Iowa State University

Inside Iowa State
January 7, 2000

A primer on ISU's family/medical leave

by Linda Charles
The birth or adoption of a child may present Iowa State employees with questions about leave policies. Below, human resource services associate director Marlise McCammon and specialist Diane Muncrief answer some of the most commonly asked questions. For more information, contact them at 4-9350.

What is Iowa State's maternity leave policy?
Maternity leave is covered through the university's sick leave policy. According to the Office Procedure Guide (Section 3), accrued sick leave may be taken anytime an employee is unable to work due to pregnancy, miscarriage, abortion or childbirth. For leave purposes, pregnancy is treated as an illness.

What steps should I take once I know I'm pregnant?
Notify your supervisor of your condition and your expected delivery time. Keep your supervisor informed of any associated work restrictions as soon as they develop. Work restrictions will require documentation by your doctor explaining the limitation and duration.

Are there any special programs to help departments if someone is out on maternity leave?
The Provost Office may assist in funding replacements for faculty members who take maternity leave during the semester. There is no similar program for staff.

My doctor said I can expect to be off work for six weeks following the birth of my child. I have accrued eight weeks of sick leave. Can I take the full eight weeks?
No. Sick leave will be paid only for the period the doctor certifies that you need to be off work. Additional time would need to be taken as vacation or leave without pay. Work with your supervisor to arrange the additional time off.

Doesn't the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allow me to take 12 weeks off for the birth of a child?
Yes, it does. But the Family Medical Leave Act is a job protection act, not a sick leave policy. It protects your job and certain benefits while you are off work for specific reasons, such as the birth of a child. But it does not provide you any pay during that time off. To be paid, you will need to use your accrued sick leave or vacation. The FMLA runs con-currently with any sick leave or vacation you take for the birth of a child.

My wife is due soon. Can I take time off?
The university allows you to use up to five sick leave days each year to care for ill or injured members of your immediate family. However, if you want to take additional time off, you will need to work with your supervisor to arrange to take vacation or leave without pay.

If my doctor has said I can expect to be off six weeks following the birth of my child, can I use those five sick leave days (designated for care for a family member) to stay home an extra week?
No, not unless your newborn is ill. Those days can only be used to care for someone who is ill or injured. While your husband can use those days to care for you because you are, under the definitions of maternity leave "ill," you cannot use those days unless your child is sick.

I'm adopting a child. What are my options?
You are allowed to use five days of sick leave. (These days are not part of the university program that allows you to use five sick days each year to care for a family member.) Any additional time off would have to be charged to your accrued vacation or taken as leave without pay. You would need to work with your supervisor to arrange the additional time off.

Am I covered under the FMLA if I adopt a child? Shouldn't I be able to take 12 weeks off?
You are covered under FMLA. However, FMLA does not provide any pay. To be paid, you could use up to five days of sick leave and cover the rest of your absence with accrued vacation.

What absences are covered by FMLA?
Absences may include the birth of a child, placement of an adopted or foster care child, and your own serious illness. It also applies if you need to care for an immediate family member (parent, spouse, child or other legal dependent) with a serious health condition. Remember, this is leave without pay. To be paid, you must arrange to take sick leave or vacation at the same time, under the guidelines of the university's policies.

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