Family & Medical Leave

Overview

The Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave Act (WFMLA) provide you with the right to take job-protected leave with continued medical benefits when you need time off from work to care for yourself or a family member who is seriously ill, to care for a newborn or newly adopted child, or to attend to the affairs of a family member who is called to active duty in the military.

You may be eligible for more generous leave provisions. Leave taken for FMLA-eligible reasons must run concurrently under FMLA, WFMLA, and other leave provisions available. The leave available under the various provisions is exhausted simultaneously. To understand how the integration of laws with state and university policies affects you, please contact your human resources office.

Applying for FMLA

Once you know you need to take a leave of absence that will be covered by the Wisconsin and/or Federal Family and Medical Leave Acts, you should contact your supervisor and/or human resources department so they can provide you the proper paperwork and determine how much paid leave you have available for use.

Eligibility

In order to be eligible for family and medical leave, you need to work a specific number of hours during the year. For eligibility purposes, all State of Wisconsin agencies, including the University of Wisconsin System are considered one employer.

WFMLA

You must have worked for the State for at least:

  • 52 consecutive weeks; and
  • 1,000 hours during the preceding 52-week period. Paid leave used counts towards the 1,000 worked.

FMLA

You must have worked for the State for at least:

  • 12 months (months do not need to be consecutive); and
  • 1,250 hours during the preceding 12-month period. Only actual hours worked count towards the 1,250 hours.

Eligibility for WFMLA and FMLA is determined by considering all hours worked up to your first day of leave.

Leave Entitlement

Classified Employees: Leave entitlements are based on a calendar year.

Unclassified Faculty, Academic Staff and Limited Appointees: Leave entitlements are based on a fiscal year.

If leave is taken for a child, a child is defined as a son or daughter who is biological, adopted, a foster child, a stepchild, a legal ward or a child of a person standing in loco parentis to the child. If you are in an in loco parentis relationship with a child, this means that you consider yourself to have a parental relationship to a child but you do not have a legal or biological relationship to the child.

WFMLA

Eligible employees are entitled to:

  • Up to six weeks in a calendar for the birth or adoption of a child, to begin within 16 weeks of the birth or placement of that child (no more than one 6-week period per child).
  • Up to two weeks in a calendar year to care for a child, spouse, domestic partner, or parent (including parents of your spouse or domestic partner) with a serious health condition.
  • Up to two weeks in a calendar year for your own serious health condition.

FMLA

Eligible employees are entitled to:

  • Up to twelve weeks of leave in a calendar year for:
    • the birth of a child and to care for the newborn child within one year of birth (no more than one 12-week period per child);
    • the placement of a child for adoption or foster care with the employee and to care for the newly placed child within one year of placement (no more than one 12-week period per child);
    • to care for the employee’s spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition;
    • a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job;
    • any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter or parent is a member of the active or reserve component of the Armed Forces and is on covered active duty or has been notified of a call to active duty in a foreign country or international waters; or
  • Up to twenty-six weeks of leave during a single 12-month period to care for a current military servicemember or eligible veteran* with a serious injury or illness if the employee is the servicemember’s or veteran’s spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin (military caregiver leave).
    • Leave provisions to care for an injured or ill military service member are based on a rolling 12 month schedule.
    • In order to be eligible to take a FMLA-covered leave to care for a veteran, the veteran must have been honorably discharged within the 5-year period before the family member first takes military caregiver leave.

Intermittent Leave

An employee may take WFLMA or FMLA on a intermittent or reduced schedule basis. Only the amount of leave actually taken will count against leave entitlements. Contact your human resources or benefits office for more information.

Substitution of Paid Leave

You may choose to take your W/FMLA leave as paid or unpaid. Your benefits and continuous service will be uninterrupted regardless of whether or not you take your W/FMLA paid or unpaid. If you take your W/FMLA as unpaid, you will still be responsible for the employee share of your premiums.

WFMLA

Under WFMLA, you may elect to substitute any type of paid leave (e.g. vacation, sick leave or personal holiday), even if you are typically not allowed to use that type of leave.

Example – under WFMLA, a parent can use six weeks of any type of paid leave, including sick leave, due to the birth of child. This is not a valid reason to use sick leave per UW policy, but since the leave is covered by WFMLA, you can use sick leave for this reason.

FMLA

Under FMLA, you may elect to substitute paid leave only per the rules governing that type of leave. Any type of paid leave, except sick leave, can be used at any time during a FMLA leave. Sick leave may only be used per UW policy under FMLA.

When WFMLA and FMLA run concurrently, you may follow the leave substitutions provisions under WFMLA.

Example – an employee may not use sick leave to care for a new child under FMLA. However, if the employee qualifies for WFMLA and FMLA at the same time, the employee may use sick leave to care for a new child under the provisions of WFMLA.

Forms and Publications