How Does Your District Calculate FMLA Leave? You May Want to Make a Policy Change

By Heather Castillo

We know that two new Family Medical Leave Act laws related to the COVID-19 pandemic went into effect on April 1, 2020, as follows:

  1. Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA) which extends Family and Medical Leave; and
  2. Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) which provides for emergency paid sick leave for absences.

These new provisions of the law are only effective for the limited time period of April 1 to December 31, 2020.

So, if you have employees who qualify for these special provisions, be sure to apply them and provide your employees with these additional benefits.

However, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, please don’t forget the Family Medical Leave Act basics. We recommend that you review your District’s Board Policy DEC (LOCAL), Leaves and Absences. It contains the language that establishes how your District calculates an employee’s entitlement to 12 weeks of FMLA leave.

There are four different ways to calculate FMLA leave:

(1) the calendar year – 12-month period that runs from January 1 through December 31;

(2) any fixed 12-months – 12-month period such as a fiscal year (for example, October 1 through September 30), a year starting on an employee’s anniversary date (for example, September 22 through September 21), or a 12-month period required by state law;

(3) the 12-month period measured forward – 12-month period measured forward from the first date an employee takes FMLA leave. The next 12-month period would begin the first time FMLA leave is taken after completion of the prior 12-month period; or

(4) a “rolling” 12-month period measured backward – 12-month period measured backward from the date an employee uses any FMLA leave. Under the ‘‘rolling’’ 12-month period, each time an employee takes FMLA leave, the remaining leave entitlement would be the balance of the 12 weeks which has not been used during the immediately preceding 12 months.

The “rolling” (also called the “look-back”) option provides the most protection for your District. If you have questions about FMLA leave, how to change the way your District calculates FMLA leave, or any other personnel benefit questions, please contact any of our attorneys for assistance.

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