Family Leave

Q

I'm concerned about the response in Staff Notes Monthly in regard to leave
time for adoption. I think it's important to add to the comments made by
Laurie Carr in HR [question #455, published in the
September Staff Notes Monthly
] that individuals can
only use their FMLA (Family Medical and Leave Act) time if their supervisor
supports the leave. I know of one employee's supervisor who did approve the
paid leave when this person adopted. I know of another employee who
adopted, and the supervisor did not approve the leave, so this person could
not use accumulated (paid) sick time for bonding time. I feel this is a
discriminatory practice. This benefit should apply to every person who
adopts, not just the ones who have reasonable supervisors. Could you please
investigate this a little more and let the employees know about this? Thank
you.

Answered on November 16, 2000

A

Your comment and question refer to two different issues-the Family Medical
Leave Act (FMLA) and the family sick leave policy (80 hours per year).

Both adoption cases were eligible for FMLA, which provides employees the
right to take unpaid leave, or paid leave if it has been earned, for a
period of up to 12 work weeks per year for adoption or childbirth. Notice
should be given 30 days in advance of the family or medical leave if at all
possible. If the need for FMLA leave is not foreseeable, the supervisor
should be notified as soon as practicable. FMLA is not subject to the
approval or disapproval of the supervisor.

Family sick leave is granted according to UCAR policy to all employees;
absences due to family illness of up to ten working days per year are
permitted. Both employees were therefore allowed to take their accrued
family sick leave.

In the first adoption case, which occurred more than five years ago,
additional family sick leave was granted (see next paragraph below) during
which time the FMLA was also applied. In the second adoption, although the
employee's request for additional family sick leave was not granted, the
FMLA was applied while the employee used the available ten working days of
family sick leave and then some vacation hours. Arrangements were made with
the supervisor to work an adjusted schedule. The employee's "accumulated
sick time" was not accessed, as those hours are available only for the
employee's personal use. In both cases, the employees were notified of
their FMLA rights.

The family sick leave policy states, "additional time requested will be
reviewed and must be approved by your NCAR division director, or the
president of UCAR and the director of Human Resources." This allows the
division or program to review the circumstances and approve or deny the
request for additional family sick leave if the request is deemed
appropriate. Over the past five years, there have been just a few requests
for additional family sick leave and none have been approved. The sick
leave policy will be reviewed in 2001. This provision of the policy and its
application will be looked at closely, as we are concerned with the fair
and consistent application of all benefit policies.

-Laurie Carr, Benefits/Compensation Manager, Human Resources