Family Medical Leave

Mary Hao, Director, Human Resources

What You Need to Know and How to Request

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and California Family Rights Act (CFRA) are laws that provide eligible employees up to 12 weeks of job protected unpaid leave in a 12-month period for:

  • Care of yourself or family member with a serious health condition
  • Disability due to pregnancy, child birth, or related medical condition, or need to bond/care  with a new born, adopted or foster child
  • Military Leave - Additionally FMLA provides special provisions for military family leave

Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) is a California law that allows up to four months of job protection for anyone who needs to be off of work due to a pregnancy related disability including prenatal care, and postpartum recovery. Note: County policy, PMR 44.14, allows a total of six months for pregnancy.

Other Protected Leaves - More information on protected leaves available here.

Eligibility – To be eligible for FMLA or CFRA you need to have worked for the County for at least 12 months, and worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months immediately before the date your leave is to begin. If you are not eligible for FMLA/CFRA and you are pregnant, you are likely still eligible for Pregnancy Disability Leave, please contact the Leave Coordinator in Human Resources

To Request Leave - Fill out forms and send to Leave Coordinator, Marin County Human Resources or scan and email: HRLeaves@marincounty.org   

  1. Request for Family Medical Leave Form
  2. Physicians Certification Form for Employee or Family Member

During your leave – While you are on leave, you are encouraged to stay in touch with your supervisor particularly if there are any foreseeable changes to your return to work date.

Returning to work – You will be required to provide a Fitness for Duty to Return from Leave Certification form or other release to return note from your medical provider before returning to work. You may also be eligible for modified duty or accommodations if you are returning to work with limitations. Modified duty is a temporary modification to the work assignment to help you transition back to regular duty. A reasonable accommodation is an adjustment to the work environment or to the manner the job is customarily performed to enable disabled individual to perform essential job functions.

For all questions about leaves contact the Leave Coordinator in Human Resources at (415) 473-6598 or email: HRLeaves@marincounty.org

 

Family Medical Leave Process

The steps below describe the complete leave process for you to request and prepare for a leave of absence. It tells you how to request family medical leave, what documentation you will need to provide, what to expect from Human Resources, how you are paid, notes on benefits, your responsibilities while on leave, and details about returning to work.

1. Requesting Leave

Give your supervisor 30 days’ notice before taking family medical leave when it is foreseeable and fill out the Request for Leave form. Foreseeable leaves include a major surgery scheduled in advance or planning to bond with a new child.

2. Medical Certification

The medical certification must include the start date of the condition, the expected return to work date and must be signed by the health care provider. The information does not need to include specifics regarding the medical condition other than to say that it is serious. The medical certification is private and confidential and should be submitted directly to the Leave Coordinator in HR.

Intermittent leave may be taken as the condition requires. The physician must give specific information on the dates and times for intermittent leave. If leave is for medical appointments, it is your responsibility to make appointment times with minimal disruption to County business needs.

3. Receive Notification

You will receive a notice of approval, provisional approval, or denial via US mail within a few days after you have sent your request.

4. How You Are Paid While on leave

While the laws, FMLA, CFRA and PDL, provide job-protected family/medical leave, this time off is unpaid. You will use your own sick, vacation and other accruals, as well as State Disability Insurance (SDI), Paid Family Leave (PFL) and/or Long Term Disability (LTD) insurance to help pay for your time off.

Notes on SDI and LTD Eligibility

  • SDI - If you are a Union member, SDI is available only if your MOU’s provides for it.
  • LTD - LTD is an optional benefit that you elect at the beginning of your employment with the County or during open enrollment. If you did not elect to pay into LTD insurance then this is not available to you.

5. Benefits – Possible Changes

During the time you are on FMLA/CFRA, the County sponsored portion of Health Benefits will continue. If you run out of accrued paid time, you will be placed on leave without pay. If this happens, the County will continue to pay its customary portion of your benefits and you will be responsible for premium payments in excess of the County sponsored portion. You will work with the Department of Finance to pay for the out of pocket premiums or to make temporary changes to your plans.

Once the 12 weeks of FMLA/CFRA leave is finished and if you are still on leave without pay, you will be responsible for pay the full premium amount. If this occurs, please contact the Department of Finance, DOF-Payroll@marincounty.org  to make arrangements to pay your insurance premiums.

6. Your Responsibilities While on Leave

  • The most important part of your responsibilities while on leave is to remain in communication with your department, particularly if there is a foreseeable change to your return date whether you plan to return sooner or later than first expected.
  • If there is an extension to your return date send in the medical certification before your return date arrives, preferably a week or two before so that your department can plan for coverage of your usual duties.
  • If you are covered by State Disability, send in SDI payment statements to the payroll person in your department so that SDI payments are properly integrated with your paycheck. Employee Rights and Responsibilities under FMLA

7. Returning to Work

You will be required to provide a Fitness for Duty to Return from Leave Certification Form or other release to return note from your medical provider before returning to work. You may also be eligible for modified duty or accommodations if you are returning to work with limitations. Modified duty is a temporary modification to the work assignment to help you transition back to regular duty. A reasonable accommodation is an adjustment to the work environment or to the manner the job is customarily performed to enable disabled individuals to perform essential job functions.

How You Are Paid While Taking Time Off

Understanding the Difference Between Job Protection and How You are Paid

There are two aspects of leave that are important to understand: job protection and income replacement. The laws and County policy that give you job and benefit protection but are unpaid include FMLA, CFRA and PDL, as explained in the first section. How you are paid depends on your own leave balances (sick, vacation, etc.), as well as your eligibility for income replacement through:

  • Worker's Compensation (WC), if the injury occurred on the Job
  • California’s State Disability Insurance (SDI), if illness or injury is not job related
  • Paid Family Leave (PFL), for illness or injury of family member
  • Long Term Disability (LTD), this optional insurance coverage that you choose when hired or at Open Enrollment can be used in conjunction with WC and SDI so that you have higher percentage of coverage

Workers’ Compensation (aka Temporary Disability)

Temporary Disability Workers’ Compensation payments are made when an injury or illness is accepted as work related. Temporary Disability payments are made direct to the employee by Tristar the County’s Third Party Administrator. Payments are approximately 2/3 of an employee’s average weekly wage up to the State maximum and may last up to two years.

State Disability (SDI) - SDI provides affordable, short-term (up to one year) benefit to eligible workers who suffer a loss of wages when unable to work due to a non-work-related illness or injury, or due to pregnancy or childbirth.

Paid Family Leave (PFL) – PFL was established for workers who suffer a loss of wages when they need to take time off from work to care for a seriously ill child, spouse, parent, registered domestic partner, or to bond with a new child. It pays up to six weeks of benefit.

SDI does not pay for the first 7 calendar days of the disability. If SDI approves your claim, they pay up to 55% of your weekly salary for a maximum of 52 weeks.  You normally receive your first check about 15 to 21 days after submitting the SDI claim, assuming all the necessary information is provided.

The SDI and PFL programs are funded through payroll deductions. Note: Most but not all, County employees are covered. Check your union’s MOU or call HR to find out if you are eligible to claim SDI.

How to Register and File a Claim Tutorials

Registration  SDI Online Tutorial Claimant Registration

 Filing a Disability Claim http://www.edd.ca.gov/Disability/pdf/SDIOnlineTutorialFilingaDIClaim.pdf

Filing a Paid Family Leave Care Claim  http://edd.ca.gov/Disability/pdf/SDIOnlineTutorialFilingaPFLCareClaim.pdf

Filing a Paid Family Leave Bonding Claim   http://www.edd.ca.gov/disability/pdf/SDIOnlineTutorialFilingaPFLBondingClaim.pdf

Other Questions? – Ask EDD

https://askedd.edd.ca.gov/asp/frmEDDCOMM.aspx

Long Term Disability (LTD) - This insurance is an optional plan that you may choose at the time of hire and pays benefits only if you are unable to work for 90 days or more. LTD pays up to a maximum percentage of pre-disability income up to $3,000 per month. Benefits may be reduced by other payments you receive, such as SDI.

LTD Monthly Income Benefit Percentage:

  • All enrolled employees except Deputy Probation Officers, Probation Managers, and Group Counselors.... 60%
  • Deputy Probation Officers, Probation Managers, and Group Counselors............................................66 2/3%

Employee Responsibilities While Receiving Workers Comp, SDI, PFL or LTD - It is not lawful to receive disability benefits AND a full paycheck. The total compensation received by you (paycheck + disability) cannot exceed 100% of standard base salary. Therefore, you must work with your department Payroll Person and the Department of Finance, to properly integrate disability benefits with your County paycheck. This is called integration.

Integration of Disability Payments with Your County Paycheck

Integration

Integration is a method of merging your paid leave time with disability or family leave benefits during a medical leave of absence. State Disability Insurance (SDI), Paid Family Leave (PFL), and Temporary Disability under Worker's (TD) all provide partial wage replacement during a medical leave of absence. During the period of integration, the County will continue to contribute toward your benefits as if you were receiving a full paycheck. Likewise, you will continue to accrue leave and service credit toward retirement.

It is not lawful to receive disability benefits and a full paycheck. Your total compensation (paycheck + disability) cannot exceed 100% of your standard base salary.

Your Responsibilities

As soon as you receive any of SDI, PFL, or TD benefit payment notice (debit card, statement or check), please fax or email a copy of the payment notice to your department payroll technician. Typically you will receive a new statement every two weeks, so this will be a recurring responsibility during your leave of absence.

*** If individual circumstances prohibit you from carrying out these responsibilities, please call the County's Leave Manager, at (415) 473-6598 or email to HRLeaves@marincounty.org to make other arrangements.

Reasonable Accommodation

In accordance with The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), The Americans with Disabilities Amendment Act (ADAAA), and the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), the County of Marin is committed to providing equal employment access to all qualified applicants and employees, and a workplace free of discrimination on the basis of medical condition, physical disability or mental disability.

The ADA and FEHA require employers to provide reasonable accommodation to individuals who have a known medical condition, physical disability or mental disability where accommodation is needed to (1) enable an individual to be considered for a job, (2) enable an individual to perform the essential functions of his or her job, or (3) enable an individual to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment. The FEHA also requires employers to engage in a timely, good faith interactive process with an employee or applicant who requests reasonable accommodation.

 What is Reasonable Accommodation

Reasonable accommodation is a modification or adjustment to the work environment, or to the manner or circumstances under which the position is customarily performed, that enables an individual with a disability to perform the essential functions of that job. As an employer, the County of Marin provides reasonable accommodations to qualified employees with disabilities, unless to do so would be an undue hardship or pose a direct threat to the health and safety of others.

 Requesting an Accommodation

Generally, to comply with privacy laws, the County is subject to strict limitations with regard to making inquiries about the physical, mental or medical condition of an employee. Employees are therefore generally responsible for making their disability known and requesting accommodation when needed.

An employee may submit a request either verbally or in writing to their supervisor or manager, Department Head, or directly to the County’s Human Resources Department. The employee will then be invited by an HR representative to engage in the interactive process for reasonable accommodation.

Documentation from an appropriate medical provider will generally be required to provide verification of the physical or mental limitations imposed by the disability or medical condition, as well as any recommendations for accommodation.

The Interactive Process

When a request for accommodation is made, the HR representative and the individual making the request (in consultation with the employee’s department) shall engage in a good faith interactive process to determine what, if any accommodation might enable the employee to perform the essential functions of their job. During the interactive process, a variety of possible accommodations may be discussed.

While each request for accommodation is unique and individual cases vary, steps to be taken in the Interactive Process may include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Obtain information from the employee and the employee’s medical provider regarding the limitations caused by the disability or medical condition and the need for accommodation. In consultation with the employee, identify possible accommodation(s) which would enable the employee to perform the essential functions of the position, or otherwise enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment.
  • Assess the reasonableness of each accommodation in terms of effectiveness and undue hardship.
  • Implement the accommodation most appropriate for both employee and the County. It should be understood that the County does not have to provide the accommodation preferred by the employee or his/her medical provider. The County has the ultimate discretion to choose amongst the accommodations, so long as the chosen accommodation is reasonable and effective. If one accommodation costs more or is more burdensome than the other, the County may choose the less expensive or less burdensome accommodation, or one that is easier to provide.