Family Leave provides a leave of absence for an employee to care for a family member with a serious health condition or due to a qualifying exigency arising out of a family member’s active duty or impending call to active duty in the Armed Forces.
- Administrative and Support staff in regular or term positions, full-time and part-time with no minimum hours, are eligible for Family Leave.
- Faculty in non-visiting or visiting positions, full-time and part-time with no minimum appointment FTE, are eligible for Family Leave.
- Temporary staff are eligible for Family Leave if they meet the Financial Eligibility Test. (Effective 7/1/21)
- Unemployed Former Employees are eligible for Family Leave if the leave begins within 26 weeks after separation of employment from the college and they met the Financial Eligibility Test at the time of their separation of employment. (Effective 7/1/21)
- Financial Eligibility Test: Over the past 12 months, a temporary or former employee must have received total wages that are equal to or exceed 30 times the weekly benefit amount and are not less than $5,100.
- All categories of staff will be referred to as “employees” in this policy.
- In the event that two employees at Williams request leave to care for the same individual, both are eligible to take Family Leave.
- Family Leave provides a maximum of twelve weeks of leave in a benefits year to care for a family member with a serious health condition, or due to a qualifying exigency arising out of a family member’s active duty or impending call to active duty in the Armed Forces. (A benefit year is defined as the period of 52 consecutive weeks beginning on the Sunday immediately preceding the first day that job-protected leave commences.)
- Family Leave is expanded to a maximum of twenty-six weeks in a benefits year if the family member is a covered servicemember, defined as a current or former member of the Armed Forces, including a member of the National Guard or Reserves, with a serious health condition incurred in the line of duty (or aggravated by service).
- Family Leave may be taken intermittently or on a reduced schedule, with a prorated reduction in the employee’s leave allotment and prorated benefits, if the health care provider determines it is medically necessary.
- Faculty have the option of being released from all or part of their teaching and administrative duties during their Family Leave. A partial release will be treated as a reduced schedule as above.
- Family Member is defined as those having the following relationship to the employee:
- Spouse or Domestic Partner
- Parent (including a person who stood in loco parentis to the employee when they were a minor child)
- Parent of a Spouse or Domestic Partner
- For Administrative and Support staff, Family Leave provides 100% of an employee’s base pay.
- For Faculty, Family Leave provides 100% of an employee’s base pay.
- For Temporary and Former Employees, Family Leave provides 80% of an employee’s average weekly wage up to a maximum benefit amount set by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (64% of the state average weekly wage). (Average weekly wage is determined by the employee’s average earnings in the last four completed calendar quarters immediately preceding the starting date of the leave.) The weekly benefit amount shall be reduced by the amount that an employee receives for that period from unemployment benefits or workers’ compensation.
The college provides this leave benefit at no cost to the employee.
Family Leave has a seven calendar day waiting period for benefits. During the first seven calendar days, an employee may use earned vacation and/or personal time. Earned sick leave may also be used during this time to care for certain family members: the employee’s child, spouse, parent, or parent of a spouse. Where the leave involves an intermittent or reduced leave schedule, the waiting period shall be seven consecutive calendar days, not the aggregate accumulation of seven days of leave.
For Faculty, Family Leave has no waiting period for benefits, as vacation, sick and personal leave are not applicable.
Leave Requests and Medical Authorization
A request for a leave of absence should be made as soon as possible when an employee anticipates the need for leave. Employees should contact the leave administration vendor to review options and initiate the leave.
Staff planning to take leave should discuss their leave plans with their supervisor. Faculty planning to take leave should discuss their leave plans with the Dean of the Faculty’s Office to determine when additional teaching resources may be needed to cover for the Faculty member who is on leave.
Medical authorization, proof of family relationship, and, where applicable, military duty information, is required at the onset of the leave and must be submitted to the leave administration vendor. Employees are expected to cooperate fully with requests for additional information regarding the nature of the family member’s serious health condition or active military duty. Should information on the nature of the illness or prognosis be needed, the leave administration vendor, on behalf of the college, will contact the family member’s physician for information once they sign a medical release. The information sought will be strictly related to leave eligibility, and the confidentiality and privacy of the information will be maintained.
Benefits Continuation and Service
Most benefits will continue during the duration of the leave, including employer contributions toward insurance benefits. The employee portion of the insurance benefits shall continue to be remitted by the employee. However, paid vacation, sick, personal and holidays will not be earned during the period of the leave. Family Leave is not regarded as a break in service.
A current employee who has taken Family Leave shall, upon returning to employment at the end of the 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 is not required to restore a temporary employee who was hired for a specific term or only to perform work on a discrete project if the employment term or project is over and the college would not otherwise have continued to employ the employee. The college is also not required to restore an employee 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.
Upon reinstatement, having taken Family Leave shall not affect an employee’s right to accrue vacation time, sick leave, bonuses, advancement, seniority, length-of-service credit, or other employment benefits, plans, or programs.
Non-Discrimination and Non-Retaliation
The college will not threaten to retaliate or actually retaliate by discharging, firing, suspending, expelling, disciplining, threatening, or in any other manner discriminating against an employee for utilizing the Family Leave benefit.
Concurrent Policies and Laws
- Employees are eligible for up to a total of 26 weeks of Short-Term Disability, Parental and Family Leave in a benefit year. A benefit year is defined as the period of 52 consecutive weeks beginning on the Sunday immediately preceding the first day that job-protected leave commences.
- All presumptions shall be made in favor of the availability of leave and the payment of leave benefits. If your leave claim is denied by the leave administrator, you will have 180 days to appeal to them in writing. In your letter, you should include a specific explanation of why you disagree with the claim decision. All appeals are reviewed and evaluated by an independent team of claim professionals who are given access to all original claim information. Decisions to reverse or uphold the original claim decision, or to require additional investigation, are typically made within 45 days of the appeal. An eligible employee whose appeal to the plan administrator is denied may appeal to the Massachusetts Department of Family and Medical Leave pursuant to 458 CMR 2.07(6)(a), 458 CMR 2.14, and M.G.L. c. 175M, § 8(d).
- Family Leave shall run concurrently with leave taken under other applicable state and federal laws when the leave is for a qualifying reason under those acts.
- Any ambiguities in this policy shall be interpreted in accordance with the Massachusetts Family and Medical Leave law, M.G.L. c. 175M, and its implementing regulations.