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FML Frequent Questions

What is the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)?

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), enacted in 1993 by Congress, is a federal law to help employees balance their work and family lives by allowing them to leave for certain qualifying condition. Time off work is provided for up to 12 work weeks in a 12 month period for a qualifying event for eligible College employees.

Who is eligible to take Family and Medical Leave (FML)?

Columbus State employees (faculty, staff, regular or temporary and some part-time) who have been employed by the College for at least 12 months (time may not necessarily be consecutively but within the last seven years) AND who have worked for at least 1250 hours in the previous 12 month period.

What is a qualifying event?

  • The birth of a child and the care of the newborn child.
  • The placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care.
  • To care for an immediate family member of the employee who has a serious health condition.
  • A serious health condition of the employee that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of the job.

*FML also recognizes several Military Leave Entitlements.

What qualifies as a serious health condition as defined under the FMLA?

The FMLA defines a serious health condition as an illness, injury, impairment, or a physical or mental condition that involves either inpatient care in a hospital, hospice or residential care facility OR continuing treatment by a health care provider. Any absence involving hospitalization qualifies as a serious health condition.

How does intermittent leave work?

When it is medically necessary, an employee can take leave on an intermittent basis or on a reduced leave schedule. Employees needing to take leave for a planned medical treatment must make a reasonable effort to schedule these appointments so as not to disrupt the employer's operation. 

How does the FMLA work with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?

The Americans with Disabilities Act supports individuals with disabilities to ensure access, support and when appropriate, reasonable accommodations. Employees can request reasonable accommodations for disabilities and conditions related to pregnancy and birth. This could include requests for leave. The FML could potentially run concurrently with any leave accommodations made from the employee. The Human Resources Department (HR) will determine what constitutes a reasonable accommodation and how it impacts FML. 

Who do I need to contact if I need to use FML? 

Employees should contact Treschelle Kendrick, HR Leave Coordinator, at ext. 5755 or Click here to access the FML Leave Request Intake Form, which is also available on the Human Resources Forms page. 

Can a supervisor view the medical paperwork?

No. Medical records related to FML are kept in files separate from personnel-related records and only stored in HR. These records must be treated as confidential and made available on a need-to-know basis only. Supervisors and/or managers may be informed about necessary work duty restrictions, as well as necessary accommodations. 

What information can HR provide to the supervisor?

HR can provide the supervisor with information regarding the length of leave. Employees should inform their supervisor about the timing and length of leave because they are still required to comply with the department's usual and customary process for requesting leave, absent unusual circumstances. Further, HR can inform supervisors about any necessary restrictions of work or duties of the employee and necessary accommodations. 

Does an employee with the flu need to submit medical certification?

Possibly. An illness involving inpatient care or continuing treatment by a health care provider is considered a serious health condition. Employees who are out for more than three (3) days, visits a doctor and receives a prescription should be referred to HR to begin the FML process. Employees who are out for more than three (3) days and the illness becomes a serious health condition requiring hospitalization should also be referred to HR to begin the FML process. Common seasonal sicknesses are not considered a serious health condition under the FMLA unless one of the above scenarios occurs. 

Can employees check Columbus State email while on FML?

Yes. Nothing in the FMLA prohibits employees from checking email while out on leave. However, the supervisor should not encourage employees to work while on leave. 

What are the timelines for FML?

Once HR learns of an employee's need for FML, they must provide the employee with an eligibility notice within five (5) business days of the initial request. The employee is provided with the necessary paperwork in this notice. The employee then has 15 days to return the medical certification (if required) to HR. HR is then responsible for designating the leave as FML qualifying and must provide a Designation Notice to the employee within five (5) business days of receiving the medical certification or receiving enough information to determine if the leave qualifies as FML.

Does the supervisor need to approve FML leave before the Designation Notice is received?

No. HR is responsible for sending out the Notice of Rights and Responsibilities as well as the Designation Notice. 

How much notice must an employee provide before taking FML?

Employees must give at least 30 days' notice when the need for leave is foreseeable based on an expected birth, placement for adoption or foster care, or planned medical treatment. If 30 days' notice is not possible, employees are required to provide notice "as soon as practicable." Employees must also provide notice as soon as practicable for foreseeable leave due to a qualifying exigency, regardless of how far in advance such leave is foreseeable. The regulations clarify that is should be practicable for an employee to provide notice of the need for FML that is foreseeable either the same day or next business day. In all cases, the determination of when an employee should practicably provide notice must account for the individual facts and circumstances. Likewise, when the need for FML is unforeseeable, employees are required to provide notice as soon as practicable under the facts and circumstances of the particular case, which are clarified under the regulations within the time prescribed by the employer's usual and customary notice requirements applicable to the leave.


When Mandy goes to her Monday physical therapy appointment for her serious health condition, she finds out that the appointment she previously had scheduled for Thursday has been changed to Friday. When she returns to work after her Monday appointment, Mandy informs her employer that she will no longer need to leave on Thursday for physical therapy, but will need to leave on Friday instead. Mandy has now provided notice of her need for foreseeable leave as soon as practivable. 

Now that Columbus State is managing FML in-house, how do I report an absence taken under FML?

Since the College is no longer utilizing MetLife to administer FML, all employees need to complete an eLeave Request Form (Leave Request Form for Facilities only) when using leave covered by the FMLA. Employees entering time via CougarWeb will still continue to report FML time used in this manner. In addition, they will also submit leave request forms so the FML time can be tracted. Exempt employees will continue submitting leave request forms when FML time is used. All leave request forms related to FML should be sent to Treschelle Kendrick, HR Leave Coordinator, or forwarded by supervisors to for processing.