FMLA and Leave of Absence

Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

What is FMLA?

The family and Medical Leave Act is a United States Federal Law requiring covered employers to provide employees with job-protected and unpaid leave for qualified medical and family reasons.

FMLA is designed to help employees balance their work and family responsibilities by allowing them to take reasonable unpaid leave for certain family and medical reasons. It also seeks to accommodate the legitimate interests of employers and promote equal employment opportunity for men and women.


Requires an employee seeking FMLA protections because of a need for leave due to a serious health condition or to case for a covered family member; child, spouse or parent with a serious health condition to submit a medical certification issued by the healthcare provider. You may also use FMLA for the birth of a child and adoption.
If you will be out of work for 5 days or longer for any of the above, you must complete the FMLA paperwork.

Who is eligible?

Anyone who has been employed for at least twelve (12 months by the school system and who has at least 1250 hours of service during the previous twelve-month period.

The Process

Typically FMLA paperwork should be completed 30 days prior to your leave. We understand this is not always the case, so if you have been out at least 5 days or more, scheduled a surgery, or you have received a delivery date, FMLA paperwork should be obtained and submitted to your physician to be completed. Once you have obtained FMLA paperwork, you will need to schedule an appointment with Kathleen Hunsicker. During this meeting, you will discuss when FMLA will start, how many sick days and personal days you left to use during your time off, how many weeks are allotted, how to request interims or substitutes, etc. I will provide a letter explaining your leave and a breakdown of insurance premiums if you are in unpaid leave. There will also be a form giving you the opportunity to continue or suspend your insurance.

Upon your return from FMLA leave, you must provide Kathleen Hunsicker with a release from your physician.

If you decided to suspend your insurance, you will need to re-enroll 30 days prior to returning.


  • · The professional employee shall notify Kathleen Hunsicker at least thirty (30) days in advance of the time she foresees any necessity to alter employment commitments as a result of maternity leave. In the event of early confinement or related illness the thirty-day notice may be waived upon a written statement of a licensed physician indicating the inability of the teacher to give such notice. Within five (5) days of delivery, the employee must report her actual delivery date to Kathleen Hunsicker, Human Resources Office. This actual delivery date will be used to accurately re-calculate maternity leave. Dates will be revised on the leave form to match the actual delivery date and subsequent return to work date. A physician’s statement must be submitted to support these revised dates. After leave dates are finalized and a teacher has designated non-paid leave as part of his or her parental leave, those leave dates cannot be changed once an interim teacher has been contracted to fill those non-paid leave dates.
  • · The leave of absence is up to sixteen (16) weeks for the purpose of maternity/childcare. Maternity /childcare leave will be limited to no more than 16 weeks, per FMLA and State of Tennessee law. Upon return the employee shall be placed in the same position vacated prior to the leave.
  • · Family Medical Leave Act, any employee who has been employed the previous 12 months and worked at least 1,250 hours during the previous 12-month period is eligible for Family Medical Leave subject to conditions listed under FMLA, including: The employer shall maintain coverage under the “group health plan” for the professional employee who is approved for FMLA, up to 12 work weeks during any 12 month period, at the level and under the conditions coverage would have been provided if the employee had continued employment continuously for the duration of such leave. If the professional employee is not eligible under the conditions of FMLA, the professional employee shall have the opportunity to continue health coverage at their own expense while on leave; up to one calendar year. The professional employee shall have the opportunity to continue all fringe benefits at the employee’s own expense while on leave.
  • · Sick leave may be used by a professional employee in cases of physical disability due to pregnancy, miscarriage, childbirth, and recovery there from. Any combination of sick and non-paid days may be used, however any designated sick days must be used on the front end of the leave, including leaves that run concurrently.

Q: How far in advance should the paperwork be submitted prior to leave?
A: Typically at least 30 days, but we are aware that in some cases you will not be able to give a 30 day notice.

Q: Must I use all of my accumulated sick days before I use non paid days?
A: You may use any combination of sick or non-paid days, however any designated sick days must be used on the front end of you leave.

Q: Do I need a doctor’s note for my FMLA and for my leave?
A: Yes. The FMLA doctor’s statement is part of the FMLA paperwork and FMLA application must be used. A separate note on office letterhead from your physician is needed for the extended leave paperwork.

Q: How will my leave affect my accumulated experience?
A: You are given credit for any paid days. You are not given credit for non-paid days.

Q: How do I initiate my maternity leave?
1. Contact Kathleen Hunsicker 30-60 days prior to delivery to start the FMLA process.
2. You will be provided FMLA paperwork or you can download the attached forms to submit to your physician. (Download FMLA Employee Form)
3. You will also be provided Disability paperwork, if applicable. You may also download the following forms to provide to your physician. (Download Educator Disability Package)
4. Once forms are completed you will make an appointment with Kathleen Hunsicker to complete the FMLA process.

Q: How long may I take for maternity leave?
A: The period of disability is directed by a physician is typically six weeks with a regular delivery and eight weeks with a c-section. (This is the period of incapacity)

Q: When does my actual maternity leave start?
A: It starts on your delivery date.

Q: What if my delivery date changes?
A: If your date changes, you need to notify Kathleen Hunsicker as soon as possible, or within five days of delivery. Your leave forms can be changed with a phone call. We will, however, need a new doctor’s note with the revised dates. This is important because if an interim is hired, the dates on their contract may change. The dates have to be correct on the contract.

Q: When I deliver, do I need to notify someone?
A: Yes. You need to notify HR and your school within 5 days. This is important because it may change your leave dates.

Q: What do I need to do if I have complications and need to extend my leave?
A: Call Kathleen Hunsicker and this will be handled on the phone with documentation/note from your physician. Communication is important during an extended leave.

Q: Can I use my personal days in occurrence with my sick days during my leave?
A: Yes

Q: If my doctor puts me on bed rest before I deliver, will this count as part of my maternity leave?
A: No. This must be submitted as a separate sick leave, with attached doctor’s note.

Q: How does non-paid days affect my insurance?
A: MCS will cover its portion of health insurance up to 12 weeks, rather you are on paid or unpaid leave. After the 12 weeks you are responsible for 100% of the monthly premium. You may choose to suspend coverage or continue coverage while on unpaid leave. You may download the following forms to complete and return to Kathleen Hunsicker during your FMLA appointment.
Leave of Absence-Continue Coverage:
Leave of Absence-Suspend Coverage: