee’s child, spouse or parent, where that child, spouse or parent has a serious health condition.
  • Because an employee has a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his/her position.
  • When an employee is out of work but has not given notice of the need for FMLA leave, the department shall, after a period of 10 workdays, request that the employee provide sufficient information so the Medical Leave Coordinator in Benefits Services can establish whether the leave is for a FMLA-qualifying reason. This requirement does not preclude the department from requesting the information sooner (e.g. such as when the employee requests an extended leave.)

All periods of paid leave or leave without pay used for one (or more) of the above reasons will count towards the 12 work weeks to which the employee is entitled under FMLA.

Employee Responsibilities

If an eligible employee is absent from work for 10 or more workdays due to a FMLA qualifying condition, the employee must (FMLA policy indicates leave should be requested at least 30 days in advance when applicable):

    1.) Complete the “Medical Leave Request Form” and submit it to his/her supervisor at least 30 days in advance of planned medical treatment or birth/adoption of a child. When advanced notification is not possible, the employee should submit his/her paperwork as soon as possible.

    2.) Have his/her treating physician complete the applicable “Medical Certification Form” if the leave request is based on his/her serious health condition, or the serious health condition of an immediate family member.

    3.) Make a reasonable effort to schedule treatment so as not to disrupt the operations of his/her department.

    4.) Report to his/her supervisor or HR Facilitator at reasonable intervals with a status and intent to return.

    5.) Notify his/her supervisor prior to the expiration of the leave if he/she will not return to work.

    6.) Prior to his/her return to work (for the employee’s own personal illness), have his/her treating physician complete the “Medical Leave Return to Work Form” indicating that he/she is released to return to work.

Supervisor/Department Responsibilities

If an eligible employee is absent from work due to his/her serious health condition, the supervisor or HR Facilitator must:

    1.) Provide the employee with a Medical Leave Request Form under the following circumstances:

    a) The employee has been absent from work for ten or more work days;

    b) The employee has indicated that he/she is or was hospitalized related to an injury or illness;

    c) The employee has provided information that he/she is or will be absent from work due to his/her own health condition or that of a family member; or

    d) The supervisor has information that the employee suffers from a chronic condition and has been or will be absent from work due to that condition.

    2.) The supervisor should review and complete Section V of Medical Leave Request Form acknowledging that the request has been made. All forms should then be immediately forwarded to the Medical Leave Coordinator in Benefits Services, CB#1045.

    3.) Immediately notify the Medical Leave Coordinator in Benefits Services if the terms of the employee’s leave or pattern of absences change.

    4.) Ensure all FMLA leave taken by the employee is tracked and recorded in the TIM System, including intermittent leave.

    5.) Ensure that the employee submits a Medical Leave Return to Work Form at the conclusion of his/her authorized leave period if the leave was due to the employee’s own serious health condition, and forward this document to the Medical Leave Coordinator in Benefits Services.

    6.) Contact the Medical Leave Coordinator in Benefits Services with any questions or issues that involve the FMLA leave.

Benefits Services Responsibilities

When an eligible employee requests FMLA leave, or when the Medical Leave Coordinator in Benefit Services knows that an employee’s leave may be for an FMLA-qualifying reason, the employee must be notified of his/her eligibility to take FMLA leave, absent extenuating circumstances. The employee’s eligibility is determined (and notice must be provided) at the start of the first instance of leave for each FMLA-qualifying reason in the applicable 12-month period. All FMLA absences for the same qualifying reason are considered a single leave and employee eligibility as to that reason for leave does not change during the applicable 12-month period.

If the employee is not eligible for FMLA leave, the notice must state at least one reason why the employee is not eligible.

Benefits Services will provide written notice detailing the specific expectations and obligations of the employee and explain any consequences of a failure to meet these obligations. Such specific notice will include, as appropriate:

          1. That the leave will be designated and counted against the employee’s annual FMLA leave entitlement;
          2. The requirements for the employee to furnish appropriate medical certifications;
          3. The employee’s right to concurrently use paid leave;
          4. The requirement for the employee to make any premium payments to maintain health benefits if the FMLA leave is unpaid and the arrangements for making such payments;
          5. The employee’s rights to maintenance of benefits during the FMLA leave and restoration to the same or an equivalent job upon return from the FMLA leave; and
          6. The employee’s potential liability for payment of health insurance premiums paid by the University during the employee’s unpaid FMLA leave if the employee fails to return to work after taking FMLA leave.

As mentioned above, the Family and Medical Leave Act provides for 12 work weeks of unpaid leave. To remain in a paid status, an eligible employee can concurrently use his/her accrued leave along with his/her FMLA leave entitlement. When an employee is on authorized FMLA leave, he/she can use leave in the following manner:

If leave is for:

Then, the employee :

Birth (applies to both parents) and child care after birth

may choose to exhaust all or any portion of sick leave, and/or vacation/bonus leave, comp time or go on leave without pay during the period of disability. Shared leave may be used only during the period of disability only if all of leave has been exhausted.

Only vacation/bonus leave or leave without pay may be used before and after the period of disability.


may choose to exhaust all or any portion of vacation/bonus leave, a maximum of 30 days’ sick leave (see Sick Leave Policy), or go on leave without pay.

Foster Care

may choose to exhaust all or any portion of vacation/bonus leave or go on leave without pay.

Serious Health Condition of Child, Spouse, Parent

may choose to exhaust all or any portion of sick leave and/or vacation/bonus leave, or go on leave without pay. Shared leave may be used only after all other leave has been exhausted.

Employee’s Serious Health Condition

does not have the option of taking leave without pay if he/she has any available sick leave; however, the employee may use vacation/bonus leave in lieu of sick leave. The employee is not required to use his/her vacation/bonus prior to going on leave w/out pay. If the covered absence extends beyond the 60-day waiting period required for short-term disability, the employee may choose to exhaust the balance of his/her leave or begin drawing short-term disability benefits. Shared leave may be used only after all other leave has been exhausted.


If you have questions about your current leave balance, contact your HR Facilitator.

If you have any questions about the FMLA Leave Policy, contact your HR Facilitator or the Benefits Consultant assigned to work with your department.

If you have questions about your benefits coverage related to medical leave, contact the Benefits Consultant assigned to work with your department.

Related Subjects

Family Illness Leave

Voluntary Shared Leave

Leave Without Pay for SPA Employees

Faculty Serious Illness, Major Disability, and Parental Leave Policy

Sick Leave for SPA Employees

Determining Time Worked

FMLA – Military Caregiver/Qualifying Exigency Policy

FMLA – Military Provisions (Regulatory Excerpts)

Related Forms

Medical Leave – Request Form

Medical Leave – Medical Certification Form

Medical Leave – Shared Leave Donation Form

Medical Leave – Return to Work Form