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Family and Medical Leave Act

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Federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA)

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) provide eligible employees with up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave for certain family and medical reasons. All regular academic/administrative, managerial/professional and office/service employees of the University of Nebraska with an FTE of .50 or greater, are eligible for family/medical leaves of absence. Other employees (including graduate student and temporary employees) who have worked for at least 1,250 hours during the year preceding the start of the requested leave are also eligible according to the provisions contained herein.

Reasons for Taking Leave

The university will grant up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave for any of the following reasons:

  • to address maternal/paternal concerns related to the birth or adoption of a child, or the placement of a child with the employee for foster care;
  • to address a serious health condition of the employee's spouse, child or parent;
  • to address the employee's own serious health condition that renders the employee unable to perform essential functions of the job; or
  • in association with a death in the immediate family

Substituting Paid Leave for Unpaid FML

Employees may request that accrued paid leave (e.g. vacation, sick, or funeral leave) be substituted for the unpaid family/medical leave entitlement. Any paid leave of five consecutive days or longer taken for any of the reasons listed above will be credited against the twelve-week family/medical leave entitlement.

Advance Notice and Medical Certification

The employee may be required to provide advance leave notice and medical certification. Family/ medical leave may be denied if these requirements are not met.

  • The employee ordinarily must provide 30 days of advance notice when the leave is foreseeable.
  • UNL may require medical certification to support a request for leave due to a serious health condition. Additional medical opinions may be required at UNL's expense. UNL may also require a fitness for duty report prior to a return to work.

Job Benefits and Protection

  • For the duration of approved family/medical leave, the University will maintain the employee's health coverage under any University-sponsored group health plan.
  • Upon return from family/medical leave an employee will return to the same employment status as if the employee had been continuously employed. As such, employees will usually be restored to their original or equivalent positions with equivalent pay, benefits, and other employment items.
  • The use of approved family/medical leave will not result in the loss of any employment benefit that accrued prior to the start of an employee's leave


  1. Employee requests information about family/medical leave.
    [NOTE: Employees requesting family/medical leave are entitled to the leave, provided it is for one of the purposes noted on the Request for Family/Medical Leave. For more information see Family/Medical Leave Policy in Chapter 100, Section 108, of the Business Policies and Procedures or call Human Resources, 402-472-3101.]
  2. Department provides Request for Family/Medical Leave to employee and gives needed assistance in completing. Issues to discuss:
    • Primary issue is whether the leave is being requested for a qualifying event under the Family/Medical Leave Policy.
    • Whether leave will be paid, unpaid, or a combination of both
    • University's continuing contribution to insurance coverage, even during unpaid leave; questions about insurance may be directed to Benefits, 402-472-2600
    • Employee's current leave balances
    • Whether medical documentation will be required and whether a medical release will be required when employee returns to work (it is usually advisable to request medical documentation; it is sometimes helpful to provide the employee's job description to the medical provider)
  3. If it is determined that the request meets qualifying event criteria for family/medical leave, supervisor signs the form and sends to the appropriate dean or director.
  4. Dean or director approves or denies, sends original to Human Resources and copy to department.
  5. Department notifies employee.
  6. Department is responsible for documenting non pay status with a Personnel Action Form. This should be done for an office/service employee after two pay periods in non pay status and for a managerial/ professional employee after one pay period.
  7. Department is responsible for tracking the period of family/medical leave. In order to insure the least disruption to insurance benefits for the employee, it is important that the department notifies the Benefits Office when the employee returns to work.


The expressed intent of the Board of Regents is that employees have a right to family/medical leave. Issues surrounding a family/medical leave such as timing or other considerations will be addressed by the immediate supervisor or unit administrator, dean or director, Director of Human Resources, or appropriate vice chancellor.

This policy will be administered without regard to race, religion, color, gender, age, national or ethnic origin, disability, marital status, veteran status, sexual orientation, or other factors that lawfully cannot be the basis for employment decisions.


  1. Any eligible employee (as described in the Family/Medical Leave Policy) completes the Request for Family/Medical Leave*, supplying all requested information.
  2. The employee gives the request to the immediate supervisor or unit administrator. It is the supervisor's responsibility to follow normal procedures and communication channels in the department before responding to the employee's request. If there are questions or issues that need clarification in connection with the leave request, it is the supervisor's responsibility to talk with the Department of Human Resources.
  3. The supervisor either:
    1. approves and signs the leave request and forwards the form to the dean or director
    2. denies the request and returns the form to the employee; (if the request is denied, the employee may forward the leave request form directly to the dean or director for a decision)
  4. The dean or director either:
    1. approves and signs the request and sends the original to Human Resources and a copy to the department; the department notifies the employee
    2. denies the request and returns the form to the department; the department notifies the employee
  5. If the request is denied by the dean or director, the employee may appeal the decision. An employee who wishes to appeal the decision bears the responsibility for taking the request to the appropriate administrator.
    1. Persons with administrative, managerial/professional, and office/service appointments appeal through the Department of Human Resources.
    2. Persons holding academic appointments including chairs, deans, and directors with partial academic appointments appeal through the appropriate vice chancellor in consultation with the Director of Human Resources.

In considering requests for a family/medical leave, it is the responsibility of the appropriate vice chancellor to consult with the Director of Human Resources prior to making a final decision. Vice chancellors also have responsibility for routing their decisions to the Department of Human Resources for record-keeping. This is to insure consistency across the campus and to adhere to UNL's strong commitment to equitable treatment of faculty and staff who request family/medical leave.

All decisions regarding a family/medical leave for faculty or staff are grievable under existing staff and faculty grievance systems. Questions regarding this policy should be addressed to the Department of Human Resources.

See also: Crisis Leave