Health at SMU

Leave of Absence and FMLA

SMU offers a variety of leaves to support employees with their life needs.

Adoption Leave

The University will provide paid Adoption Leave to a benefit-eligible staff employee who adopts a child two years (24 months) of age or younger, and is the primary caretaker for the child.  Primary caregivers are eligible for a total of three weeks (15 consecutive work days) of paid leave.  Adoption Leave takes effect when it becomes necessary for an eligible staff member to be away from work as the result of the adoption.

Benefit-eligible staff, including benefit-eligible part-time staff, may request a paid Adoption Leave after one year of service to the University.  During an approved Adoption Leave, a staff member will continue to receive usual wages and elected benefits.  In addition, paid medical leave and vacation leave will continue to accrue while the staff member is on approved Adoption Leave.  

Extended Leave (Unpaid)

May be granted for a variety of reasons such as government service, a full time educational objective, medical leave if an illness extends beyond a staff member's accumulated medical and vacation leave allowances (including the disability portion of maternity).  Upon return, staff member will resume the same position if still available, or another available position at a comparable salary if the staff member is qualified.

All leaves of absence must be approved in writing by

  1. Department Head
  2. Appropriate Vice-President
  3. Human Resources Department  

FMLA Leave

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) grants eligible employees the right to take 12 work weeks of job-protected leave over a rolling 12-month period for the reasons addressed below.  FMLA leave does not eliminate or reduce other University leaves; however, certain leaves must run concurrently with FMLA Leave.

Employees may be eligible for FMLA leave if they have been employed by the University for at least 12 months, (consecutive or non-consecutive,) and have worked at least 1,250 hours (actual hours worked) during the 12-month period preceding the date their leave commences.

Employees are eligible for FMLA Leave for the following reasons:

  • Serious health condition that makes an employee unable to perform one or more of the essential functions of their job, as certified by their health care provider
  • Birth of a child
  • Placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care (including related court appearances, consultations with attorneys, and counseling sessions)
  • Care of a child during the first 12 months following birth or placement
  • Care of a spouse, child, or parent with a serious health condition, as certified by the family member's health care provider.

FMLA does not affect any Federal or State law prohibiting discrimination, or supersede any State or local law, or other SMU leave policy which provides greater family or medical leave rights.

The Department of Labor has produced The Employee's Guide to the Family and Medical Leave Act to provide additional information on FMLA leave.

Maternity Leave

Benefit-eligible female staff may request a paid Maternity Leave after one (1) year of service.  The staff member will receive her usual wages and benefits.  Paid medical leave and vacation leave will continue to accrue while the staff member is on approved Maternity Leave.  A total of six (6) weeks of paid leave for a normal delivery and eight (8) weeks, for a caesarian delivery.  A completed Staff Leave of Absence form with appropriate approvals is required.

Military and Civic Leave

  • Up to two weeks each calendar year to meet military obligations.
  • SMU will pay the difference, if any, between SMU salary and the salary paid by the military.
  • Extended leave of absence may be granted if an individual is required to serve on extended active duty.
  • Up to five paid days of leave annually for the purpose of serving as a juror or trial witness.
    More than five days of service requires individual's department head approval.  

Military Caregiver Leave

Eligible employees who are family members of covered service members will be able to take up to 26 workweeks of leave in a “single 12-month period” to care for a covered service member with a serious illness or injury incurred in the line of duty on active duty.  This 26 work week entitlement is a special provision that extends FMLA job-protected leave beyond the normal 12 weeks of FMLA leave. This provision also extends FMLA protection to additional family members (i.e., next of kin) beyond those who may take FMLA leave for other qualifying reasons.  

Paid Medical Leave

Medical Leave may be used for:

  • Illness or injury of staff member, spouse, dependent children, or parents
  • Occupational injury
  • Death in immediate family

One paid day of Medical Leave is accrued for each month of employment and may be used after six months of employment.  Unused days may be accumulated to a maximum of 90 work days. Under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 you must use accrued time.

Part-time and partial year employees accrue prorated leave according to scheduled hours. 

Qualifying Exigency Leave

The second new military leave entitlement helps families of members of the National Guard and Reserves manage their affairs while the member is on active duty in support of a contingency operation. This provision makes the normal 12 workweeks of FMLA job-protected leave available to eligible employees with a covered military member serving in the National Guard or Reserves to use for “any qualifying exigency” arising out of the fact that a covered military member is on active duty or called to active duty status in support of a contingency operation.

 “Qualifying exigency” refers to a number of broad categories for which employees can use FMLA leave:

  • Short-notice deployment;
  • Military events and related activities;
  • Childcare and school activities;
  • Financial and legal arrangements;
  • Counseling;
  • Rest and recuperation;
  • Post-deployment activities; and
  • Additional activities not encompassed in the other categories, but agreed to by the employer and employee.

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