For specific family and medical needs, you are entitled to up to 12 weeks (480 Hours) of unpaid leave during a 12-month period. This is covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
Essential facts about Family and Medical Leave
- It is an entitlement. Therefore, you cannot be denied the leave if you satisfy all eligible conditions.
- It provides job protection. When you return to work, you are guaranteed the same position or an "equivalent" job, which means identical to the original job in terms of pay and benefits.
- You can maintain your health insurance while on leave.
How to request FMLA
- Employee notifies supervisor of intent to use FMLA for a qualifying medical or personal need
- This notification can be verbal or electronic; however, for tracking and record-keeping purposes, it is recommended it be done electronically (i.e., via email).
- The employee need not disclose the specifics of the medical or personal need if wanting to maintain confidentiality. As such, the employee may either submit medical certification directly to their leaving approving official or to Occupational Medical Service (OMS) to maintain confidentially. OMS can attest whether the employee qualifies for an FMLA-approved condition and the nature of duration for leave granting purposes. While OMS may comment on the existence or nonexistence of a severe health condition that qualifies for FMLA leave, only the leave-approving official may approve or disapprove the FMLA leave.
- Employee submits FMLA certification paperwork
An employee who wishes to use FMLA leave is required to complete certification connected to the purpose of the FMLA leave. Below are forms developed by the Department of Labor used to support the need for FMLA leave. The relevant form should be downloaded and completed by a health care provider and submitted to the employee’s leave approving official.
WH-380E Certification of Health Care Provider for Employee’s Serious Health Condition
WH-380F Certification of Health Care Provider for Family Member’s Serious Health Condition
WH-384 Certification of Qualifying Exigency for Military Family Leave
WH-385 Certification for Serious Injury or Illness of a Current Servicemember for Military Family Leave
WH-385V Certification for Serious Injury or Illness of a Veteran for Military Caregiver Leave
Please note the FMLA does not require the use of any specific certification form. The forms listed above are optional. If an employee chooses not to use these forms, the employee can provide the required information contained on a certification form in any format, such as on the letterhead of the healthcare provider or official documentation issued by the military. NIH may not require any additional information beyond what is specified in the FMLA and its regulations.
- Once the employee submits the certification paperwork, the employee or timekeeper enters the FMLA leave details in ITAS (up to 480 hours per 12-month period)
Because FMLA is an entitlement to employees who qualify under all eligibility conditions, notice, certification, usage purpose, usage limits, an employee may not be denied FMLA leave if the employee satisfies all eligibility requirements.
The employee's certification and paperwork for FMLA must be secured whenever not in use or under the direct control of authorized persons (similar to other sick leave/medical documentation). The paperwork should be safely stored for 3 years.
Other leave options
- Substitute your annual and sick leave for unpaid leave under FMLA.
- Use Paid Parental Leave
- Use leave earned from the Voluntary Leave Transfer Program, the NIH Leave Bank, and advanced annual and sick leave.
If you have any questions, please get in touch with your Administrative Officer or email WorkFlex@mail.nih.gov.