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Index > Operations Policies > Family and Medical Leave & Parental Leave (FMLA)

Family and Medical Leave & Parental Leave (FMLA)


The federal Family Medical Leave and the Rhode Island Parental and Family Medical Leave (together, FMLA) allow eligible employees to request unpaid time away from work for certain qualifying reasons.The purpose of this policy is to illustrate the ways in which employees are able to use these benefits and their responsibilities under all applicable laws.


12-Month Rolling Period: The 12-month period is a rolling period measured backwards from the date each leave is taken. In other words, if the leave starts on June 10, 2009, the 12-month rolling measuring period begins on June 11, 2008 and ends on June 10, 2009.

Serious Health Condition: A serious health condition is an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves either:

  • an overnight stay in a medical care facility, or
  • continuing treatment by a health care provider for a condition that either:
    • prevents the employee from performing the functions of the employee’s job, or
    • prevents the qualified family member from participating in school or other daily activities.

Subject to certain conditions, the continuing treatment requirement may be met by a period of incapacity of more than three consecutive calendar days combined with:

  • at least two visits to a health care provider, or
  • one visit and a regimen of continuing treatment, or
  • incapacity due to pregnancy, or
  • incapacity due to a chronic condition.

Other conditions may meet the definition of continuing treatment. Please see HR for details.

Health Care Provider (HCP): A doctor of medicine or osteopathy who is authorized to practice medicine or surgery in the State in which the doctor practices as well as any other person determined to be capable of providing health care services such as podiatrists, dentists, clinical psychologists, optometrists, chiropractors, nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, clinical social workers, Christian Scientist practitioners (listed with the First Church of Christ, Scientist, Boston, MA), and physician assistants.

For purposes of Military Caregiver Leave, a Health Care Provider is defined as a Department of Defense (DOD) health care provider, a Department of Veterans Affairs health care provider, a DOD TRICARE network authorized health care provider, and a DOD Non-network TRICARE authorized private health care provider.

Domestic Partner: A same-sex or opposite-sex partner meeting all of the following criteria:

  • The partner is at least 18 years of age.
  • The partner and employee have been each other’s sole domestic partner, and have shared a common residence, for at least the prior 12 consecutive months, and have every intention of remaining indefinitely in the relationship.
  • The partner and employee are responsible for each other’s common welfare, are jointly responsible for basic living expenses, and have a relationship of mutual support, caring, and commitment.

Eligible Family Member: employee’s spouse, domestic partner, son or daughter, or parent or parent-in-law.


Basic FMLA Leave

RISD provides eligible employees up to 13 weeks of basic FMLA leave during any 12-month rolling period for the following reasons:

  • For a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the employee’s job;
  • To care for the employee’s eligible family member who has a serious health condition;
  • Incapacity due to pregnancy, prenatal medical care or child birth; or
  • To care for the employee’s child after birth, or placement for adoption or foster care.

Military Family Leave

Eligible employees with an eligible family member on active duty or call to active duty status in the National Guard or Reserves in support of a contingency operation may use up to 12 weeks of their 13-week leave entitlement to address certain qualifying exigencies. Qualifying exigencies may include attending certain military events, arranging for alternative childcare, addressing certain financial and legal arrangements, attending certain counseling sessions, and attending post-deployment reintegration briefings.

Military Caregiver Leave

RISD provides up to 26 weeks of military caregiver leave during any 12-month rolling period to eligible employees to care for an eligible family member who is a current service member of the Armed Forces, including the National Guard or Reserves, who:

  • has a serious injury or illness incurred in the line of duty on active duty that renders them medically unfit to perform their duties, and
  • is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy; or is in outpatient status; or is on the temporary disability retired list.


To be eligible for this coverage, the employee must have worked at RISD for at least:

  • 12 months prior to a request for leave; and
  • 1,250 hours during the 12-month period preceding the commencement of leave

For purposes of the first of these two requirements, the 12 months need not be consecutive. Moreover, if you complete your 12 months of service while on leave you may be eligible for FMLA at that point. Please see HR for details.

“Key employees” may not be eligible for some or all FMLA coverage. Please see HR for details.

Benefits & Protections

During FMLA leave, RISD will maintain the eligible employee’s applicable benefit coverage on the same terms as if the employee had continued to work. Upon return from FMLA leave, RISD generally will restore the employee to their original or equivalent position with equivalent pay, benefits, and other employment terms. Job restoration is not guaranteed if a job has been eliminated for legitimate business reasons.

Use of FMLA leave will not result in the loss of any employment benefit that accrued prior to the start of the employee’s leave. Employees will be free from reprisal, retaliation, or discrimination for requesting or taking FMLA leave.

Use of Leave

An employee is not required to use their leave entitlement in one block. Leave can be taken intermittently or on a reduced-leave schedule when medically necessary. Employees must make reasonable efforts to schedule leave for planned medical treatment so as not to unduly disrupt RISD’s operations. Leave due to qualifying exigencies may also be taken on an intermittent basis.

Leave to care for a newborn child or for a newly placed child must conclude within 12 months after the birth or placement.

Spouses or domestic partners who are both employed by RISD will be limited to a combined total of 13 weeks of FMLA leave when the leave requested is related to:

  • the birth and care of a child; and/or
  • the placement of a child for adoption or foster care, and to care for the newly placed child.


Employee Responsibilities

Notice & Supporting Information

An eligible employee must give their supervisor a minimum of 30 days written advance notice of their intent to take an FMLA leave when the leave is foreseeable. When the need for leave is not foreseeable, the employee must provide the notice as soon as practicable and generally must comply with RISD’s normal call-in procedures. When a serious health condition is unanticipated, an initial oral request confirmed afterward in writing within one to two days is acceptable.

Employees must provide sufficient information (including appropriate medical certification) for RISD to determine if the leave may qualify for FMLA protection. The employee should also provide the anticipated timing and duration of the leave. Calling in sick is not sufficient.

Medical Certification

Written certification issued by an HCP, on a form that will be provided by RISD, is required to support an employee’s request for leave due to a serious health condition of the employee or a family member. Certification must include a statement outlining the following:

  • The HCP’s name, contact information, and type of practice or specialization,
  • The date the condition began
  • Its probable duration
  • Appropriate medical facts sufficient to support leave, and
  • The HCP’s written certification that the employee is unable to perform their essential job duties, or that the employee is needed to care for a sick family member for a specified period of time.

If the certification is for intermittent/reduced schedule leave for planned treatment, the certification should also include:

  • Why there is medical necessity for leave
  • An estimate of dates and duration of treatment/recovery periods.

If there may be unforeseeable episodes of incapacity, the certification should also include:

  • Why there is medical necessity for the leave
  • An estimate of the frequency and duration of episodes of incapacity.

Such certification must be provided by the employee at the time a request for leave is made, if practical, but not later than 15 calendar days following the request. Human Resource will provide the HCP with the FMLA Certification Form if a certification was not provided at the time of the request for leave. If the certification is incomplete or insufficient, RISD will provide written notice of what specific information is needed and give the employee seven calendar days to cure deficiencies. Failure on the part of the employee to provide the appropriate certification within the deadlines provided may cause the leave to be denied. If certification is incomplete or insufficient, RISD’s HR professional may, in some cases also contact the employee’s HCP directly to authenticate and or clarify the certification.

Recertification and/or progress reports may be required by RISD at appropriate intervals.


With respect to qualifying exigency and/or military caregiver leaves, if certification is complete/sufficient, HR may verify certification by contacting the Department of Defense (DOD) unit to confirm the military member is on active duty or call to active duty status. HR may also contact the HCP to verify the appointment schedule and nature of meeting. RISD’s HR department does not need prior approval from the employee for verifications.

Salary Continuation

An employee taking FMLA leave must use available sick time and may use accrued/available vacation time and, if eligible, Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI), or Worker’s Compensation.

Employees must follow the normal rules for use of vacation, sick, and other paid time off benefits.

Holidays occurring during a full week of FMLA leave count as FMLA leave.

Light Duty

RISD will reasonably attempt to accommodate light duty when light duty work is available and doing so will not compromise RISD’s operational needs. If an employee returns to work in a light duty capacity, the employee will be granted reinstatement rights through the end of the applicable 12-month FMLA leave year.

Return to Work (Fitness for Duty) Certification

Prior to returning to work from FMLA leave for the employee’s serious health condition, the employee must provide HR with a satisfactory written return to work authorization from the employee’s HCP certifying that the employee is either released to return to work without restrictions or is able to perform all essential functions.

Revision history

Next scheduled review will be on the following date or as needed: 8/5/2022


Issuing Office

Human Resources

Responsible Officer

Vice President for Human Resources

Individuals/offices required for review and changes

Office of the General Counsel

Director of Compensation and Benefits