Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

FMLA Definitions and Employee Responsibilities

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides eligible employees with up to 12 workweeks or 480 hours of job-protected, unpaid time off work per 12-month period starting the first day that FMLA leave is used, for qualifying medical and family reasons. While FMLA leave itself is unpaid, employees who have accrued paid leave have the choice to use their paid leave or take leave without pay while on FMLA. Leave may be taken as a block, intermittently, or a combination of the two.

  • What is FMLA?

    A federal mandate that grants employees unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons and assures continuation of provided insurance coverage. To remain in pay status, appropriate use of sick leave, vacation leave, comp time or personal holiday must be requested and approved. Eligible employees are entitled to:

    1. Twelve workweeks of leave in a 12-month period for:
      • the birth of a child and to care for the newborn child within one year of birth;
      • the placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care and to care for the newly placed child within one year of placement;
      • 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 (also see Workplace Accommodation);
      • any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee's spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a covered military member on "covered active duty;" or;
    2. Twenty-six workweeks of leave during a single 12-month period to care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness if the eligible employee is the servicemember's spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin (military caregiver leave).

    FMLA Policy

    View Employee Rights Under FMLA (PDF) Poster by the Department of Labor

  • How do I know if I'm eligible for FMLA?

    An employee who, on the date on which any FMLA leave is to commence:

    1. has been employed for a total of at least 12 months by the employer (need not be consecutive), and
    2. has worked for at least 1250 hours of service during the previous 12 months.

    Your eligibility will be verified in the HR system when we receive your request.

  • How do I request FMLA?

    Classified/Exempt Employee:

    • Notify HR of need for time away from work. Provide 30-day advance notice if the leave is foreseeable and such notice is practicable.
    • Submit FMLA Request Form to HR.
    • Meet with an HR Leave Specialist to review other required forms and process overall, (509) 963-1202.
    • Submit completed Medical Certification of Qualifying Health Condition (PDF) as soon as possible.
    • Before your leave starts talk to your supervisor about
      • your anticipated leave duration;
      • when you are expected check-in if your leave is to last more than a week; and
      • anticipated work restrictions on your return to work (if leave is for your own medical condition)
    • While on leave
      • submit your time correctly in MyCWU;
      • respond to inquiries from HR; and
      • notify HR of change in medical condition, change of address, and date of baby's birth (or placement) for parental leaves.


    FMLA requires 30 days advance notice of your need for an FMLA absence or as soon as possible if you (or your family member) have an emerging/emergency health issue.

    • Meet with an HR FMLA Leave Specialist in advance of beginning your leave (if possible) to review forms and processes to ensure you understand your rights and responsibilities under FMLA.
    • There are 3 forms that faculty must complete, preferably prior to starting leave:
      • Fill out a Faculty Absence Request form (PDF) and submit to your Chair for signature. Your Dean's signature is also required.
      • Submit a completed online FMLA Request form to HR.
      • Receipt of a complete Medical Certification form. You complete Section 1 of the Medical Certification form. Your medical provider completes Section 2 and faxes it back to HR. A medical certification form is required.
    • Understand that, per the faculty CBA, faculty members are required to provide the university with as much notice as possible of their need to take FMLA (Article 18). FMLA regulations require 30 days notice or as soon as possible.
    • You must make reasonable attempts to schedule absences for times that are the least disruptive to your department's operations (Article 17).

    For more information about planning for your leave and return to work, see the Supervisor’s Guide to Employee Return to Work.

  • What do I need to do while I'm on leave?

    Communicate. Maintain regular contact with your Supervisor/Appointing Authority regarding your absences and projected return date. Weekly contact is recommended, but this is between you and your supervisor.

    Submit your time. It is your responsibility to ensure all of your FMLA absences are CORRECTLY flagged and submitted through MyCWU each pay period. Either you or your supervisor may enter your time.

    Respond to inquiries from HR. Depending on the nature of your health condition and duration of your leave, you may be required to provide updates from your health care provider.

  • How do I report my leave as FMLA?

    Classified/Exempt Employee: Any absences related to your FMLA condition must be flagged as an FMLA Absence Reason for auditing purposes. You may enter known leave in advance, one pay period at a time.

    • Logon via MyCWU;
    • Click the Employee Tab at the top of the screen; click on the Report Time icon in the left margin; then on Request Absence.
    • Enter the leave type you want to use, e.g., sick leave, vacation, personal holiday or leave without pay.
    • Select FMLA Absence for the Reason.
    Example of entering leave absence
    • Enter start date and end date, including any partial days.
    • In the Comments section, please note FMLA absence.
    • Click Check Eligibility.
    • When you get confirmation, click Submit.
    • For assistance entering your leave, contact Payroll Office (509) 963-2221.
    • For questions about leave, FMLA, shared leave, or related concerns, please contact HR (509) 963-1202.


    • All Faculty Absence Request forms should be approved before your leave begins, if possible.
      • In an emergency, if you are not able to complete a Faculty Absence Form, your supervisor may do so for you. You will need to sign it as soon as possible.
    • Eligibility for paid leave:

    The CBA (Article 17) determines the paid leave, unpaid leave, and the duration of leave your eligible for based on your faculty status and contract.

    • NTT on quarterly contract are eligible for:
      • Up to two weeks of paid sick leave. Any leave beyond two weeks is unpaid and may result in termination of the contract.
    • FT NTT on annual or multi-annual contract/Tenured/Tenure Track are eligible for:
      • Up to two weeks of paid sick leave.
    • Short term disability leave as follows:
      • FT NTT with annual or multi-annual contracts may be entitled to 10 workweeks or until the end of the contract year in which the disability occurs, whichever is shorter.
      • Probationary faculty may be entitled to 10 workweeks or until the end of the academic year in which the disability occurs, whichever is shorter.
      • Tenured may be eligible for 10 workweeks during any academic year.
    • Any additional unpaid leave beyond the paid short-term disability leave requires the Dean's approval.
    • If FMLA is for your serious health condition, you must submit to HR a completed Return to Work Release form from your medical provider before returning to work.
  • What should I do when I am ready to return to work?
    1. If the leave is for your own serious condition, submit a Return to Work Release (PDF) completed by your medical provider prior to returning to work. If you return to work with restrictions, you may be asked to provide another Return to Work Release when you are cleared to return to full duty with no restrictions. NOTE: Before you can return to work, including light duty or work from home, it is your responsibility to ensure HR has received updated information releasing you to return to work. Failure to ensure updated information has been received will delay your return to work.
    2. If the leave is for a family member, you do not need a release to return to work, but you must notify your supervisor and HR of your planned return date.

    The department that granted the leave is responsible for ensuring that timely placement occurs when leave is completed. The employee will normally be returned to the last job held or, if necessary, to an equivalent position, unless one of the following conditions applies:

    • Employee's return creates or is affected by a layoff situation.
    • Medical restriction precludes placement.
  • What happens with my health insurance?

    The employer portion of health insurance coverage will continue while on approved FMLA. You are responsible for paying your regular monthly premium by:

    Submitting sufficient hours of paid leave to cover this expense each pay period. The number of paid hours needed will be calculated for you and listed on your designation letter.


    Submitting a check to Payroll to cover the cost of your premium. Contact HR at (509) 963-1202 for amount due.

    If FMLA hours are exhausted and you have not yet returned to work, you may be responsible for the full cost of benefits including the employer portion. Contact HR at (509) 963-1202 for additional information.

  • Definitions

    Serious Health Condition:

    According to the Department of Labor, a "Serious health condition" means an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves:

    • any period of incapacity or treatment connected with inpatient care (i.e., an overnight stay) in a hospital, hospice, or residential medical care facility; or
    • a period of incapacity requiring absence of more than three calendar days from work, school, or other regular daily activities that also involves continuing treatment by (or under the supervision of) a health care provider; or
    • any period of incapacity due to pregnancy, or for prenatal care; or
    • any period of incapacity (or treatment therefore) due to a chronic serious health condition (e.g., asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, etc.); or
    • a period of incapacity that is permanent or long-term due to a condition for which treatment may not be effective (e.g., Alzheimer's, stroke, terminal diseases, etc.); or,
    • any absences to receive multiple treatments (including any period of recovery therefrom) by, or on referral by, a health care provider for a condition that likely would result in incapacity of more than three consecutive days if left untreated (e.g., chemotherapy, physical therapy, dialysis, etc.).

    12-Month Period:

    Any rolling 12-month period in which an eligible employee is entitled to leave.


    A husband or wife as defined or recognized under State law.


    Biological, adopted, or foster child; a stepchild, a legal ward, or a child of a person standing in loco parentis, who is under 18 years of age or 18 years of age or older and incapable of self-care because of a mental or physical disability.


    Biological, adoptive, stepparent or an individual who stands/stood in loco parentis to an employee.

CWU News

CWU Women’s History Month Film Series to begin March 5

February 28, 2024


CWU Capital Planning and Projects director appointed to Ellensburg City Council

February 28, 2024


More News