Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
The Family and Medical Leave Act provides eligible employees with job reinstatement and benefits continuation rights while on a qualifying leave of absence. Family and Medical Leave is considered time taken under both the federal Family and Medical Leave Act and the District of Columbia Family and Medical Leave Act, if applicable.
Entitlements and Eligibility
If eligible, you are entitled to family and medical leave of up to 16 workweeks of unpaid family leave and 16 workweeks of unpaid medical leave during a 24 month period under the District of Columbia Family and Medical Leave Act and up to a total of 12 workweeks of unpaid family and medical leave during a 12 month period under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act for:
*the birth, adoption or placement of a child for foster care; (entitlement expires 12 months after the birth, adoption or placement)
*the serious health condition of an employee that prevents the employee from performing
the essential functions of the job
*the care of a family member who has a serious health condition
The federal FMLA also permits eligible employees to take unpaid military family leave of up to either 12 workweeks during a 12 month period for qualifying exigencies or up to 26 workweeks during a single 12 month period for military caregiver leave. An eligible employee is limited to a combined total of 26 workweeks of leave for any federal FMLA-qualifying reason during the “single 12-month period”.
If family or medical leave is covered under both the D.C. Family and Medical Leave Act and the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, FMLA leave will be granted under both Acts and will run concurrently. Under both Acts, special rules regarding the use of and amount of FMLA leave may apply when family members both work for the university. To qualify for family or medical leave under this policy, you must meet both of the following conditions:
Helpful Resources for Pregnancy and Birth
Click Here for GW’s Healthy Pregnancy website
Click Here for Advocacy Resources for Expecting Mothers
Click Here for Advocacy Resources for Expecting Fathers
Click Here for child care resources
Intermittent or Reduced Schedule FMLA Leave for Bonding after Birth
An eligible employee may use intermittent or reduced schedule FMLA family leave for bonding purposes after the birth or placement of a child with departmental approval. Intermittent or reduced schedule FMLA family leave for bonding purposes must be scheduled in advance and requested in writing at time of FMLA application.
Please note that the department’s approval is not required for intermittent leave due to the serious health condition of the mother or child nor for continuous family leave for bonding immediately following birth or placement.
Serious Health Condition
A serious health condition is defined as any illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves:
*any incapacity or treatment connected with inpatient care
*any incapacity requiring absence from work of more than three calendar days and continuing treatment by a health care provider
*continuing treatment by a health care provider for a chronic or long- term condition that is incurable or so serious that if untreated would likely result in incapacity of more than three days
*for prenatal care
Definitions under the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act
If eligible, you can take federal Family Leave for the following family members:
Spouse - defined as a husband or wife as defined according to applicable state or local law.
Parent – defined as a biological, adoptive, step or foster father or mother, or any other
individual who stood “in loco parentis” (stood in place of a parent) for you.
This term does not include parents in law.
Son or daughter – for purposes of FMLA leave taken for birth or adoption, or to care
for a family member with a serious health condition, son or daughter means a biological,
adopted, or foster child, a stepchild, a legal ward, or a child of a person standing in loco
parentis, who is either under age 18, or age 18 or older and “incapable of self-care because
of a mental or physical disability defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA)” at the time that FMLA leave is to commence.
Next of kin of a current servicemember or covered veteran – defined as the nearest blood relative other than the servicemember's spouse, parent, son, or daughter.
Son or daughter on active duty or call to active duty status – defined as your
biological, adopted, or foster child, stepchild, legal ward, or a child for whom you
stood in loco parentis, who is on active duty in a foreign country or on call to active duty in a foreign country, and who is of any age.
Son or daughter of a current servicemember or covered veteran – defined as the servicemember's biological, adopted, or foster child, stepchild, legal ward, or a child for whom the servicemember stood in loco parentis, and who is of any age.
Parent of a current servicemember – defined as a servicemember's
biological, adoptive, step or foster father or mother, or any other individual who stood in
loco parentis to the servicemember. This term does not include parents in law.
Definitions under the D.C. Family and Medical Leave Act
If eligible, you can take D.C. Family Leave for the following family members:
*A person related by blood, legal custody, or marriage
*Child who lives with you and for whom you permanently assume and discharge parental responsibility. Leave can be taken for children up to age 21, individuals over age 21 who are incapable of caring for themselves, and individuals up to age 23 who are full-time individuals at an accredited college or university
*A person with whom you share or have shared, within the last year, a mutual residence and with whom you maintain a committed relationship.
Coordination with Paid Time Off
While FMLA is an unpaid leave of absence, you may elect to use applicable accrued annual, sick or other paid time off while on FMLA leave to the extent permitted under university HR policy. You may also be eligible for short-term disability or workers' compensation benefits. Any annual, sick or other paid time off you elect to use while on approved FMLA will run concurrent with the FMLA entitlement.
Please note that only using the types of paid time off paid through GW Payroll Services will allow you to maintain your paid status for annual and sick time accruals. Paid time off such as Voluntary Short Term Disability, Long Term Disability and Worker’s Compensation are paid by outside administrators and are not considered “paid status”.
You must provide 30 days advance notice of the need to take FMLA leave when the need is foreseeable. When 30 days’ notice is not possible, you must provide notice as soon as practicable.
In order to be approved for FMLA leave, you must provide sufficient information to determine 1) if the leave qualifies for FMLA protection and 2) the anticipated duration of the leave. Sufficient information should include if you are unable to perform your essential job functions; your family member is unable to perform daily activities, the need for hospitalization or continuing treatment by a health care provider, or circumstances supporting the need for military family leave. You must also identify if the requested leave is for a reason for which FMLA leave was previously taken or certified. You may also be required to provide a certification and periodic recertification supporting the need for leave. While on continuous leave, you may also be required to furnish the university with periodic reports of your status and intent to return to work.
If you require intermittent FMLA leave, you must comply with the university’s normal call in procedure for each FMLA absence. Your supervisor or Human Resources Client Partner can provide you with your departmental call in procedures. You will also be responsible to provide Benefits Administration of all hours and/or days used during your FMLA approval period for accurate recordkeeping.
Covered employers must inform employees who are requesting leave whether or not they are eligible under FMLA. If you are eligible, the notice provided to you will specify any additional information required as well as your rights and responsibilities. If you are not eligible, the notice will provide the reason(s) for ineligibility. The university will also notify you if your leave will be designated as FMLA protected and the amount of leave counted against your leave entitlement.
Benefits Continuation during FMLA Leave
During unpaid FMLA leave, you may choose to either continue or cancel your eligible benefits. Please note that employees approved for an accommodation for medical leave under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) will also have benefits continuation rights similar to FMLA leave.
*Continue benefits – If you are using paid time off such as annual, sick or GW paid short-term disability to remain in paid status during your FMLA leave, benefits premiums will continue to be deducted from your paycheck as normal and you will not need to remit payment to the university separately. If during your FMLA leave you will be in an unpaid status of 30 days or less, your portion of benefits premiums will go into arrears and will be deducted upon your return to work. If your unpaid leave of absence will exceed 30 days, you will be responsible to remit payment for benefits premiums directly to the university to maintain benefits coverage.
Eligible benefits to continue on FMLA leave (with premium payment)
-Basic Life/AD&D and Supplemental Life/AD&D
-Short-Term and Long- Term Disability
-Universal Life (Transamerica)
-Retirement Contributions (if leave is paid through GW Payroll Services)
-FSA Healthcare Accounts
Benefits NOT eligible to continue on FMLA leave
-Dependent Day Care Flexible Spending Accounts can only be continued per the rules of the flexible spending accounts summary plan description. Continuation of this plan is dependent upon the length and timing of your leave of absence. The FSA summary plan description can be found on the Benefits Administration website at:
If you wish to participate in the FSA dependent care account upon your return to work, you MUST re-elect the FSA dependent care benefit within 30 calendar days of your return date via the GW Easy Enroll benefits system at www.benedetails.gwu.edu. If no re-election is made, your next opportunity to enroll will be during open enrollment or within 30 calendar days of a Qualified Life Event (QLE).
In addition, FSA dependent care accounts cannot be newly elected during a leave of absence. You can enroll the FSA dependent care benefit upon your return to work within 30 calendar days via the GW Easy Enroll benefits system at www.benedetails.gwu.edu.
*Cancel benefits – Cancelations of benefits can be done within 30 calendar days after the start of an unpaid leave via the GW EasyEnroll benefits system at www.benedetails.gwu.edu.
Upon return to active employment, you may re-enroll or make a change (consistent with a qualifying life event) to your benefits within 30 calendar days of returning to work via the GW EasyEnroll benefits system. If no election is made, your next opportunity to enroll will be during open enrollment or within 30 calendar days of a Qualified Life Event (QLE).
*Premiums Remittance - If applicable, the university will provide monthly invoices and instructions on how to remit payment for benefits premiums. Please note that failure to make payments will result in cancelation of voluntary benefits effective the end of the month following the last payment or deduction.
*Other Important Benefits Information
Healthcare Flexible Spending Accounts
If you choose to continue a Healthcare FSA, these dollars will be contributed on a post-tax basis. If you choose to cancel this plan during your leave, claims can only be submitted which were incurred prior to the effective date of your leave. Please note that if you miss any premium payments for your Healthcare FSA, your account will be suspended per the flexible spending accounts summary plan description.
For more information on Flexible Spending Accounts please visit the Benefits Administration website at
During unpaid leave, any portion you were contributing to the Supplemental Retirement Program cannot continue since those are only done through payroll deduction. For information on withdrawals, please contact your retirement plan administrator.
TIAA/CREF – (800) 842-2776 or Fidelity and Vanguard – (800) 343-0860
Short Term Disability, Long Term Disability and Group Life and AD&D Insurance
The disability and life insurance coverage provided to you by the university at no cost will continue for the duration of your leave. Premium payments for voluntary plans will be required in order to continue coverage.
Faculty and staff retain tuition benefits for themselves, their spouses, and eligible dependent children while on an approved* leave of absence. The level of benefits is based on your initial date of regular employment. Eligible dependents may also participate in the Tuition Exchange Program, Inc. on a space available basis.
*Please note that if you are away from work and are not on an approved leave of absence, continuation rights under GW’s tuition program will be forfeited.
Other Payroll Deductions
If you have other payroll deductions such as parking fees, gym membership, union dues, etc., you will need to contact the respective department directly that administers those deductions to determine billing information.
Please be aware that benefits rates change periodically. You will be notified of new premiums and given a chance to change plans at each Open Enrollment*. Open Enrollment occurs each fall with an effective date of January 1.
*Please note that any changes you make to your life and disability benefits during a leave of absence will not become effective until applicable Evidence of Insurability (EOI) forms are completed timely and approved by Unum and you have returned to active employment.
Please contact your Supervisor or Human Resources Client Partner at least at least two business days prior to your return to work. Failure to notify HR of your impending return to work may negatively affect payroll and benefits processing.
If you do not return to work following FMLA leave for a reason other than: 1) the continuation, recurrence, or onset of a serious health condition which would entitle you to FMLA leave; 2) the continuation, recurrence, or onset of a current servicemember’s or veteran’s serious injury or illness which would entitle you to FMLA leave or 3) other circumstances beyond your control, you may be required to reimburse the university for the employer share of benefits premiums paid on your behalf during your FMLA leave.
If you return timely from approved FMLA leave and you have submitted all required documentation, you will be restored to your same position or to an equivalent position with equivalent benefits, pay, and other terms and conditions of your employment, but will have no greater right to reinstatement than if you had been continuously employed during FMLA leave.
If you were out on FMLA leave for your own serious health condition, you will be required to present a fitness-for-duty certificate prior to reinstatement. If such certification is not timely received, your return to work may be delayed until certification is provided.
Important Forms and Links:
FMLA Request Form
Certification of Healthcare Provider for Employee’s Serious Health Condition
Certification of Healthcare Provider for Family Member’s Serious Health Condition
Certification of Healthcare Provider for Qualifying Exigency for Military Family Leave
Certification of Healthcare Provider for Serious Injury or Illness of Covered Service
Member for Military Family Leave
Certification of Healthcare Provider for Serious Injury or Illness of a Veteran for Military
Certification for Adoption-Foster Care Form
Other Helpful Resources:
FMLA Checklist for HR Client Partners and Supervisors
FMLA Checklist for Employees
FMLA Frequently Asked Questions
Employee Rights and Responsibilities under the FMLA
Fact Sheet #28 – The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993
Fact Sheet #28A – FMLA Military Family Leave Entitlements
District of Columbia Family and Medical Leave Act Regulations
District of Columbia Family and Medical Leave Act Poster
© 2009 The George Washington University,
2121, I Street NW, Washington DC 20052