Head tag

Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

Introduction and History

  • The FMLA was created in 1993 to promote family security by helping people balance the demands of the workplace with personal and family needs.
  • FMLA also ensures that employees can take time off, with benefits, when their disabilities or serious illnesses prevent them from working.

FMLA provides eligible employees with up to 12 work-weeks of unpaid leave in a 12 month period for:

  • Birth or placement of a child.
  • Immediate family member’s serious condition.
  • Employee’s own serious health condition. Qualifying exigency where employee’s immediate family member is a covered military member on active duty.
  • Employees are eligible for up to a total of 26 workweeks in a single 12-month period to care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness.
  • Time spent in light duty does not count as FMLA.
  • New medical certification form.
  • Leave calculations for employees with varied schedules use average hours scheduled in 12 months prior to leave.
  • If employee on intermittent/reduced schedule leave for more than 6 months recertification must occur every 6 months.
  • Employer may request HCP to verify that employee is able to perform essential functions.
    Fitness for Duty examinations every 30 days for chronic serious health conditions if reasonable safety concerns exist.

An eligible employee is an employee who:

  • Has worked for NIU for at least 12 months
    • Does not need to be consecutive
    • Only employment within 7 years is counted unless the break in service is:
      • Due to an employees fulfillment of military obligations
      • Governed by a collective bargaining agreement or other written agreement
  • Has worked at least 1250 hours within the 12 months before leave begins.
    * An employee may become eligible for FMLA while on non-FMLA leave

Employees may use applicable sick leave and vacation benefits prior to assuming leave without pay.

Employee’s group health insurance and other benefits will be maintained during leave but employee remains responsible for premium contribution or payroll deduction amount.

A serious health condition means an illness, injury, impairment or physical or mental condition that involves inpatient care or continuing treatment by a health care provider (HCP).

What qualifies as inpatient care?

An overnight stay in a hospital, hospice, or residential medical care facility, including any period of incapacity or any subsequent treatment in connection with such inpatient care.

Incapacity Defined

Inability to work, attend school perform regular daily activities due to the serious health condition, treatment of or recovery from the condition.

Continuing Treatment

More than 3 consecutive, full calendar days of incapacity and any subsequent treatment or incapacity relating to that condition that involves:

  • 2 or more treatments by health care provider (HCP) within 30 days of first day of incapacity, absent extenuating circumstances
  • Treatment by HCP which results in regime of continuing treatment
  • Must see HCP in person within seven days of the first day of incapacity

Any period of incapacity due to pregnancy or for prenatal care.

Any period of incapacity or treatment for chronic serious health conditions which requires:,/p>

  • At least two periodic visits to HCP per year
  • Continues over an extended period of time and
  • May cause episodic rather than continuing incapacity

Any period of incapacity due to permanent or long-term conditions.

Any period of absence to receive multiple treatments by HCP for restorative surgery or a condition that might result in more than 3 full consecutive day period of incapacity if left untreated.

Allows for up to 12 weeks in employer’s leave year due to qualifying exigency arising out of deployment of employee’s parent, child or spouse.

  • Certification form required for exigency.
  • Applicable only to call up to duty (not enlistments)

Statutory Examples

  • Short-notice deployment limited to seven calendar days from notice
  • Military events and related activities
  • Child care and school activities
  • Financial and legal arrangements
  • Counseling
  • Rest and recuperation (limited to five days of FMLA leave per year )
  • Post-deployment activities (up to 90 days from end of deployment)
  • Additional activities (as agreed by employer and employee)

Caring for Injured or Ill Servicemember

Eligible employee is entitled to 26 workweeks of leave to care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness during a single 12 month period.

  • Single 12-month is regular calendar year regardless of employer’s method.
  • Leave may be taken for multiple family members and subsequent injuries/illnesses of same family member but only once per injury/illness.
  • Applies to children of any age, including those over 18

Employee Responsibilities

  • If FMLA need is foreseeable, the employee must provide at least 30 days advance notice.
  • If not foreseeable then must provide notice ASAP.
  • Employee previously certified for FMLA leave must make reference to need for FMLA leave when calling off.
  • Medical certification must be provided within 15 calendar days from FMLA request date.
  • Must report periodically on status and intent to return to work.
  • Must notify Human Resources immediately upon clearance to return to work or if leave is no longer required.
  • If returning with restrictions, employee must notify and provide documentation of restrictions to Human Resources.
    Return to work restrictions must be reviewed and approved by Human Resources and the employing department prior to employees return.
  • Time Reporting
  • Recognize potential FMLA leave.
  • Refer employee to Human Resources regarding FMLA policies and procedures.
  • Communicate with Human Resources on employee’s status and intention to return to work.

Need More Information?

Please call the HRS Service Center at 815-753-6000 and ask to be connected to one of our HR associates regarding the application process for a FMLA leave or email FMLA@niu.edu.


FMLA Request Form


FMLA Federal Notice