Have you ever used FMLA?

What is the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)? FMLA is a type of protected leave that allows eligible employees to take up to 12 work weeks of a leave of your choice during any 12-month period to attend to the serious health condition of the employee, his or her parent, spouse or child, or for pregnancy or care of a newborn child, for adoption or foster care of a child and two types of military family leave; qualifying exigency leave and military caregiver leave.

FMLA is a Federal law that is administered by the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor. The Postal Service is required to abide by FMLA law, and has incorporated its requirements into the Employee and Labor Relations Manual (ELM) and the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the APWU and USPS.

To be eligible for FMLA leave, an employee must have been employed by the Postal Service at least 12 months, and worked at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months. Eligible employees may use up to 26 workweeks in a single 12-month period for military caregiver leave. A “single 12-month period” begins with the first day of leave; it is not the same as a “leave year.” Military caregiver leave may be combined with FMLA leave up to a maximum of 26 workweeks of leave in a single 12-month period.

• If the leave qualifies for both military caregiver leave and FMLA leave, the USPS must designate it as military caregiver leave first.

If the leave qualifies for both, the USPS cannot count it against both the 26-week military caregiver leave and the 12-week FMLA leave for other FMLA-qualifying reasons, except that, as explained above, a maximum of 26 workweeks of combined leave may be taken in any 12-month period.

How Can Leave Be Taken?

The leave can be taken in a single block of time.
The leave can be taken in multiple, smaller blocks of time if medically necessary. (This is
Known as “intermittent leave.”)

The leave can be taken on a part-time basis if medically necessary.

-Employees must schedule intermittent leave at a time that minimizes the disruption to the employer, where possible.

-Unused leave cannot be carried over into the next leave period or 12-month period.

What Constitutes a

‘Serious Health Condition?’

“Serious health condition” means illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves any of the following:

Pregnancy (includes prenatal medical appointments, incapacity due to morning sickness, and medically-required bed rest). If the employee is unable to report to work because of morning sickness, the leave can be covered even though she is not treated by doctor during absence.
Overnight stay in a hospital or other medical care facility.
Incapacity (unable to work or attend school) for more than 3 consecutive days
AND two or more treatments by health care provider within 30 days of first day of incapacity

OR One treatment by health care provider and follow-up care such as prescription medication.

– First (or only) treatment must be within 7 days of the first day of incapacity.

– Chronic condition that requires treatment at least twice a year, continues over extended period of time, and causes occasional periods of incapacitation. Employees who are unable to report to work because of a chronic condition may be covered even if they are not treated by a doctor during their absence.

Period of incapacity that is permanent or long-term due to a condition for which treatment may not be effective; person must be under continuing supervision of health care provider, but not necessarily under active treatment.
Period of absence to receive multiple treatments (and period of recovery afterward) for restorative surgery after an accident or injury or for a condition that would likely result in incapacity of more than 3 consecutive days if not treat

Procedure for Requesting FMLA Leave

Employees must give the USPS notice
-30 days’ advance notice if you know you will need time in advance (pregnancy, surgery, etc.).

-If you can’t give 30 days’ notice, you must give as much notice as soon as possible.

If the need for leave is unforeseeable, you must use the usual notice and call-in procedures unless you are unable to do so.

What Documentation is Required?

For qualifying exigency leave, the USPS has the right to require documentation of the need for leave.
For FMLA leave, the USPS has the right to require certification of the medical condition.
-Employees must provide enough information so that the USPS can tell the leave may be covered by the FMLA.

-The ELM requires employees to submit Form 3971 (to your supervisor) and the medical provider to submit a completed FMLA form to the FMLA Coordinator, NOT your supervisor!

-Employees and their doctors are not required to complete any specific form, but per the ELM, the USPS automatically sends employees DOL forms when requested. The APWU has also created FMLA forms that meet the requirements under the law (you can get them in the stewards office or at apwu.org) which we recommend you use.

You do not have to tell USPS your diagnosis, but you must provide information indicating that leave is required for an FMLA-protected condition

(Example: Doctors do not have to say on the certification form that the employee has a sinus infection; a doctor need only say that she has prescribed antibiotics and told the employee to stay home for 4 days).

-The USPS may require you to correct deficiencies in the certification; you have 7 days to do so (unless it is not practicable to do so using good faith and diligence). The USPS must send you written notice of the deficiencies.

Management’s Response to

FMLA Leave Requests

The USPS must notify you within 5 business days of your request for leave whether it is approved.
The notification must include a notice of your rights and responsibilities under FMLA.
-For FMLA Leave, the USPS cannot require recertification more frequently than every 30 days. Additionally, recertification has to at minimum match the duration of the condition in the original certification.

In short there is a lot of valuable information employees need to be aware of as to their rights under FMLA leave. If you have any questions please ask to speak with a steward.

Dave Cook

Vice President