Applies to: Employees who have worked for USC for twelve (12) months. See the Scope and Application section below for additional details.
1. FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE ACT/CALIFORNIA FAMILY RIGHTS ACT LEAVE
Issued: January 1, 2022
Last Revised: July 1, 2022
Last Reviewed: July 1, 2022
2. Policy Purpose
The Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) and California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”) are intended to assist eligible employees with balancing their work and family life by taking reasonable unpaid job-protected leave for qualified medical, family, or family military-related reasons. The Act is intended to balance the demands of the workplace with the needs of families and to promote the stability and economic security of families. USC is committed to compliance with the FMLA and CFRA.
3. Scope and Application
Under this policy, USC will grant up to twelve (12) weeks of leave during a twelve (12) month period to eligible employees (or up to twenty-six (26) weeks of military caregiver leave to care for a Covered Service member with a serious injury or illness incurred while on Covered Active Duty under the FMLA). The leave may be paid, unpaid, or a combination of paid and unpaid leave, depending on the circumstances of the leave and as specified in this policy.
For the purpose of this policy, USC is making the leaves portion of this policy applicable to all employees, regardless of whether an employee lives or works in the State of California. If an employee resides in a State that provides a more generous leave, then the more generous State leave applies.
USC expects all employees, supervisors, Deans of Faculty, Department Chairs, and HR Partners to act in good faith when requesting and approving leaves of absence and time-off under this policy. In the event USC becomes aware that actions taken do not align with the policy, corrective and disciplinary steps may be pursued.
Non-Retaliation or Discrimination Notice
USC will not take any adverse employment action against any eligible employee for requesting or taking leave as permitted under this policy. If an employee believes that adverse employment action has been or is being taken against the employee for exercising rights under this leave policy, please contact the Office of Equity, Equal Opportunity, and Title IX by phone at (213) 821-8298 or email at email@example.com.
To qualify for family or medical leave under this policy, an employee must meet all the following conditions:
- The employee must have worked for USC for twelve (12) months. The twelve (12) months need not have been consecutive. Separate periods of employment will be counted, provided that the break in service does not exceed seven (7) years. Separate periods of employment will be counted if the break in service exceeds seven (7) years due to National Guard or Reserve military service obligations or when there is a written agreement, including a collective bargaining agreement, stating USC’s intention to rehire the employee after the service break. For eligibility purposes, an employee will be considered to have been employed for an entire week even if the employee was on the payroll for only part of a week or if the employee is on leave during the week.
- The employee must have worked at least at least 1,250 hours at USC during the twelve (12) month period immediately preceding the leave. The 1,250 hours do not include time spent on a paid or unpaid leave of absence.
- For FMLA purposes only, the employee must work at a worksite where USC has fifty (50) or more employees within seventy-five (75) miles.
Employees who do not qualify or no longer qualify for family and medical leave under this policy may be eligible for other leaves at USC and should contact the HR Service Center.
In the event of a discrepancy between this policy and an employee’s collective bargaining agreement, the terms that provide greater family or medical leave rights to employees will govern.
The definitions below are applicable for the purposes of this policy:
|Child||A biological, adopted, or foster child, a stepchild, a legal ward, child born to a Parent through surrogacy, or a child of a domestic partner (CFRA only), or a person to whom the employee stands in loco parentis. Under FMLA only, the child must either be under age 18, or an adult dependent child. An adult dependent child is an individual who is age 18 or older and “incapable of self-care because of a mental or physical disability” at the time that FMLA leave is to commence.|
|Parent||A biological, adoptive, step or foster father or mother, legal guardian, or any other individual who stood in loco parentis to the employee when the employee was a child.|
|Parent-in-law||A Parent of a Spouse or domestic partner.|
|Spouse||Under CFRA, a partner in marriage, including same-sex partners in marriage, or a registered domestic partner. Under FMLA, a husband or wife as defined or recognized in the State where the individual was married and includes individuals in a same-sex marriage or common law marriage.|
|Grandchild||Means a Child of the employee’s Child.|
|Grandparent||Means a Parent of the employee’s Parent.|
|Sibling||Means a person related to another person by blood, adoption, or affinity through a common legal or biological Parent.|
|Covered Active Duty||For members of a regular component of the Armed Forces this means duty during deployment of the member with the Armed Forces to a foreign country. For Covered Active Duty or call to Covered Active Duty status in the case of a member of the Reserve components of the Armed Forces this means duty during the deployment of the member with the Armed Forces to a foreign country under a federal call or order to active duty in support of a contingency operation.|
|Covered Servicemember||A Member of the Armed Forces (including a member of the National Guard or Reserve) who is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy; is otherwise in outpatient status; or is otherwise on the temporary disability retired list for a Serious Injury or Illness. Also includes a veteran who is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy for a Serious Injury or Illness and who was a member of the Armed Forces (including a member of the National Guard or Reserve) at any time during the period of five (5) years preceding the date on which the veteran undergoes that medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy.|
|Next of Kin of a Covered Servicemember (FMLA only)||The nearest blood relative, other than the Covered Servicemember’s Spouse, Parent, son or daughter, in the following order of priority: blood relatives who have been granted legal custody of the service member by court decree or statutory provisions, brothers and sisters, Grandparents, aunts and uncles, and first cousins, unless the Covered Servicemember has specifically designated in writing another blood relative as their nearest blood relative for purposes of military caregiver leave under the FMLA. When no such designation is made, and there are multiple family members with the same level of relationship to the Covered Servicemember, all such family members shall be considered the Covered Servicemember’s next of kin and may take FMLA leave to provide care to the Covered Servicemember, either consecutively or simultaneously. When such designation has been made, the designated individual shall be deemed to be the Covered Servicemember’s only next of kin.|
|Serious Health Condition||An illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that requires inpatient care in a hospital, hospice, or residential health care facility, or continuing treatment or continuing supervision by a healthcare provider. (Note that under CFRA only, an employee’s own incapacity caused by pregnancy, prenatal medical care, or childbirth is not considered a Serious Health Condition. Such conditions are covered by California’s Pregnancy Disability Leave Law and addressed in the California Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) Policy).|
|Serious Injury or Illness||For purposes of military caregiver leave and Qualifying Exigency leave means:In the case of a member of the Armed Forces (including a member of the National Guard or Reserve), an injury or illness that was incurred by the member in line of duty on active duty in the Armed Forces (or existed before the beginning of the member’s active duty and was aggravated by service in line of duty on active duty in the Armed Forces) and that may render the member medically unfit to perform the duties of the member’s office, grade, rank, or rating; andIn the case of a veteran who was a member of the Armed Forces (including a member of the National Guard or Reserve) at any time during a period when the person was a Covered Servicemember, a qualifying (as defined by the Secretary of Labor) injury or illness incurred by a Covered Servicemember in the line of duty on active duty that may render the servicemember medically unfit to perform the duties of their office, grade, rank, or rating.|
|Qualifying Exigency||This includes activities such as short-notice deployment, military events, arranging alternative childcare, making financial and legal arrangements related to the deployment, rest and recuperation, counseling, parental care, and post-deployment debriefings. Please contact the HR Service Center for a full list of all activities and issues that would be considered a Qualifying Exigency.|
5. Policy Details
Under this policy, USC will grant up to twelve (12) weeks of leave during a twelve (12) month period to eligible employees (or up to twenty-six (26) weeks of military caregiver leave to care for a Covered Service member with a Serious Injury or Illness incurred while on Covered Active Duty under the FMLA). The leave may be paid, unpaid, or a combination of paid and unpaid leave, depending on the circumstances of the leave and as specified in this policy.
Types of Leave Covered
To qualify for FMLA/CFRA leave under this policy, the leave must be for one of the reasons listed below:
- To care for or bond with a newborn Child
- The placement of a Child for adoption or foster care and to care for the newly placed Child
- To care for a Spouse, Child, or Parent who has a Serious Health Condition, or, under CFRA only, to care for a domestic partner, Grandparent, Grandchild, Parent-in-law or Sibling who has a Serious Health Condition
- The employee’s own Serious Health Condition
- An employee may take leave because of a Serious Health Condition that makes the employee unable to perform the functions of the employee’s position
- Employees with questions about what illnesses are covered under this policy are encouraged to consult with their respective HR Partner.
- Qualifying Exigency related to the Covered Active Duty or call to Covered Active Duty of an employee’s Spouse, Child, or Parent in the Armed Forces, including a member of the National Guard or Reserves.
- Under the FMLA only, military caregiver leave (also known as Covered Service member leave) to care for an injured or ill service member or veteran. An employee whose Spouse, son, daughter, Parent, or next of kin is a Covered Service member may take up to twenty-six (26) weeks of leave in a single twelve (12) month period to care for that service member under the FMLA. The first 12 weeks of military caregiver leave may run concurrently with CFRA if the family member is a covered family member under CFRA.
- Eligible employees are also entitled to FMLA (and possibly CFRA) to care for a Covered Service member who is a current member or veteran of the Armed Forces, including a member or veteran of the National Guard or Reserve, who is on the temporary disability retired list, who has a Serious Injury or Illness incurred in the line of duty on active duty for which they are undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy; or otherwise in outpatient status. In the case of a veteran, the individual must have been discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable at any time within five years prior to the treatment that an eligible employee requests; is otherwise in outpatient status. Eligible employees may not otherwise take leave under this provision to care for former members of the Armed Forces, former members of the National Guard and Reserve, or members on the permanent disability retired list.
Length of Leave
An eligible employee can take up to twelve (12) weeks for the FMLA and/or CFRA circumstances listed in the first five reasons above under this policy within a twelve (12) month period.
USC will measure the twelve (12) month period as a rolling twelve (12) month period measured backward from the date an employee uses any leave under this policy. Each time an employee takes leave, USC will compute the amount of leave the employee has taken under this policy in the last twelve (12) months and subtract it from the twelve (12) weeks of available leave. The balance remaining is the amount the employee is entitled to take at that time.
- Example 1: Employee takes five (5) weeks of FMLA/CFRA leave on January 3rd, USC would look back twelve (12) months (from January 3rd back to the previous January 2nd) to see if any FMLA has been used. The employee had taken another four (4) weeks of FMLA/CFRA on March 1st. The employee thus has nine (9) weeks available to use until the following March 1st, when the previously used days will “roll off” the leave year.
- Example 2: Employee takes three (3) weeks of FMLA/CFRA leave on June 5th. USC would look back twelve (12) months (from June 5th to the previous June 6th) to see if any FMLA/CFRA leave had been used. The employee had not taken any previous FMLA/CFRA during this period, so the employee would have another nine (9) weeks of leave time available.
Leave for Birth and Care of Newborn Child; Placement of Child in Adoptive or Foster Care
Leave for the birth and care of a newborn Child, or placement of a Child in adoptive or foster care, must conclude within twelve (12) months following the birth or placement.
Military Caregiver Leave
An eligible employee can take up to twenty-six (26) weeks of military caregiver leave under FMLA during a single twelve (12) month period. Employees using military caregiver leave are entitled to a combined total of twenty-six (26) workweeks of leave for any FMLA-qualifying reason during the single twelve (12) month period.
For military caregiver leave, USC will measure the twelve (12) month period starting on the first day the employee takes the leave (it is not a rolling backward measurement like that used for other FMLA/CFRA qualifying reasons). FMLA leave already taken for other FMLA-qualifying circumstances within the 12 months prior to taking the military caregiver leave will be deducted from the total of twenty-six (26) weeks available. For example, an employee who uses ten (10) weeks of FMLA leave on for the employee’s own Serious Health Condition is limited to a total of sixteen (16) more workweeks of FMLA leave to care for a covered service member.
If both Spouses work for USC and each wishes to take leave to care for a covered injured or ill service member, the pair may only take a combined total of twenty-six (26) weeks of leave.
If a holiday falls within a week taken as FMLA/CFRA leave, the week is nevertheless counted as a full week of FMLA/CFRA leave. If USC’s business activity or the employee’s work has temporarily ceased for some reason and employees generally are not expected to report for work for one (1) or more weeks, the days USC’s activities have ceased do not count against the employee’s FMLA/CFRA entitlement. For example, where an employee is not working during USC’s Winter Recess period (which is typically between one and two weeks), that non-working time would not be deducted from the employee’s FMLA/CFRA entitlement.
Similarly, if an employee uses FMLA/CFRA leave in increments of less than one (1) week, the fact that a holiday may occur within a week in which an employee partially takes leave does not count against the employee’s FMLA/CFRA entitlement, unless the employee was otherwise scheduled and expected to work during the holiday.
Contracts/Assignments for Less Than 12 Months
For faculty and staff employees with contracts or assignments less than twelve (12) months (e.g. nine (9) month or ten (10) month faculty), the days during USC’s summer break or other times in which the employee is not under contract or assignment (i.e. not working) will not be deducted from the employee’s total weeks of available FMLA/CFRA entitlement. For example, if an employee took FMLA/CFRA leave starting on May 1st for a qualifying reason that would have them unable to work through July 31st, but their yearly contract ended on June 1st, only four (4) weeks would be counted against the employee’s FMLA/CFRA entitlement for that year.
Intermittent Leave or a Reduced Work Schedule
Employees may take FMLA/CFRA leave in twelve (12) consecutive weeks, may use the leave intermittently (in separate blocks of time due to a single covered health condition), or via a reduced work schedule (reducing the usual number of hours worked per workweek or workday) if medically necessary. In all cases, the leave may not exceed a total of twelve (12) workweeks (or twenty-six (26) workweeks to care for an injured or ill service member under the FMLA) over a twelve (12) month period.
Employees who are certified to take FMLA/CFRA leave on an intermittent or reduced leave schedule basis must advise their HR Partners at the time of their absence from work if the absence is for the certified FMLA/CFRA reason.
If an employee is using intermittent or reduced schedule FMLA/CFRA leave for planned medical treatment, USC may temporarily transfer the employee to an available alternative position with equivalent pay and benefits if the alternative position would better accommodate the intermittent or reduced schedule.
FMLA/CFRA leave taken for reason of the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a Child of the employee does not have to be taken in one (1) continuous period of time. The basic minimum duration of the leave shall be two (2) weeks. However, USC shall grant a request for a FMLA/CFRA leave of less than two (2) weeks’ duration on any two (2) occasions and may grant requests for additional occasions of leave lasting less than two (2) weeks in its sole discretion. Leave for birth, adoption, or foster care of a Child must be taken within one (1) year of the birth or placement of the Child.
FMLA/CFRA leave is a job-protected leave of absence and is unpaid, but in certain circumstances employees on FMLA/CFRA leave may have their pay continued partially or in full. For example, when an employee is on leave for the employee’s own Serious Health Condition, disability benefits may pay out. Additionally, in certain circumstances, employees may be eligible to receive pay continuance under USC’s workers’ compensation program, paid family leave, or paid parental bonding leave. In such cases, FMLA/CFRA leave will run concurrent with any pay continuance programs. The substitution of paid leave time for unpaid leave time does not extend the twelve (12) week (or where applicable, the 26 week) FMLA/CFRA leave period.
If the employee otherwise qualifies for FMLA/CFRA but does not qualify for pay continuance under disability or workers’ compensation or any other pay continuance program (such as paid family leave or paid parental bonding leave), the employee generally must use any accrued paid time off available to them (e.g., vacation time, sick time) prior to unpaid leave when taking leave for the employee’s own health condition. When taking leave for other covered reasons under CFRA only, the employee must use any accrued vacation time, and has the option of using available sick time for reasons covered by the sick time policy.
Coordination Between Different Types of Leaves
CFRA leave may run concurrently with FMLA leave when the leaves are taken for reasons covered under both laws, and CFRA leave runs concurrently with paid disability and paid family leave for eligible employees up to a total leave not to exceed twelve (12) weeks in a twelve (12) month period. FMLA and CFRA may also run concurrently with related local leave laws, to the extent allowed under such laws. Employees will receive all benefits and protections to which they are entitled to under any and all applicable federal, state, or local leave laws.
California Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) is designated separately from, and does not run concurrently with CFRA leave, although these leaves may be taken consecutively. PDL, however, does run concurrently with FMLA leave.
Medical and Other Benefits
During leave under this policy, USC will maintain eligibility for employees and their family members who participate in USC’s health, welfare, and retirement plans on the same terms as if the employees had continued to work.
If paid leave is substituted for unpaid FMLA/CFRA leave, USC will deduct the employee’s portion of any benefit premiums as a regular payroll deduction. If leave is unpaid, the employee must make arrangements to pay their portion of the benefit premiums. Group health care coverage will cease if a premium payment is more than thirty (30) calendar days late, but the employee will be notified at least fifteen (15) calendar days before coverage lapses. Additionally, if an employee fails to return from leave, USC may require repayment of any premium that was paid for maintaining the health coverage for the employee, unless the failure to return is because of a continuing or recurring Serious Health Condition or that of a covered family member, or because of other circumstances beyond the employee’s control.
Use of leave under this policy will not result in the loss of any employment benefit that accrued prior to the start of the leave. Retirement contributions to a defined contribution plan or service credits to a defined benefit plan will not accrue during any unpaid portion of the leave. Employees are not eligible for holiday pay for holidays falling within the leave period. Employees are also not eligible to accrue vacation or sick time within the leave period.
Leave taken under this policy will not be treated as a break in continuous service for purposes of seniority and salary adjustments. Additionally, employees must be actively at work to receive Tuition Assistance Benefits, or if an employee is already enrolled in coursework on the date of the leave, then the employee is permitted to finish the coursework, but is not eligible for further assistance until they return from leave.
Return to Work
Returning to work from a leave for an employee’s own Serious Health Condition will be contingent upon a written certification/medical opinion that the employee is fully able to perform all essential duties of the position as described in the job description.
HR Partners or the HR Service Center will engage in an interactive process regarding any work restrictions or reasonable accommodations that may be needed to assist the employee to return or upon return to work. In most instances, an employee who is granted FMLA/CFRA and who returns upon or before the expiration of the FMLA/CFRA leave period will be restored to the same or comparable position upon return to work with equivalent status, pay, benefits and other employment terms, without loss of seniority, the same or similar geographical location, and without any waiting period for benefits, subject to any applicable exceptions. However, employees have no greater rights to reinstatement or to other benefits and conditions of employment than if the employee had not taken FMLA/CFRA leave.
An employee on FMLA/CFRA leave is not protected from actions that would have affected the employee if the employee was not on FMLA/CFRA leave. For example, if a shift has been eliminated, or overtime has been decreased, an employee would not be entitled to return to work that shift or the original overtime hours. If the employee would have been laid off or terminated if the employee had been working during the leave period, the employee will be afforded the same considerations afforded to other employees who are laid off or terminated.
Certification for the Employee’s or Employee’s Family Member’s Serious Health Condition, Qualifying Exigency, or Serious Injury or Illness of Covered Service member for Military Family Leave
USC will require certification for the employee’s or the employee’s family member’s Serious Health Condition and for Qualifying Exigency leave or for the Serious Injury or Illness of the Covered Service member. The employee must respond to such a request within fifteen (15) calendar days of the request or provide a reasonable explanation for the delay. Failure to provide certification may result in a delay or denial of continuation of leave.
This information should be handled by the HR Partner and not an employee’s direct supervisor. The employee will be a given an opportunity to resolve any deficiencies in the medical certification before leave is denied due to insufficient certification.
For FMLA/CFRA leave for an employee’s own health condition, USC has the right to ask for a second opinion if it has reason to doubt the certification. USC will pay for a doctor providing a second approval, which USC will select. USC may deny FMLA/CFRA leave to an employee who refuses to release relevant medical records to the health care provider designated to provide a second or third opinion. If necessary, to resolve a conflict between the original certification and the second opinion, USC will require the opinion of a third doctor. USC and the employee will mutually select the third doctor, and USC will pay for the opinion. This third opinion will be considered final. The employee will be provisionally entitled to leave and benefits under the FMLA/CFRA pending the second and/or third opinion.
This certification may be provided using the Certification of Health Care Provider for Employee’s or Family Member’s Serious Health Condition Form, Qualifying Exigency Form, Certification for Serious Injury or Illness of Current Servicemember for Military Family Leave Form, or the Certification for Serious Injury or Illness of a Veteran for Military Family Leave Form, as applicable.
USC may request recertification for the Serious Health Condition of the employee or the employee’s family member if the employee seeks an extension of their previously certified leave, or if the employee is using (or states they need to use) more intermittent leave than previously certified.
Failure to Return from Leave
The failure of a staff employee to return to work upon the expiration of a family or medical leave of absence may subject the staff employee to immediate termination. The failure of a faculty member to return to work upon the expiration of family or medical leave is considered serious neglect of duty which may be treated as grounds for termination according to the process in the Faculty Handbook.
The application of this policy, and the procedures and definitions set forth herein, may be modified in accordance with changes in applicable law and regulations.
Employees should request leave under this policy with as much advanced notice as possible by contacting the HR Service Center. The HR Service Center will inform the employee of their responsibilities and of the documentation that is required to request leave.
USC may require an employee on FMLA/CFRA leave to report periodically on the employee’s status and intent to return to work.
Supervisors and Deans or Department Chairs with questions regarding the application of this policy should consult the HR Service Center for additional guidance.
Upon request for FMLA/CFRA, employees will receive the proper forms to certify a leave of absence.
Below is the list of the units or individuals who are responsible for aspects of the policy and their major responsibilities.
|POSITION or OFFICE||RESPONSIBILITIES|
|HR Service Center||1. Support the employee, supervisors and Deans or Department Chairs with questions and application of the policy|
9. Related Information
10. Contact Information
Please direct any questions regarding this policy to:
|HR Service Center||(213) firstname.lastname@example.org|