5404 Family, Maternity and Military Caregiver Leave

  • Every employee of the district who has worked for the district at least one year and for at least 1,250 hours in the preceding year is entitled to twelve (12) workweeks of family leave during any twelve (12) month period to: 

    1. Care for a newborn child, an adopted child of the employee who is under the age of eighteen at the time of placement for adoption, or a newly placed foster child; or
    2. Care for a spouse, parent or child of the employee who has a serious health condition, or the employee may obtain leave for a personal health condition if it renders the employee unable to perform their job.
    3. Respond to a qualifying exigency occurring because the employee’s spouse, son or daughter, or parent is on active duty or has been notified of pending active duty in support of a contingency operation.

    Leave taken for newborn or adopted child care will be completed within one year after the date of birth or placement for adoption. Family leave authorized under this policy must be taken full-time and consecutively unless an alternative schedule is approved by the superintendent or where intermittent or reduced leave is medically necessary.  Instructional staff may not take reduced or intermittent leave when it would constitute 20% of the number of working days in the period during which the leave would extend without the approval of the superintendent.  An instructional employee may be transferred to an alternative equivalent position that would accommodate reduced or intermittent leave, if such a position is available.

    A period of family leave is in addition to any sick leave taken due to the employee's temporary disability attributable to pregnancy or childbirth pursuant to Policy 5402, Maternity Leave.

    If both parents of a newborn or newly adopted child are employed by the school district, they will be entitled to a total of twelve workweeks of family leave during any twelve month period, and leave will be granted to only one parent at a time. There is no pooling effect for spouses if the family leave is related to a serious health condition.

    The superintendent may require written verification from the employee's health care provider.

    The district may obtain the opinion of a second health care provider, at district expense, concerning any information pertinent to the employee's leave request. If the opinions of the health care providers differ on any matter determinative of the employee's eligibility for family leave, the two health care providers will select a third provider, whose opinion, obtained at the employer's expense, will be conclusive.

    A staff member may use accumulated, paid sick leave for the period of actual disability attributable to pregnancy or childbirth. This period will extend from the date of birth for a period of not more than 60 days, unless an actual period of disability which begins prior to the date of birth or continues beyond 60 days is otherwise verified in writing by the employee’s physician.

    If the employee’s accumulated sick leave is exhausted during the period of maternity, the district will grant a leave of absence without pay or fringe benefits, upon the staff member’s request, for the remainder of the period of actual disability due to pregnancy or childbirth.

    During any unpaid portion of such leave of absence, the staff member may pay the premiums for any district insurance plans to keep coverage in effect for the employee and their family. 

        A.  Notice Required

    A pregnant staff member is requested to notify their immediate supervisor and the superintendent by the beginning of the fifth month of pregnancy.

    At the time of such notice the staff member will submit a written request to her immediate supervisor and the superintendent for one or more of the following: 

    1. Maternity leave for the period of their actual disability due to pregnancy or childbirth;
    2. Family leave for a period of up to 12 weeks, in addition to any period of maternity disability leave, the district will extend the employee’s health benefit during this period of unpaid leave;
    3. Leave of absence for a period of up to the beginning of the next school term or school year. Such extended leave of absence may be approved at the discretion of the superintendent based upon consideration of educational program needs and the desires of the staff member, together with the recommendation of their personal physician or licensed practitioner; or
    4. Termination of employment by resignation.

    The notice to the district will include the approximate beginning and ending dates for the leave.

        B.  Employment Conditions

    A pregnant staff member may continue working as long as they are capable of performing their normal duties, with the written approval of their physician or licensed practitioner. The staff member may return to work when physically able to perform their duties. If the employee intends to return to work within 60 days of childbirth, her personal physician or licensed practitioner must certify that the staff member is in good health and ready to resume their duties.  

    No later than 30 days after the date of birth, the staff member is requested to notify the superintendent of the specific date when they will return to work. Unless the superintendent approves an earlier date of return, the employee will give at least 14 days advance notice of the actual date of return.

    The staff member will return to their duties following an extended leave of absence on the date approved by the superintendent. If the employee is still experiencing a disability due to pregnancy, miscarriage, abortion, childbirth or recovery which prevents the employee from performing their duties on the scheduled date of return, an additional period of unpaid leave of absence may be approved at the discretion of the superintendent based upon consideration of educational program needs and the recommendation of the employee’s personal physician or licensed practitioner.

      C.  Assignment upon Return

    An employee who has taken a leave of absence only for the actual period of disability relating to pregnancy or childbirth or up to twelve weeks of family leave will return to the same assignment, or a similar position for which they are qualified with at least the same pay and benefits, as they held prior to the maternity leave or family leave.

    Upon return from an extended maternity leave, a staff member will be entitled to a position in the district subject to the availability of a position for which they are qualified. An effort will be made to place the staff member in their original position or in a comparable position.

    Military Caregiver Leave

    An employee who is the spouse, son or daughter, parent or next of kin of a service member who is recovering from a serious illness or injury sustained while on active duty is entitled to twenty six (26) weeks of unpaid leave in a 12 month period to care for the service member.

    Return to Work

    Any employee returning from an authorized family leave will be entitled to the same position held by the employee when the leave commenced, or to a position with equivalent benefits and pay.

    Reinstatement of an employee returning from family leave need not occur if: a) the specific job is eliminated by a bona fide restructuring, or a reduction-in-force resulting from lack of funds or lack of work, b) an employee on family leave takes a position with another employer outside the home, or c) the employee fails to provide the required notice of intent to take family leave or fails to return on the established ending date of leave. If an employee fails to return from family leave, the district may recover the costs of the employee's health benefits paid during the leave.  Instructional staff may be required to delay their return from family leave to the beginning of the next semester under the following circumstances:

    1. The employee began leave five or more weeks before the end of the semester, the leave is for more than three weeks, and the employee would otherwise return to work within three weeks of the end of the semester.
    2. The employee began family leave (except for a personal health condition) less than five weeks before the end of the semester, the leave is for more than two weeks, and the employee would otherwise return to work within two weeks of the end of the semester.
    3. The employee began family leave (except for a personal health condition) three or fewer weeks before the end of the semester and the period of leave is more than five working days.

    Cross References: 
    Board Policy 5021        Applicability of Personnel Policies

    Legal References:
    RCW 28A.400.300         Hiring and discharging of employees – Written leave policies – Seniority and leave benefits of employees transferring between school districts and other educational employers
    Ch. 49.78 RCW               Family Leave
    WAC 162-30-020           Pregnancy, childbirth, and pregnancy related conditions
    USC Sec 2601                Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993

    Management Resources:  
    Policy News, October 2011       Policy Manual Revisions
    Policy News, April 2009              Military Leave

    ADOPTED: 09/24/98
    REVISED: 05/23/02; 06/23/09; 02/23/12

    Procedure No. 5404P Family, Maternity and Military Caregiver Leave

    The district may require the employee to use their accrued paid leave as part of family and medical leave.  Health benefits provided under any medical plan will be continued for the duration of the family and medical leave at the level and under the conditions that coverage would have been provided if the employee had continued in employment during the leave.

    Family and Medical Leave will run concurrently with any leaves employees have beginning the first day of their absence due to this issue.  Pursuant to federal and state law, all district-paid benefits are to be reimbursed to the district if the employee does not return after FMLA or leave of absence.  Failure to return to work for reasons other than the continuation, recurrence, or onset of a serious health condition or circumstances beyond the control of the employee will qualify for reimbursement of district paid benefits. 

    Yelm Community Schools defines the leave year as a rolling 12-month period measured backward from the date on which the employee uses any FMLA leave.

    An employee who returns to work for at least 30 calendar days is considered to have "returned" to work. An employee who transfers directly from taking FMLA leave to retirement, or who retires during the first 30 days after the employee returns to work, is deemed to have returned to work.

    When an employee fails to return to work, any health and non-health benefit premiums which this section of the regulations permits an employer to recover are a debt owed by the non-returning employee to the employer.

    ADOPTED: 06/23/09

5000 Policies