Family Care Leave of Absence

Purpose

Family care leave is absence for the birth or adoption of a child, for placement of a child in foster care, or for a serious health condition affecting a spouse, parent, or child.

Eligibility

Service. One continuous year of service is required for an individual to take a leave of absence for family care.

Hours. In the 12 months prior to the leave, the individual must have worked at least 1,250 hours.

Provisions

Holding the job. The job is held for up to 12 weeks in any 12 month period. In the case of intermittent leave or leave taken through a reduced work schedule, the job may be held for the time equivalent to 12 weeks of the employee’s work schedule. If department operations permit, the employing department may hold the job beyond 12 weeks, but no longer than the 6 months of EST.

Pay. Incidental sick time for care of family members, vacation and personal floating holidays are used at the start of the leave, followed by unpaid leave. Additional paid time may be available for parents when eligible for the birth and adoption parental leave (BAPL).

Benefits. An individual on a paid family care leave will continue to have benefits coverage. The University continues to pay the employer contribution during a family care leave. If enrolled in Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) these benefits are frozen until the individual returns from leave. The dependent care FSA can only be used when the employee is actively at work. Any health claims incurred while on leave can be submitted to the health care FSA for reimbursement once the employee returns to work.

Unpaid leave. An individual on an unpaid leave will be billed for benefits coverage. Flexible Spending Accounts are temporarily terminated until the individual returns from leave. Commuter benefits cannot be accessed or changed when on an unpaid leave of absence. The deadline to make changes to commuter benefits is the 5th of the month prior. Please make any necessary changes prior to that deadline. For additional question on the commuter benefits, visit http://www.northwestern.edu/hr/payroll/payment/pretax-transit/.

Application Procedure

Application. The staff member must contact The Hartford 30 days prior to the leave or as soon as possible. Instructional faculty must contact The Hartford 60 days prior to the start of the leave as well as their Dean's office for academic planning. You can reach The Hartford at 1-888-541-7283. Click here to view the step by step instructions of applying for a leave. 

End of the leave

Return to work. At the expiration of an FMLA leave, staff members and instructional faculty members return to the same or an equivalent position as was held when the leave began. 

Extension. If the leave of absence extends longer than The Hartford approved period, the staff member or instructional faculty member must request an extension from The Hartford prior to the expiration of the leave. If the staff member or instructional faculty member does not return from the leave of absence and does not request an extension, their employment may be subject to termination.