Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) is a United States federal law requiring larger employers to provide employees job-protected unpaid leave due to a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform his or her job, or to care for a sick family member, or to care for a new child (including by birth, adoption or foster care). The FMLA is administered by the Wage and Hour Division of the Employment Standards Administration of the US Department of Labor.

University FMLA Policy and Procedure

Leave Guides

Eligibility & Entitlements

Eligibility Requirements

Staff members are eligible if they have worked for the University for at least one year, and for 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months.

Basic Leave Entitlement

In accordance with the requirements of the Family and Medical Leave Act, the University of Pittsburgh provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to eligible staff members for the following reasons:

  • For incapacity due to pregnancy, prenatal medical care or child birth;
  • To care for the staff member’s child after birth, or placement for adoption or foster care;
  • To care for the staff member’s spouse, son or daughter, or parent, who has a serious health condition; or
  • For a serious health condition that makes the staff member unable to perform the staff member’s job

Military Family Leave Entitlements

Eligible staff members with a spouse, son, daughter, or parent on active duty or call to active duty status in the National Guard or Reserves in support of a contingency operation may use their 12-week leave entitlement to address certain qualifying exigencies. Qualifying exigencies may include attending certain military events, arranging for alternative childcare, addressing certain financial and legal arrangements, attending certain counseling sessions, and attending post-deployment reintegration briefings.

FMLA also includes a special leave entitlement that permits eligible staff members to take up to 26 weeks of leave to care for a covered service member during a single 12-month period. A covered service member is a current member of the Armed Forces, including a member of the National Guard or Reserves, who has a serious injury or illness incurred in the line of duty on active duty that may render the service member medically unfit to perform his or her duties for which the service member is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy; or is in outpatient status; or is on the temporary disability retired list.

Definitions & Responsibilities

Benefits and Protections

During FMLA leave, the University must maintain the staff member’s health coverage under any “group health plan” on the same terms as if the staff member had continued to work. Upon return from FMLA leave, staff members must be restored to their original or equivalent positions with equivalent pay, benefits, and other employment terms.

Use of FMLA leave cannot result in the loss of any employment benefit that accrued prior to the start of a staff member’s leave.

Definition of Serious Health Condition

A serious health condition is an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves either an overnight stay in a medical care facility, or continuing treatment by a health care provider for a condition that either prevents the staff member from performing the functions of the staff member’s job, or prevents the qualified family member from participating in school or other daily activities.

Subject to certain conditions, the continuing treatment requirement may be met by a period of incapacity of more than 3 consecutive calendar days combined with at least two visits to a health care provider or one visit and a regimen of continuing treatment, or incapacity due to pregnancy, or incapacity due to a chronic condition. Other conditions may meet the definition of continuing treatment.

Staff Member Responsibilities

Staff members must provide 30 days advance notice of the need to take FMLA leave when the need is foreseeable. When 30 days notice is not possible, the staff member must provide notice as soon as practicable and generally must comply with a School or department’s normal call-off procedures.

Staff members must provide sufficient information to the University’s FMLA Third Party Administrator for the University to determine if the leave may qualify for FMLA protection and concerning the anticipated timing and duration of the leave. Sufficient information may include that the staff member is unable to perform job functions, the family member is unable to perform daily activities, the need for hospitalization or continuing treatment by a health care provider, or circumstances supporting the need for military family leave. Staff members also must inform their supervisor if the requested leave is for a reason for which FMLA leave was previously taken or certified. Staff members also may be required to provide a certification and periodic recertification supporting the need for leave.

University Responsibilities

The University must inform staff members requesting leave whether they are eligible under FMLA. If they are, the notice must specify any additional information required as well as the staff members’ rights and responsibilities. If they are not eligible, the University must provide a reason for the ineligibility.

The University must inform staff members if leave will be designated as FMLA-protected and the amount of leave counted against the staff member’s leave entitlement. If the University determines that the leave is not FMLA-protected, the employer must notify the staff member. The University complies with these responsibilities through its third party administrator.

FMLA Requirements

FMLA Administration

The administration of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for University staff members, including Bargaining Unit employees, post doctoral scholars and associates, and research associates, is with the University’s disability carrier MetLife.

Under University policy, if you have been absent for more than three consecutive work days or have a foreseeable need for leave within 30 days you must:

  1. Notify your immediate supervisor or department administrator
  2. Call MetLife at 1-888-777-7418 or select the MetLife MyBenefits link on the Human Resources page at to file for FMLA.


Any employee may file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor or may bring a private lawsuit against an employer.

FMLA does not affect any Federal or State law prohibiting discrimination, or supersede any State or local law or collective bargaining agreement which provides greater family or medical leave rights.

FMLA section 109 (29 U.S.C. § 2619) requires FMLA covered employers to post the text of this notice. Regulations 29 C.F.R. § 825.300(a) may require additional disclosures.

For more detailed information, contact the Office of Human Resources, Employee Relations Department at (412) 624-4645 and review Policy and Procedure ER 09 (formerly, 07-07-02).

Unlawful Acts by Employers

FMLA makes it unlawful for any employer to:

  • Interfere with, restrain, or deny the exercise of any right provided under FMLA;
  • Discharge or discriminate against any person for opposing any practice made unlawful by FMLA or for involvement in any proceeding under or relating to FMLA.

FMLA Leave

Use of Leave

A staff member does not need to use this leave entitlement in one block. Leave can be taken intermittently or on a reduced leave schedule when medically necessary. Staff members must make reasonable efforts to schedule leave for planned medical treatment so as not to unduly disrupt the University’s operations. Leave due to qualifying exigencies may also be taken on an intermittent basis.

Substitution of Paid Leave for Unpaid Leave

The University requires the use of accrued paid leave while taking FMLA leave. Staff members must use up to 60 sick days, and may elect to use vacation days once sick days are exhausted or 60 have been used.

Using the Voluntary Sick Time Donation Bank

Regular staff members who are on an approved medical leave who have fewer than 10 sick days available at the start of the leave will automatically receive time from the Voluntary Sick Time Donation Bank (if hours are available) to bring the employee’s sick balance to 10 days at the start of the leave. The number of days a staff member receives from the Voluntary Sick Time Donation Bank depends on the staff member’s sick balance at the start of the leave.
Employees using Paid Parental leave are not eligible to use time from the Voluntary Sick Time Donation Bank.
A staff member may take no more than 20 days of donated sick time during their career. Donated Sick time will be distributed on a first come, first served basis. Part-time staff are eligible, but their sick time is prorated based on their percentage of effort.

No additional request forms are required in order to apply time from the bank to the employee’s leave.