Family Medical Leave Act and California Family Rights Act
The Risk Management Division provides oversight of medical leave benefits and provides specific information to an employee at the time a leave is requested or when information is received indicating the employee may be entitled to FMLA/CFRA leave.
When absence is required due to an employee’s serious health condition, the supervisor may be advised verbally by the employee or his/her representative; by receipt of a health care provider note authorizing leave, or by the completion of the Application for Family and Medical Leave. The employee must provide medical certification supporting the absence from work.
Application for Family Medical Leave
Physician or Practitioner Medical Certification for Employee
Physician or Practitioner Medical Certification for Family Member
Physician or Practitioner Medical Certification for Child Over 18
Any employee who makes or causes to be made any knowingly false or fraudulent material statement or material representation for the purpose of obtaining or denying benefits will be denied benefits received as a result of the false information, and, subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination.
Employees are eligible for 12 weeks of FMLA leave if they have worked for El Dorado County for at least 12 months (need not be consecutive), and must have worked at least 1250 hours (actual working hours, including overtime) during the 12 consecutive months immediately before the leave.
EMPLOYEE STATUS ON LEAVE
An employee who is on approved FMLA/CFRA time off work will retain his/her employment status with the County during the period of FMLA/CFRA leave. Employees are not entitled to accrue additional employment benefits or seniority during FMLA/CFRA leave.
Any employee who is on approved FMLA/CFRA time off work is required to report his/her status at reasonable intervals, as notified by his/her supervisor or the Risk Management Division. The employee must advise of his/her intent to return to work or the election to resign due to a change in circumstances.
The employee must provide his/her supervisor with 30 days advance notice when the leave is “foreseeable”. If the 30 days notice is not practical due to a lack of knowledge of when the time off will be required, a change in circumstances, or a medical emergency, notice must be given as soon as possible. If an employee fails to give 30 days notice in a foreseeable situation, without a reasonable excuse for the delay, the FMLA/CFRA time off work may be denied until at least 30 days after proper notice.
In recognition of the complexity of the FMLA/CFRA regulations, and to minimize the release of confidential medical information, the Risk Management Division will oversee and advise all County departments regarding authorization of FMLA/CFRA leave.
Once the employee explains the reason for the leave, if it is for a purpose covered by FMLA/CFRA, the Risk Management Division will notify the employee of the leave entitlement.
If the leave is for a FMLA/CFRA qualifying reason, it must be designated as FMLA/CFRA, even if there is no benefit to the employee from the FMLA/CFRA designation. The Risk Management Division will provide the employee timely written notice that a particular leave is "designated” as leave under FMLA/CFRA.
Leave may be taken in separate blocks of time due to a single illness or injury, rather than one continuous period. Reduced leave schedules are those that reduce the employee’s usual number of working hours per workweek or workday. Intermittent or reduced working-hour leaves must be made available if “medically necessary” for an employee’s or family member’s serious health condition. There must be a medical need for the time off work which can best be accomplished through an intermittent or reduced leave schedule. An employee requesting intermittent time off work is required to submit a medical certificate.
Intermittent Leave for Exempt Employees: Providing unpaid time off work required by the FMLA/CFRA will not result in the loss of a Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) exemption. Therefore, the County may make deductions from an exempt employee’s salary for any hours taken as intermittent or reduced leave under the FMLA/CFRA without jeopardizing an employee’s exempt status. Hours will be counted as defined by County policy.
An application for leave based on the serious health condition of the employee or the employee’s spouse, registered domestic partner, child or parent must be accompanied by a medical certification statement completed by a health care provider. In general, employees have 15 days in which to provide medical certification or as soon as possible after an emergency, unless there are practical reasons why the employee cannot comply. Periodic recertification of the leave may also be required. If the employee fails to furnish medical certification for a foreseeable leave, the County may delay the beginning of the leave until the certification is received. If the employee fails to furnish requested certification, the County can consider that no valid FMLA/CFRA leave exists, and the employee can be terminated for failure to report to work.
Recertification: If the reason for the time off work is the serious health condition of an employee, or an immediate family member, and if the certificate furnished by a health care provider specifies a minimum period, and the serious health condition continues longer than authorized, recertification is required on or before expiration of the initial certification. The County reserves the right to request recertification by a health care provider for one of the following reasons: there is a reasonable doubt upon the continuing validity of the certification, the employee requests an extension, or the duration or nature of the illness changes significantly.
Second Opinion: Risk Management has a reason to doubt the validity of the certification for the employee’s own serious health condition (not pregnancy disability), Management may request the opinion of a second health care provider. Second opinions will be at the expense of the requesting department. When a second opinion differs from a first opinion, the employee may require, at the expense of the requesting department, the opinion of a third health care provider approved jointly by the employer and the employee. The opinion of a third health care provider shall be considered final and binding.
INTEGRATION OF ACCRUED LEAVE
While on leave under this policy, El Dorado County requires an employee to concurrently use accrued leave time as outlined below. Similarly, an employee may elect to concurrently use paid accrued leaves in situations where it is allowed, but not required.
Required Use of Paid Leave during FMLA/CFRA Leave: Employees must exhaust their accrued sick leave concurrently with FMLA/CFRA leave to the extent outlined within the employee’s Memorandum of Understanding.
Employee’s Right to Use Paid Accrued Leave Concurrently with FMLA/CFRA: An employee’s use of accrued leave is limited to only situations covered by the applicable paid-leave policy.
Payroll Reporting: An employee must advise their department, in advance of the pay period, if they elect to integrate accrued leave beyond the required use of sick leave.
BENEFIT CONTINUATION WHILE ON LEAVE
Leave under this policy is unpaid. During a period of FMLA/CFRA, an employee will be retained on the El Dorado County health benefit plans under the same conditions that applied before leave commenced. The employee must continue to make any contributions that he/she made to the plan before taking leave. Individuals on leave will be treated like active workers for purposes of open enrollments or other coverage changes.
Collection of Premium Payments: During the time off work taken under FMLA/CFRA, the employee continues to be responsible for payment of his/her share of group health coverage. If an employee is using accrued leave benefits, and receiving a paycheck during FMLA/CFRA time off, the employee’s contribution for group health is paid through payroll deduction.
If there is not a paycheck for deductions, the Risk Management Division will issue a billing once monthly for the premium due amounts. Health insurance payments must be made directly to Risk Management.
The County obligation to pay for health benefits stops as soon as the employee announces that he/she does not plan to return from leave. If an employee fails to return to work after leave, or fails to pay his/her share of health benefit premiums, El Dorado County shall have the right to recover its share of health plan premiums for the entire leave period, unless the employee does not return because of the continuation, recurrence, or onset of a serious health condition of the employee or his/her family member which would entitle the employee to leave (without regard to whether the employee has exhausted the 12 weeks of FMLA leave), or because of circumstances beyond the employee’s control. Medical certification is required.
The County will not retroactively terminate coverage for employees who fail to return, to work after leave. In such cases, the health plan would still pay claims submitted for services incurred during the leave period. Collection efforts would be undertaken to recover the past due coverage payments. El Dorado County shall have the right to recover premiums through deduction from any sums otherwise due the employee (e.g., unpaid wages, vacation pay, etc.).
Discontinuing Coverage: An employee may elect to discontinue or reduce coverage during leave in order to avoid premium payments.
RETURN TO WORK
An employee must have the opportunity to return to an equivalent position after FMLA/CFRA leave, but he/she is not entitled to preferential treatment over other employees. Equivalent position generally means a position with equivalent pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment.
Layoffs: If there are layoffs or reductions-in-force while employees are on leave, the leave will terminate at the same time they would have been laid off had they remained. In this event, there is no right of reinstatement under FMLA/CFRA.
Early Return From Leave: If circumstances change and the employee no longer has need for, or qualifies for, further FMLA/CFRA leave, the employee must immediately notify the County. The employee’s leave is concluded and they will be promptly restored. In situations where the employee wants to return to work earlier than anticipated, the employee must give reasonable advance notice—generally, two working days.
Failure to Return: If the employee states that he or she will not return to work, the employer is no longer obligated to treat the employee as an active worker. Benefits under FMLA/CFRA leave are immediately terminated. An employee who fails to return upon the expiration of a FMLA/CFRA leave or fails to obtain an approved extension of the leave shall be regarded as having resigned in accordance with the Personnel Rules.
DENIAL OF LEAVE
Specific circumstances which will result in denial of requested FMLA/CFRA leave:
- The employee does not meet the eligibility requirements.
- The employee does not give adequate notice of a foreseeable leave. In this case, the leave may be delayed for 30 days.
- The employee fails to timely provide requested verification of a serious health condition from an acceptable health provider.
- The employee has already taken 12 weeks of leave in the current 12-month eligibility period.
- The employee is requesting leave for an event not meeting the specified criteria.
Spouses Both Employed By El Dorado County: If both parents are employed by the County, they are jointly limited to the aggregate total of twelve (12) weeks during any twelve (12) month period if the time off is for the birth or placement of a child or to care for a parent (not a “parent-in-law”) with a serious health condition. They may elect to split the weeks between them. However, both are entitled to the full 12 weeks for their own illness or caring for a sick child or spouse. Any period of leave because of a serious health condition of an employee or an employee’s child or spouse is not subject to the combined spousal limitation.
Registered Domestic Partner Leave:
- Example: If each spouse took six (6) weeks of FMLA/CFRA time off work for the birth of a healthy newborn child, each spouse would remain eligible for an additional six (6) weeks due to his/her own serious health condition or to care for a child with a serious health condition; however, they would have no remaining eligibility for bonding with a child or for care of a parent with a serious health condition.
Effective 1/1/05, California law was amended to extend employment benefits provided for a spouse to a “registered domestic partner”. While CFRA was not specifically amended, the benefits previously extended to a spouse apply to a registered domestic partner.
FMLA does not apply to leave related to a registered domestic partner. As a result, an employee with a registered domestic partner will have separate entitlements under Federal and State law.
Integration with Workers’ Compensation: If an eligible employee sustains a work-related disability, resulting in a serious health condition, the County will run FMLA/CFRA leave concurrent with workers’ compensation benefits. Exception: Safety employees eligible for Labor Code 4850 benefits.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
El Dorado County provides family and medical care leave for eligible employees as required by State and Federal law. Rights and obligations which are not specifically set forth above are set forth in the Department of Labor regulations implementing the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA), and the regulations of the California Family Rights Act (CFRA).
Additional information regarding FMLA may be found by review of the posted notice in each department or at:
Additional information regarding CFRA may be found at:
For assistance with FMLA or CFRA, contact:
Lavleen Cheema, Risk Management Technician