FMLA-CFRA Leave Policy
Statement of Policy:
San Mateo County provides leave to eligible employees in accordance with the Federal Family and Medial Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) as well as the County’s other leave policies. Unless otherwise provided by this policy, “leave” under this policy shall mean leave pursuant to the FMLA and CFRA.
Eligibility for FMLA/CFRA Leave:
If you have been employed by the County of San Mateo for at least 12 months and you have worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months immediately preceding your leave, you are covered by the provisions of FMLA/CFRA. If you are an employee returning from fulfilling your National Guard or Reserve military obligation, you will be credited with the hours of service that would have been performed but for the period of such military service in determining whether you have worked the necessary 1,250 hours in accordance with the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA).
Types of Leaves that are covered under FMLA/CFRA:
FMLA/CFRA guarantees covered employees the right to take an unpaid leave for a maximum of twelve workweeks of leave in a 12-month period for any one, or more, of the following reasons:
- Pregnancy leave (covered by FMLA only);
- The birth of the employee’s son or daughter, and to care for the newborn child;
- The placement with the employee of a son or daughter for adoption or foster care, and to care for the newly placed child (covered by FMLA and CFRA);
- The employee’s own serious health condition that requires the employee’s absence from work (covered by FMLA and CFRA);
- To care for a family member as defined by FMLA and CFRA (i.e., a son or daughter, parent, spouse, or domestic partner) who suffers from a serious health condition that requires on site care or supervision by the employee (covered by FMLA and CRFA); or
- Military Family Leave (covered by FMLA)
- a) Qualifying Exigency Leave -- Eligible employees with a spouse, son, daughter, or parent on active duty (or who has been notified of a call to active duty status) in the Armed Forces, including the National Guard or Reserves, in support of a contingency operation may use their 12-week leave entitlement to address certain qualifying exigencies. Qualifying exigencies may include attending certain military events, arranging for alternative childcare, addressing certain financial and legal arrangements, attending counseling sessions, and attending post-deployment reintegration briefings.
- b) Military Caregiver Leave -- FMLA also includes a special leave entitlement that permits eligible employees to take up to 26 workweeks of leave during a single 12-month period to care for a covered servicemember. A covered servicemember is a current member of the Armed Forces, including a member of the National Guard or Reserves, who
- (i) has a serious injury or illness incurred in the line of duty on active duty that may render the servicemember medically unfit to perform his or her duties; and
- (B) for which the servicemember is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy; or is in outpatient status; or
- (ii) is on the temporary disability retired list.
A covered servicemember can also be a veteran who is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy for a serious injury or illness and who was a member of the Armed Forces, including a member of the National Guard or Reserves, at any time during the five year period preceding the date on which the veteran undergoes that medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy.
How does FMLA/CFRA define a serious health condition?
The law defines serious health condition as an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves:
- Inpatient treatment (i.e., 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), or
- “Continuing Treatment by a Health Care Provider.” Such treatment includes one or more of the following:
- A period of incapacity for more than three consecutive calendar days provided that the condition also involved: (i) at least two visits to a health care provider within 30 days of the first day of incapacity, or (ii) one visit and a regimen of continuing treatment;
- Any period of incapacity due to pregnancy or for prenatal care. This entitles employee to FMLA leave, but not CFRA leave. Under California law, an employee disabled by pregnancy is entitled to pregnancy disability leave;
- Any period of incapacity or treatment for such incapacity due to a chronic serious health condition (i.e., requires periodic visits for treatment by a health care provider or nurse; continues over an extended period of time; and may cause episodic incapacity);
- A period of incapacity which is permanent or long-term (i.e., requiring the continuing supervision, but not necessarily the active treatment by, a health care provider); or
- Conditions requiring multiple treatments
Other conditions may meet the definition of continuing treatment. Additionally, if you feel your condition is permanent and may qualify for accommodations under ADA/DFEH, please contact San Mateo County’s ADA Manager at (650) 363-4738.
Can the County request verification or certification from your doctor for an FMLA/CFRA leave request?
Employees must provide sufficient information to allow the County to determine if the leave qualifies for FMLA/CFRA protection, and the anticipated timing and duration of the leave. Sufficient information may include:
- evidence of the date on which the serious health condition started;
- evidence that the employee is unable to perform the job functions;
- evidence that the covered family member is unable to perform daily activities;
- evidence of the need for hospitalization or continuing treatment by a health care provider; and/or
- evidence on the circumstances supporting the need for military leave
Employees must also inform the County if the requested leave is for a reason for which FMLA/CFRA leave was previously taken or certified. Employees may also be required to provide a certification and periodic recertification supporting the need for leave.
How does the County count the “12 month period” that eligible employees can take FMLA/CFRA leave?
Covered employees can take 12 weeks (480 hours) of FMLA/CFRA leave each calendar year. The 12-week period, or 480 hours, is the total amount of leave available for each calendar year, regardless of the number of qualifying events/conditions.
How does the County’s Leave of Absence Policy integrate with FMLA/CFRA Leave?
In most cases, the County’s Medical Leave of Absence policy is more generous, allowing employees to request up to a one-year unpaid leave of absence.
Must the FMLA/CFRA Leave be taken all at once (12 weeks) or can it be taken in increments/intermittently (480 hours)?
- FMLA/CFRA Leave does not have to be taken all at once. However, the employee must provide 30 days advance notice of the need to take FMLA/CFRA leave, when the need is foreseeable.
- An employee can take the FMLA/CFRA leave on an intermittent basis due to an “unpredictable” serious health condition. For intermittent leave, the employee must provide as much advanced notice as practicable and generally must comply with the call-in procedures for the employee’s department.
- Minimum leave duration is two weeks for CFRA-only baby bonding. A request for leave of less than 2 weeks’ duration will be granted on any two occasions.
Are reduced work schedules covered under FMLA/CFRA?
- Reduced work schedules are often permitted for serious health conditions under FMLA/CFRA.
What basic rights are provided to employees under a FMLA/CFRA Leave?
- Health Premium Payment
The County must maintain the employee’s coverage under any group health plan on the same basis as usually provided. For permanent and probationary employees, the County is responsible for continuing its contribution to the employee’s health premium up to the 12-week maximum period. Employees must continue to make their own contributions for health coverage.
- Reinstatement Rights
Current policy requires the County to return permanent employees to the same or equivalent position. Extra Help employees who qualify for FMLA/CFRA leave and who take such leave are entitled to return to the same or equivalent position held prior to the leave.
Can the County deny a request for FMLA/CFRA leave?
In most cases, if the employee meets all criteria for FMLA/CFRA Leave, including advance notice and certification requirements described above, the leave cannot be denied.
Can the County require an employee to use specific sources of accrued leave (e.g. sick time, vacation, holiday, etc.) in conjunction with FMLA/CFRA Leave?
FMLA/CFRA is not a paid leave. Employees can use sick, vacation, holiday, etc., to remain in a full pay status.
How does an employee file for FMLA/CFRA Leave?
- An employee must complete the Leaves of Absence Request Form along with supporting medical documentation.
- If the employee is requesting “intermittent leave,” the health care provider must also complete the County’s Medical Certification Form for FMLA/CFRA Intermittent Leaves (formerly known as Appendix B).
- Leaves of Absence forms are located at the end of this policy or employees can obtain the forms from their payroll specialist. Additionally, the forms can be printed directly from San Mateo County’s Intranet, under Policies & Procedures, Employee Relations Handbook, in the Leave of Absence section.
What enforcement/appeal rights does an employee have?
An employee who believes his/her rights have been violated can report the matter to San Mateo County’s EEO Manager at (650) 363-4340.
The Department of Labor is authorized to investigate and resolve complaints of violation.
An eligible employee may bring a civil action for violations after properly exhausting any applicable administrative remedies such as filing a claim with the Board of Supervisors.