Non-FMLA Medical and Personal Leave of Absence
VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY AND MEDICAL CENTER HUMAN RESOURCES POLICIES AND PROCEDURES
SUBJECT: Non-FMLA Medical and Personal Leave of Absence
EFFECTIVE DATE: March 1, 1999 | Revised June 18, 2012; December 6, 2012
The policy of Vanderbilt University is to consider an employee’s request for a medical or personal leave of absence (where the leave does not qualify for protection under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in accordance with guidelines set forth below. This policy generally provides up to six (6) months of leave in any “rolling” 12-month period unless otherwise required by law, including the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA). All leaves (except military leave provided under USERRA) of absence are concurrent and count towards the six (6) months.
I. Non-FMLA Medical Leave of Absence
Leave within First Year of Employment
An employee with a serious medical condition as defined under the FMLA, who is in his or her first year of employment and has completed the initial orientation period, may request a leave of absence for a self-qualifying medical event. This leave will be considered for employees that need to be out of work for five (5) consecutive days. Employees may take leave up to six (6) weeks within their first 12 months of service at Vanderbilt University. Intermittent leave under Non-FMLA is not permitted unless such leave has been approved as a reasonable disability related accommodation pursuant to the ADAAA. Requests for disability related accommodations should be made to the Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action, and Disability Services Department.
Leave after First Twelve Months of Employment
An employee with a serious medical condition as defined under the FMLA who does not meet the 1,250 hour requirement or has exhausted leave available under the FMLA may request a leave of absence for a self-qualifying medical event. Time away from work will generally not exceed six (6) months in a “rolling” 12-month period. Intermittent leave under Non-FMLA is not permitted unless such leave has been approved as a reasonable disability related accommodation pursuant to the ADAAA. Requests for disability related accommodations should be made to the Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action, and Disability Services Department.
A. Requesting a Non-FMLA Medical Leave
The employee is expected to provide at least 30 days' notice when requesting leave. When an employee becomes aware of a need for leave less than 30 days in advance, the employee must provide notice of the need for the leave either the same day, the next business day, or as soon as reasonably practicable. Leave requests that are not submitted according to policy and as soon as practicable will be denied.
B. Certifications for Non-FMLA Medical Leave
Vanderbilt University will require certification for the employee’s serious health condition. The Occupational Health Clinic (OHC) will receive all medical certifications. The employee must respond to the request for certification within 15 calendar days of the notice of eligibility. Failure to comply with the above mentioned requirements will result in denial of leave or reinstatement from leave, in which case the employee’s leave of absence would be unauthorized, subjecting the employee to discipline up to and including employment termination.
If an incomplete medical certification is received, the Occupational Health Clinic will provide the employee with the opportunity to either have the health care provider correct the certification or provide a written release for Occupational Health to contact the health care provider directly. The employee will have seven (7) calendar days to resolve any deficiencies in the medical certification. If, after seven (7) calendar days the identified deficiencies have not been resolved, the request for leave will be denied.
C. Pay Status While on Non-FMLA Medical Leave
An employee who is taking Non-FMLA Medical Leave must use all accrued leave prior to being placed in an unpaid leave status. Accrued time should be used in the following order: sick, personal, vacation, and unused holiday time or short-term disability benefits.
Sick, vacation, and holiday time accruals cease when the employee moves to an unpaid status. Accruals for sick, vacation, and holiday time restart upon the employee’s return to paid status. Personal days continue to accrue regardless of whether the employee is in a paid or unpaid status (except in cases where the employee is on Long-Term Disability). (Please refer to the Holiday and Personal Days policy for additional information.)
If an employee’s leave may extend six (6) months or longer, they may be eligible to apply for Long-Term Disability (LTD) benefits. Employees who anticipate being on medical leave longer than six (6) months should contact the Benefits Office in the Human Resources department as soon as possible for more information.
D. Job Restoration from Non-FMLA Medical Leave
Employees who take a non-FMLA Medical Leave do not have job restoration rights. However, Vanderbilt University will generally reinstate the employee to the same position or a position with equivalent status, pay, benefits and other employment terms upon the employee’s return before or at the end of the approved leave period. In the event Vanderbilt University will not be able to restore the employee, the employee will receive written notice from Human Resources.
E. Notice Requirements for Returning from Non-FMLA Medical Leave
Employees are expected to be able to return to work by the end of their approved leave. Prior to returning from leave for a personal health condition, the employee must secure a release from his or her healthcare provider confirming the release to return to work to perform regular duties or set forth any restrictions. The Request to Return from Medical Leave of Absence Form should be completed and submitted to the employee’s supervisor at least two (2) days in advance of the expected date of return reflected on the Request for Leave form. After the supervisor has reviewed the form, it should be forwarded to Occupational Health where it will be retained.
If the employee is released to return to work with restrictions, the department in consultation with Human Resources will refer the employee to the Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action, and Disability Services (EAD) to determine whether the restriction can be reasonably accommodated. Medical restrictions are those that prevent the employee from performing his or her regular duties at the end of the approved leave due to a continuing medical condition.
If an employee on leave for personal medical reasons is released to return to work sooner than the expected return date listed on the Leave Request, the employee must notify their supervisor within two (2) business days of receiving the release.
Unable to Return from Non-FMLA Medical Leave
If the employee is not medically released to return to work at the end of his or her leave and the employee has not been granted any additional leave, employment ends as “unable to return from leave” effective the last day of the approved leave, unless a continuation of leave has been granted as an accommodation under the ADAAA, or for other reasons.
Failure to Return from Non-FMLA Medical Leave
Any employee who fails to return to work as scheduled after leave may be subject to dismissal from employment. Employees who exceed their leave without extension(s) of their leave approved under appropriate leave provisions, may be subject to termination of employment pursuant to the Attendance and Punctuality Policy.
II. Personal Leave of Absence
An eligible employee who has completed at least 12 months of service and who is in good standing (has not received a Performance and Accountability and Commitment Plan or Progressive Discipline Action within the previous six (6) months) may request personal time off for reasons such as educational opportunities, to care for a family member1 or to spend time with a new baby or child placed in the home within the first 12 months of service in situations not covered by the FMLA or the Tennessee Maternity Leave Act (TMLA). Such leave approval or denial is at the discretion of the department and Human Resources. Personal leaves are not granted for engaging in employment outside of Vanderbilt, pursuing an independent business venture or as additional leave after Non-FMLA Medical Leave. Intermittent leave under Personal Leave is not permitted.
A. Pay Status While on Personal Leave
An employee who is taking Personal Leave must use all accrued leave prior to being eligible for unpaid leave. Accrued time should be used in the following order: vacation, personal and holiday time.
Note: When a personal leave is granted to care for a family member covered under the sick time policy, sick accruals should be exhausted before any other accrued leave.
Sick, vacation, and holiday time accruals cease when the employee moves to an unpaid status. Accruals for sick, vacation, and holiday time restart upon the employee’s return to paid status. Personal days continue to accrue regardless of whether the employee is in a paid or unpaid status (expect in cases where the employee is on Long Term Disability). (Please refer to the Holiday and Personal Days policy for additional information).
B. Job Restoration from Personal Leave
Employees who take a Personal Leave do not have job restoration rights. However, Vanderbilt University will generally reinstate employees to the same position or position with equivalent status, pay, benefits and other employment terms if they return at the end of the agreed upon duration of their leave. If additional time is needed beyond the original request, the department will make a determination on the need for additional leave. In the event Vanderbilt University will not be able to restore the employee at the end of their leave, the employee will receive written notice.
C. Notice Requirements for Returning from Personal Leave
Employees are expected to be able to return to work by the end of their approved leave. If an employee on leave plans to return to work sooner than the expected return date listed on the Leave Request, the employee must notify his or her supervisor within two (2) business days of receiving the release.
Failure to Return from Personal Leave
Any employee who fails to return to work as scheduled after leave may be subject to dismissal from employment. Employees who exceed their leave without extension(s) of their leave approved under appropriate leave provisions, may be subject to dismissal from employment and applicable attendance policies.
III. Employee Benefits While on Leave
While an employee is on leave, Vanderbilt University will continue the employee's health benefits during the leave period at the same level and under the same conditions as if the employee had continued to work as long as the employee pays a portion of the health care premium.
While on paid leave, the employer will continue to make payroll deductions to collect the employee's share of the premium.
While on unpaid leave, the employee must continue to make this payment, either in person or by mail. The payment must be received in the Direct Billing Department, PMB 407718, 2301 Vanderbilt Place, Nashville, TN 37240-7718 by the first day of every month. If an employee does not pay the required contributions, coverage may be canceled. However, the employee will be given 15 days’ notice before coverage is canceled.
If the employee chooses not to return to work for reasons other than a continued serious health condition of the employee or the employee's family member or a circumstance beyond the employee's control, Vanderbilt University may require the employee to reimburse Vanderbilt University the amount it paid for the employee's health insurance premium during the leave period.
If the employee contributes to a life insurance or disability plan, Vanderbilt University will continue making payroll deductions while the employee is on paid leave. While the employee is on unpaid leave, the employee may request continuation of such benefits and pay their portion of the premiums. If the employee does not continue these payments, Vanderbilt University may discontinue coverage during the leave.
IV. Coordination with Other Policies
A. Attendance and Non-FMLA Medical/Personal Leave
Absences covered under Non-FMLA Medical or Personal Leave will not be counted as occurrences of absenteeism under Vanderbilt University’s attendance policy. However, employees may be subject to discipline up to an including employment termination if, during their leave, they engage in activities inconsistent with the stated purpose for the leave. For example, employees may be prohibited from engaging in other similar employment during leave. Misrepresentations or any act of dishonesty related to these leave will also be grounds for discipline, up to and including employment termination.
B. Worker's Compensation and Non-FMLA Medical/Personal Leave
Non-FMLA Medical Leave and Worker’s Compensation can run concurrently. Non-FMLA Medical Leave requests for work injuries involving Workers’ Compensation may follow a different process with respect to the verification or clarification of the medical certification. Please see the Worker’s Compensation Policy for more information on benefits and pay status while on leave.
1 Family member is defined as an employee’s spouse, same-sex domestic partner, parent or child as defined by the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). It also includes an employee’s same-sex domestic partner or the child of a domestic partner.
This policy is intended as a guideline to assist in the consistent application of University policies and programs for staff. The policy does not create a contract, implied or expressed, with Vanderbilt staff members, who are employees at will; this status cannot be modified except by authorized University officers. Vanderbilt reserves the right to modify this policy in whole or in part, at any time, at the discretion of the University.
Approved by Traci K. Nordberg, Chief Human Resources Officer and Associate Vice Chancellor
Approved by Jerry Fife, Vice Chancellor for Administration
Approved by Jeffrey Balser, M.D., Ph.D., Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs