Effective Date: September 8, 2022
Last Reviewed: September 8, 2022


Introduction

This Policy explains Stonehill College’s compliance with the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act, 29 U.S.C. et seq. (“FMLA”) and the Massachusetts Family and Medical Leave Act, M.G.L. 175M and its implementing regulations 458 CMR 2.00 (“MA FMLA”) and the application and interaction of the FMLA and MA FMLA with Stonehill College policies.

This Policy should at all times be interpreted consistent with the requirements of Policy E3.25 Vacation Time, E3.26 Sick Time, and E3.27 Parental Leave. If there is a conflict between this Policy or any other Stonehill College policy and the FMLA or the MA FMLA, this Policy shall always be interpreted consistent with the requirements of the FMLA and MA FMLA to the extent necessary to ensure compliance with the law. The College’s collective bargaining members are governed by certain Collective Bargaining Agreements (“CBA”). To the extent that the FMLA and MA FMLA extend benefits and working conditions beyond those contained in a CBA, the FMLA and MA FMLA shall apply. To the extent the CBA exceeds the requirements of the FMLA and MA FMLA, the CBA shall apply.

To the full extent required under the law, this Policy shall at all times maintain a presumption in favor of the availability of leave and the payment of leave benefits for the covered employee.

Consistent with 29 CFR 825.701, nothing in the FMLA supersedes any provision of the MA FMLA that provides greater family or medical leave rights than those provided by the FMLA. If an employee’s absence qualifies for FMLA leave and MA FMLA leave, the leave counts against the employee’s entitlement under both laws. If the leave qualifies under MA FMLA but not the FMLA, it does not count against the employee’s FMLA entitlement. The Office of Human Resources shall notify employees at the time of a request as to whether MA FMLA, FMLA, or both apply to their leave request. Consistent with the law, qualified leave under the MA FMLA shall run concurrently with leave under the FMLA (if also qualified under the FMLA) and with the eight weeks of leave for childbirth and adoption under the Massachusetts Parental Leave law.

All employees, including full-time, part-time, permanent, and temporary employees, shall be eligible for the benefits described in this Policy. Consistent with the law, benefits may be adjusted or prorated based on the employee’s status and actual, eligible earned wages.

Stonehill College will not discriminate nor retaliate against any employee who exercises their rights under the FMLA or MA FMLA. This Policy shall at all times be interpreted to grant covered employees the job protections they are entitled to under the FMLA and the MA FMLA.

Employee Rights and Obligations

Under the FMLA and/or the MA FMLA employees have the following rights and responsibilities:

1. Employees must provide notice of their need for leave to the Stonehill College Office of Human Resources.

a. Such notice should comply with College policies for requests of time off or, for collective bargaining members, in compliance with the applicable CBA, unless emergency circumstances exist which make compliance impractical. Thirty days advance notice, whenever foreseeable, is expected.

b. Notice can be provided verbally or in writing (including by email from a Stonehill College email account). The Office of Human Resources will notify an employee if additional notice or documentation requirements are necessary.

c. The employee must provide enough information for the College to determine that the employee is requesting a leave under the law and, when possible, the employee should indicate how much leave is needed. The reason for the leave and the expected return to work date should be provided whenever possible.

d. Appropriate medical documentation is required for a leave based on a serious health condition. Such documentation should be provided within 15 days of the College’s request for the documentation. All such documentation shall be retained by the Office of Human Resources consistent with the College’s privacy, data security, and document retention policies. Failure to provide reasonable, sufficient documentation may result in a denial of a leave request.

e. The College may request reasonable recertification and medical documentation when necessary. The College reserves the right to request an independent medical evaluation at its own cost and may require a return to work evaluation by a physician of the College’s choice to verify an employee’s ability to perform their job.

2. Employees who are determined eligible for leave shall be provided a written notice informing them of their eligibility within five days of the initial request for leave. An employee who is determined ineligible for leave shall also be provided written notice which includes the reason why the employee is not eligible.

3. An employee who has taken leave under this policy shall, on returning to employment at the close of a period of approved leave, be restored to the employee’s previous position or to an equivalent position, with the same status, pay, employment benefits, length-of-service credit and seniority as of the date of leave. The College shall not be required to restore an employee who has taken said leave to the previous or to an equivalent position if other employees of equal length of service credit and status in the same or equivalent positions have been laid off due to economic conditions or other changes in operating conditions affecting employment during the period of leave; provided, however, that the employee who has taken leave shall retain any preferential consideration for another position to which the employee was entitled as of the date of leave. Failure to return from a leave upon the expiration of the applicable leave period, without approval for extension of leave or extension by operation of law, will be considered a voluntary resignation of employment. Consistent with the rights afforded employees herein, the College does retain the right to fill a position based on the operational needs of the College.

 

4. The taking of leave under this Policy shall not affect an employee's right to accrue vacation time, sick leave, bonuses, advancement, seniority, length-of-service credit, or other employment benefits. During the duration of an employee’s leave, the College shall continue to provide for and contribute its share of the employee’s employment-related health insurance benefits, if any, at the level and under the conditions coverage would have been provided if the employee had continued working continuously for the duration of such leave. The employee portion of the employee’s employment-related health insurance benefits shall be remitted by the employee in accordance with Stonehill’s policies or practices. Employees may contact the Office of Human Resources at 508-565-1105 if they have questions concerning procedures for payment of employee contributions.

Covered Employee

For the purposes of this policy under the MA FMLA a covered employee is an employee who meets the definition of “covered individual” under M.G.L. Chapter 175M, Section 1 (as further defined by M.G.L. Chapter 151A, Section 24) and under the FMLA is an employee who meets the definition of “eligible employee” under 29 CFR 825.110. The Office of Human Resources shall post and maintain a current copy of the definition in the Office of Human Resources.

Circumstances that Qualify for Leave

A covered individual shall not take more than 26 weeks in the aggregate of family and medical leave in the same 12-month period (the benefit year). Consistent with the law, the 12-month period shall be measured going forward for 52 weeks from the Sunday immediately preceding the date that a covered individual first used the leave.

Eligible employees may take up to 12 workweeks of leave in a 12-month period for the following qualifying reasons:

1. The birth of a child and to bond with the newborn child within one year of birth.

a. Leave may be taken intermittently or on a reduced leave schedule, by agreement of the employee and the College, for leave to bond with a child during the first twelve months after the child’s birth, adoption, or foster care placement.

2. The placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care and to bond with the newly placed child within one year of placement.

a. Child shall include the definition presented in M.G.L. Chapter 175M, Section 1.

3. Any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a military member on covered active duty or call to covered active duty status. a. Leave may be taken intermittently or on a reduced leave schedule by agreement of the employee and the College.

4. To care for the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, parent or other eligible family member who has a serious health condition, including incapacity due to pregnancy or prenatal medical care.

5. Any other circumstance which qualifies for leave under the FMLA or the MA FMLA.

Eligible employees, under the MA FMLA, may take up to 20 workweeks of leave in a 12-month period for the following qualifying reasons (such leave may be taken intermittently or on a reduced leave schedule if medically necessary):

1. A serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the functions of their job, including incapacity due to pregnancy and for prenatal medical care. A serious health condition is:

a. An illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves

i. inpatient care in a hospital, hospice or residential medical facility; or

ii. continuing treatment by a health care provider.

Eligible employees may take up to 26 workweeks of leave in a 12-month period for the following qualifying reasons (such leave may be taken intermittently or on a reduced leave schedule if medically necessary):

1. To care for a covered service member (as defined by M.G.L. Chapter 175M, Section 1) with a serious injury or illness if the employee is the spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin of the service member.

Benefit Options

Covered employees may choose from the following two options for receipt of benefits under a qualified leave (consistent with the law, an employee will not be required to use accrued time, but may instead choose the benefit option which is most advantageous to their eligible leave needs). Employees have the right to meet with a representative of the Office of Human Resources who will assist in comparing their benefits under Option 1 or Option 2 so that employees may make an informed decision in electing an option. While encouraged, such a meeting is not required in order for an employee to select an option. All benefits shall be calculated based on the employee’s actual, eligible earned wages. The Office of Human Resources shall also publish examples and illustrations of leaves under the two options to assist employees in making an informed decision.

An employee must choose either Option 1 or Option 2 at the time of the leave decision. An employee is not allowed to combine or blend options for the same leave request. An employee is always eligible to choose between the two options for subsequent, unrelated leave requests.

Option 1: Use of Accrued Benefit Time

Covered employees may elect to use their accrued benefit time (sick time and vacation time) to the extent available for a benefit which can equate to up to 100% replacement of wages. Employees must inform the Office of Human Resources of their election of Option 1 in writing.

Option 2: Use of College’s Self-Insured MA FMLA Parity Benefit

This Option is intended to comply with the benefits provided pursuant to M.G.L. 175M, Section 3. If at any time this option fails to meet the minimum requirements of Section 3, the option shall be automatically modified by the College to comply with Section 3. Employees must inform the Office of Human Resources of their election of Option 2 in writing.

Under Option 2, a covered employee may elect a weekly benefit amount determined as follows:

1. The portion of the covered individual’s average weekly wage that is equal to or less than 50 per cent of the state average weekly wage shall be replaced at a rate of 80 per cent; and

2. The portion of the covered individual’s average weekly wage that is more than 50 per cent of the state average weekly wage shall be replaced at a rate of 50 per cent. For purposes of this calculation, a covered employee’s average weekly wage shall include only those wages or payments subject to the contribution requirements explained in M.G.L. 175M, Section 6.

3. The maximum weekly benefit amount calculated shall be not more than the maximum rate specified under the MA FMLA (64 per cent of the state average weekly wage; for 2022, the new state average weekly wage is $1,694.24 and the new maximum weekly benefit rate is $1,084.31). Consistent with the MA FMLA, the weekly benefit amount may be reduced based on other applicable wage replacement benefits being received by the employee.

4. For a covered employee who takes leave on an intermittent or reduced leave schedule, the weekly benefit amount shall be prorated.

5. Under this Option, no leave benefits shall be payable during the first 7 calendar days of such leave; provided, however, that a covered employee may utilize accrued sick or vacation time or other earned time.

Appeals Process and Employee Notifications

Human Resources shall publish in a conspicuous place in the Office of Human Resources a notice to employees of their right to an appeal process consistent with the requirements of 458 CMR 2.07(2)(c) which shall specifically inform all employees of the employees right to file an appeal with the plan administrator prior to filing an appeal pursuant to 458 CMR 2.07(6)(a) and 458 CMR 2.14 and specifically stating that the appeals process shall not require the employee to submit an appeal less than ten calendar days from the receipt of notice of any determination and that the appeals process allows for the extension of the ten calendar-day filing period where an individual establishes that circumstances beyond the individual's control prevented the filing of a request for an appeal within the prescribed ten-day filing period.

Human Resources shall also ensure that employees receive notice of their rights as part of any adverse determination as well as the rights afforded the employee or covered contract worker pursuant to M.G.L. c. 175M, and 458 CMR 2.00; and for purposes of determining the benefit amount and notice that the leave allotment, the weekly benefit amount, and leave allotment shall be based on the covered individual's average working week in addition to the wages or qualified earnings earned at the time of an application for benefits, to the extent required under the law.

Surety Bond

The Office of the Controller shall ensure that it files each year a surety bond with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as obligee in such form and amount as required by law issued by a surety company authorized to transact business in Massachusetts.