Leave – FMLA

The following is a brief outline of Eastern Washington University’s FMLA policy.  For a comprehensive overview of FMLA please see: EWU FMLA Policy.   The Family and Medical Leave Act is a federal law originally enacted in 1993 that requires covered employers, including Eastern Washington University, to provide up to 12 weeks during a “leave year” of unpaid, job protected leave to eligible employees for specified family and medical reasons.

EWU measures the 12 month leave year period forward from the date the requesting employee’s first FMLA leave begins.

Who Is Covered?

To be eligible for FMLA benefits an employee must meet all of the following requirements:

  • Worked 12 months and 1,250 hours for the State of Washington prior to start of FMLA leave
  • Have a balance of FMLA leave entitlement

Allowed Reasons for Leave

EWU will grant an eligible employee up to a total of 12 workweeks of unpaid job and benefit protected leave during a leave year for one or more of the following reasons:

  • Birth of a child and to bond with newborn child within one year of birth, adoption or foster placement
  • The employee is unable to work because of their own serious health condition
  • Workers’ Compensation
  • To care for an immediate family member (spouse, child if under age of 18 or if over 18 and incapable of self-care due to a disability, parent) with a serious health condition
  • 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.

In addition, eligible employees may take up to 26 workweeks of leave in a single 12-month period to care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness if the employee is the spouse, son, daughter, parent or next of kin of the servicemember (referred to as military caregiver leave).

What is a serious health condition under FMLA?

An illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves either:

  1. Inpatient care including period of incapacity or subsequent treatment; or
  2. Continuing treatment by a health care provider. This includes any one or more of the following:

1.) Period of incapacity of more than three (3) consecutive full calendar days and any subsequent treatment or incapacity that relates to the same condition that also involves:

  • Treatment two (2) or more times within 30 days of the first day of incapacity (absent extenuating circumstances) by health care provider etc., or
  • Treatment by health care provider at least once and continuing treatment under the supervision of health care provider. This requirement means an in person visit to a health care provider. The first (or only) visit must occur within seven (7) days of the first day of incapacity.

2.) Incapacity due to pregnancy or prenatal care

3.) Incapacity due to chronic serious health condition. Chronic serious health condition is one which:

  • Requires periodic visits (at least twice per year) to health care provider;
  • Continues over extended period;
  • May cause episodic rather than continuing incapacity (asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, etc.).
  • Incapacity which is permanent or long term where treatment may not be effective. (Alzheimer’s, severe stroke, terminal stages of a disease, etc.)
  • Absence to receive multiple treatments for restorative surgery after accident, or for a condition that would result in incapacity for three (3) consecutive full calendar days or more absent medical intervention (cancer, kidney disease, etc.)

A serious health condition is not intended to cover short-term conditions for which treatment and recovery are very brief, such as the common cold, influenza, earaches, upset stomach, headaches (other than migraines) and/or routine dental or orthodontia problems. Each request for FMLA is reviewed by the Benefits Office to determine if the condition qualifies for FMLA.

Intermittent Leave under FMLA

Intermittent FMLA refers to leave that is taken in separate blocks of time.  This can be leave taken in non-sequential days or in less than a complete workday.  Intermittent FMLA will be granted if medically necessary for an eligible employee’s own serious health condition, to care for a family member with a serious health condition or to care for a covered service member with a serious injury or illness.

For the birth, adoption or placement of a child, employees may take intermittent FMLA if agreed to by their supervisor.  This may be a reduced schedule working fewer hours per day or fewer hours per week.  Intermittent leave for this purpose must be used within one year of date of birth or placement.

Medical appointments:  Employees must give notice to their supervisor of the need for FMLA for medical appointments as soon as practicable.  Subject to the approval of the health care provider, employees must attempt to work out a schedule with their supervisor that meets the need for medical appointments without unduly disrupting the department’s operations.

Paid Leave and Benefits

Eastern Washington University employees may use any combination of paid or unpaid leave to which they are entitled to while on FMLA.

If an employee takes more than 10 days of leave without pay (LWOP) in a calendar month, their leave accruals may be affected.

EWU will maintain group health insurance coverage for an employee on FMLA as long as the employee’s share of the premium is paid every pay period.   To remain eligible for EWU benefits an employee must use at least eight (8) hours of their paid time each month that they are on leave.  Often, an employee must use more than 8 hours per month to maintain all their current EWU benefits.  Employees are encouraged to work with the Benefits Office to confirm the number of paid hours that an employee must use each pay period in order to maintain their EWU benefits.  If an employee exhausts all their paid leave they must make arrangements with the Payroll Office to pay their portion of benefit costs upon their return to work after FMLA leave.


If an employee is expecting a new child (either by birth or placement) or taking foreseeable medical leave, the employee should provide at least 30 days notice to their supervisor and to the Benefits Office.   If the leave must begin in less than 30 days, the employee must provide as much notice as practicable to their supervisor and the Benefits Office.

  1. Contact the Benefits Office and complete the EWU leave of absence request form: EWU LOA Request Form. You do not need to share your diagnosis or any other medical information, however, you must always provide the dates that you will be away from work, along with any work restrictions authorized by your health care provider.
  2. Provide the Benefits Office with a Health Care Provider Medical Certification supporting the medical need for leave due to a serious health condition of the employee or employee’s family member is required.
  3. Bring or send leave requests to the Benefits Office; email: mjasmer@ewu.edu or Benefits@ewu.edu. If everything is in order, the Benefits Office will confirm the leave or provisionally approve leave if you do not yet have certification.
  4. You are required to provide medical or other certification within 15 calendar days after such information is requested.
  5. Once all required information has been received by the Benefits Office, employees will receive, within five business days, a letter confirming the details of the leave.

Returning to Work

A medical release to full, part-time, or transitional (modified) duty is required from the health care provider before a return to work after an employee’s serious health condition. If an employee does not submit a release their return to work may be delayed.

FMLA and Worker’s Compensation

Eastern Washington University’s workers’ compensation program serves to provide relief to employees who are injured on the job or who develop an occupational disease. Employees must report work-related injuries and illnesses to their supervisor and complete a university Incident Report within 24 hours. If an on-the-job injury results in an absence from work of more than three (3) days, this may qualify the workers’ compensation leave as a serious health condition under FMLA. Provided the employee is eligible, the workers’ compensation leave will generally run concurrently with the 12 weeks federal FMLA entitlement.