MSU Human Resources >> Time-off-leave >> Fmla >> FMLA Frequently Asked Questions


Fmla frequently asked questions

The following forms must be used to provide the required FMLA leaves notice: 

  • Notice of Eligibility, Rights and Responsibilities and Designation Notice
  • Certification of Health Care Provider for Employee's Serious Health Condition
  • Certification of Health Care Provider for Family Member's Serious Health Condition
  • Certification of Qualifying Exigency for Military Family Leave
  • Certification for Serious Injury or Illness of Covered Service member for Military Family Leave

To obtain the appropriate forms, contact MSU Human Resources at 517-353-4434 or  SolutionsCenter@hr.msu.edu .

The Family and Medical Leave Act is a United States federal law requiring covered employers to provide employees job-protected and unpaid leave for qualified medical and family reasons. 

An employee is unable to perform the functions of the position where the health care provider finds that the employee is unable to work at all or is unable to perform any one of the essential functions of the employee's position within the meaning of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). An employee who must be absent from work to receive medical treatment for a serious health condition is considered to be unable to perform the essential functions of the position during the absence for treatment. MSU will provide a statement of the essential functions of the employee's job for the health care provider to review. 

Staff employed at the University for a minimum of 12 months (may have been intermittent employment) and having worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12-month period immediately preceding the commencement of FMLA leave, may be eligible for FMLA. The Department of Labor (DOL) has revised this regulation to provide that a service break of seven years or more need not be counted in determining whether an employee has been employed for at least 12 months.

The 1,250 hours requirement is calculated using hours actually worked and does not include hours spent on holidays, vacation, sick, and personal leave, etc. However, under the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), employees called to active (or National Guard) duty are entitled, upon their return to employment, to all the benefits of employment that they would have obtained if they had been continuously employed.

An eligible MSU employee can take up to 12 weeks of leave designated as FMLA during a 12-month period (July 1 – June 30).
No. However, MSU’s union contracts require employees to first use their own sick quotas for their personal medical condition, and family sick quotas for care of a family member. After sick/family sick quotas are exhausted, vacation or personal may be substituted for pay, but not comp time. MSU’s non-union employees may be entitled to paid leave depending on the employee’s classification.
 Leave may be taken intermittently or on a reduced leave schedule under the following circumstances:
  • If leave is taken after the birth or placement of a child for adoption or foster care, an employee may take the leave intermittently or on a reduced leave schedule only if the department agrees. Needs of the employee and the department should be balanced to achieve a workable arrangement and maximum benefits for both.
  • If leave is for a serious health condition of a family member or for an employee's own serious health condition, leave may be taken intermittently or on a reduced leave schedule when medically necessary. Intermittent leave is leave taken in separate blocks of time due to a single illness or injury and may include leave periods from an hour or more to several days. Examples would include leave taken on an occasional basis for medical appointments or leave taken several days at a time spread over a period of six months, such as for chemotherapy.
A reduced leave schedule reduces an employee's usual number of working hours per workweek, or hours per workday.
Special issues concern FMLA leave entitlement for the birth or adoption of a child. The employee must conclude his or her leave within 12 months of the birth or placement. Leave taken to care for a newborn child or a newly adopted child does not require illness, but an employee may not take the leave on an intermittent or reduced leave schedule basis unless otherwise agreed upon by the department.

Days one to seven (1 - 7) (Accident Time) of a work-related disability are counted against the 12-week FMLA entitlement as long as the injury or illness is FMLA-qualifying and the employee had prior notification of the designation. Lost time after the seventh (7th) day of the work-related disability is also counted as FMLA when the employee is receiving Workers' Compensation.

Time missed for medical appointments related to a Workers' Compensation injury or illness qualifying as a serious health condition should be counted as FMLA.

Nothing in FMLA modifies or affects any federal or state law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, sex, age or disability. If an employee is a qualified individual with a disability within the meaning of the ADA, the department must make reasonable accommodations.
If you have questions pertaining to FMLA, or would like to request the necessary FMLA paperwork, please call the MSU Human Resources Solutions Center at 517-353-4434 and ask to speak to the leave advisor. Calling or setting an appointment ensures you will have enough time with the advisor to discuss all your questions.
MSU Human Resources is located at 
1407 S Harrison Rd
East Lansing, MI 48823
Email:  solutionscenter@hr.msu.edu
“Calling in sick" without providing more information will not be considered sufficient notice to trigger the university’s obligations under the Act. The university will obtain any additional information needed through informal means. An employee has an obligation to respond to MSU’s questions designed to determine whether an absence is potentially FMLA-qualifying. Failure to respond to reasonable employer inquiries regarding the leave request may result in denial of FMLA protection if MSU is unable to determine whether the leave is FMLA-qualifying.
If the leave is foreseeable, the employee must provide at least 30 days’ notice. If the leave is emergent, then the department must be notified as soon as practicable. When planning medical treatment, the employee should consult with the department, and make a reasonable effort to schedule the leave so as to minimize disruption of the department's operations, subject to the approval of the health care provider.

The department may require an employee to transfer temporarily to an available alternative position with equivalent pay and benefits or to a part-time job with the same hourly rate of pay and full-time benefits. Transfer to an alternative position may require compliance with any applicable Collective Bargaining Agreement, federal law (such as the ADA), and state law and may include altering an existing job to better accommodate the employee's need for intermittent or reduced leave.

Upon return from FMLA leave, an employee is entitled to be returned to the same position held when leave commenced, or to an equivalent position with equivalent benefits, pay and other terms and conditions of employment.

If an employee is no longer qualified for her/his position, the employee shall be given a reasonable opportunity to fulfill any requirements of the position that may have expired during the leave (e.g., license, special course, etc.). The department's obligations may be governed by the ADA if the employee is unable to perform the position duties due to a physical condition which constitutes a disability. An employee may request to be restored to a different shift, schedule, or position which better suits the employee's personal needs on return from leave subject to the department's approval.

In order to deny restoration to employment, a department must be able to show an employee would not otherwise have been employed at the time reinstatement is requested. If an employee was hired for a specific term or only to perform work on a distinct project, the department has no obligation to restore the employee if the employment term or project is over, and the department would not otherwise have continued to employ the employee. (FMLA leave will not be provided beyond an off-date or the end of a temporary appointment.) An employee who fraudulently obtains FMLA leave is not protected by FMLA's job restoration or maintenance of health or dental benefits provisions.

During any FMLA leave, MSU must maintain the employee's health and dental benefits, if enrolled, at the same level and under the same conditions as coverage would have been provided if the employee had been continuously employed during the entire leave period. MSU Human Resources will make necessary arrangements to continue this coverage. \

Except as required under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act ( COBRA ), MSU's obligation to maintain health or dental benefits ceases if and when an employee informs the department of her/his intent not to return from leave (including at the start of the leave if the department is so informed before the leave starts). It is important that departments process appropriate paperwork immediately when an employee gives notice of plans not to return from FMLA leave.

Any share of health, dental, life, or voluntary benefit plan premiums which had been paid by the employee prior to the leave must continue to be paid by the employee during the leave. MSU Human Resources will make arrangements with employees to continue premium payments once an employee is placed on an unpaid leave. In some cases, MSU may recover its share of health and dental plan premiums if the employee fails to return to work from unpaid leave for at least 30 calendar days. If the employee portion of the premium is not paid, coverage will be cancelled. Please direct all questions regarding insurance premiums to the MSU Solutions Center.

MSU is prohibited from interfering with, restraining, or denying exercise of (or attempts to exercise) any rights provided by the Act or from discharging or in any other way discriminating against any person for opposing or complaining about any unlawful practice under the Act.
Interfering with: the exercise of an employee's rights would include refusing to authorize FMLA leave, discouraging an employee from using such leave, or manipulation to avoid responsibilities under FMLA.

Discriminating against: includes requiring written notice or certification for use of paid leave if not normally required, not granting the same benefits as any other employee on a leave without pay, or using the taking of FMLA leave as a negative factor in employment actions. MSU is prohibited from inducing an employee to waive her/his rights under the Act. Individuals are protected from retaliation for opposing any practice which is unlawful under the Act. They are similarly protected if they oppose any practice which they reasonably believe to be a violation of the Act or regulations.

1. An employee can file a complaint with the U.S. Secretary of Labor; or
2. An employee can file a private lawsuit pursuant to section 107 of the FMLA.
For support staff, FMLA will be recorded using the EBS Portal. To report FMLA-qualifying absences in EBS for an employee's serious health condition, use all available contractual sick leave credits first or family sick credits for care of a family member. If the employee has verified the usage of his/her vacation and personal leave, use these amounts next. If the leave of absence is less than 10 days and all quotas have been exhausted, then FMLA unpaid time should be entered. If the employee is on leave for more than 10 days, their time will be tracked and entered by MSU Human Resources.
Departments may require an employee to provide a physician's statement to receive pay for the FMLA absence in accordance with the appropriate union contract and/or university sick leave and Family Medical Leave Act policies.

MSU Human Resources may require an employee to report periodically on her/his status and intent to return to work. This reporting requirement may not be discriminatory and must take into account all of the relevant facts and circumstances related to the employee's leave situation.
In situations where an employee discovers after beginning leave that the circumstances have changed and the amount of leave originally anticipated is no longer necessary, the employee should give reasonable notice (a minimum of two days) to the employer where early return to work is foreseeable. An employee may not be required to take more leave than necessary to address the qualifying circumstances.

As a condition of restoring an employee from FMLA leave occasioned by employee's own health condition, the employee must provide a note from the treating physician that the employee is able to resume work, and can perform the essential functions of the job. MSU Human Resources is allowed to contact the physician for clarification or authentication under the same terms as apply for the original certification. Under certain circumstances, a fitness for duty evaluation may be required prior to returning to work. When clarification of a release to return to work is determined to be necessary, an employee's return to work cannot be delayed more than two days while the inquiry is made.

 If MSU Human Resources questions the authenticity, or needs clarification, of a medical certification provided under the FMLA, it may contact the medical provider directly. No additional medical information can be requested, and the employee's permission is not needed. The employee’s supervisor will not be allowed to contact the medical provider.

"Clarification" refers to requests to decipher handwriting or to understand the meaning of a response, and MSU Human Resources may contact the medical provider directly. Again, no additional medical information can be obtained. An employee can choose not to allow MSU Human Resources to seek clarification, but then MSU Human Resources may deny the leave if the certification is unclear.

An employee may be required to obtain a second opinion, at the department's expense, if reasonable doubt exists as to the validity of a medical certification. MSU is permitted to designate the health care provider to furnish the second opinion, but the selected health care provider cannot be employed on a regular basis by MSU (i.e., MSU may not regularly contract with or otherwise regularly utilize the services of the health care provider furnishing the second opinion). If the first and second opinions differ, an employee may be required to obtain certification from a third health care provider again at the department's expense. This third opinion shall be final and binding. The third health care provider must be designated and approved jointly by MSU and the employee.

Pending receipt of a second or third medical opinion, the employee is provisionally entitled to benefits of the Act.

Departments are required to post and keep posted on the premises, in conspicuous places, a copy of  FMLA Posting Requirements  explaining the Act's provisions and providing information concerning the procedures for filing complaints or violations of the Act. Departments who fail to post the required notice cannot take any adverse action against an employee, including denying FMLA leave, for failing to furnish the department with advance notice of a need to take FMLA leave. The department shall be responsible for providing the information required by the notice provisions of this regulation in a language in which the employees are literate.
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