Chapter 3.67
FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE Revised 1/17 Revised 7/18 Revised 5/19

Sections:

3.67.010    Authorization and Implementation. Revised 7/18

3.67.020    Eligibility. Revised 1/17 Revised 7/18

3.67.025    Federal Military Family Leave. Revised 7/18

3.67.030    Payment for Family Leave. Revised 7/18 Revised 5/19

3.67.040    Notification and Certification. Revised 7/18

3.67.050    Discontinuance of Family Leave. Revised 1/17 Revised 7/18

3.67.060    Maintenance of Benefits. Revised 7/18

3.67.070    Restoration of Employment. Revised 1/17 Revised 7/18

3.67.080    Exemptions. Revised 1/17 Revised 7/18

3.67.090    Posting Requirement. Revised 7/18

3.67.100    Severability. Revised 7/18

3.67.010 Authorization and Implementation. Revised 7/18

Family leave is provided to employees as required by and in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 49.78 RCW (hereafter State law) and the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (hereafter FMLA). It is intended that so far as possible, the benefits of each will be applied concurrently except in those instances where State law and FMLA leave provide differing benefits in which case the Human Resources Director shall ensure employees are afforded the full benefits as provided by law. The Human Resources Director shall promulgate implementing Administrative Guidelines as necessary and shall administer the family leave program in accordance with the provisions of each as amended. Definitions will be as found in the State law or FMLA as appropriate. The Human Resources Department shall be responsible to determine employee eligibility based on the date the leave is to commence. In instances where State law and FMLA offer substantially similar benefits/provisions, the FMLA shall prevail. (Ord. 2018-26s § 1 (part), 2018; Ord. 2008-106s § 1 (part), 2008; Ord. 2004-7s § 2 (part), 2004; Ord. 98-123 § 1 (part), 1998)

3.67.020 Eligibility. Revised 1/17 Revised 7/18

Eligibility for family leave shall be as follows:

A.    State Law: To be eligible, employees must have been employed at least 12 months and have worked for at least 1,250 hours of service with the employer during the previous 12- month period.

B.    Federal FMLA: To be eligible, employees must have been employed by Pierce County for at least 12 months and have worked for at least 1,250 hours during the 12-month period preceding the commencement of the leave.

C.    An eligible employee may take up to 12 work weeks of family leave under the following qualifying conditions:

1.    State Law: Twelve work weeks are allowed during any 12-month period (the 12-month period is measured forward from the date the employee's family leave first begins) for the following reasons:

a.    Birth and care for a newborn. Leave for birth must be completed within 12 months of the birth; or

b.    Placement of an adopted child or foster child within 12 months of the initial placement; or

c.    Care for a child under the age of 18 with a health condition that requires treatment or supervision; or over the age of 18 if incapable of self-care due to mental or physical disability.

d.    State law family leave may be taken on a reduced leave schedule only with the prior approval of the Appointing Authority.

e.    State law family leave is available in addition to any leave for sickness or disability due to pregnancy or childbirth.

f.    Spouses, both employed by Pierce County, are collectively entitled to a total of 12 work weeks of State law family leave during any 12-month period.

2.    Federal FMLA: Twelve weeks of job-protected leave are allowed during any consecutive 12-month period (the 12-month period is measured forward from the date the employee's family leave first begins) for the following reasons:

a.    Care for a newborn child, newly adopted child, or newly placed foster child. Leave for birth or adoption must be completed within 12 months. Employees may use FMLA leave for birth, placement for adoption or foster care intermittently by taking leave in blocks of time or by reducing their normal weekly or daily work schedule subject to the approval of the Appointing Authority and the Human Resources Director; or

b.    Care for an immediate family member including the employee's spouse (but excluding unmarried domestic partners), biological or adopted or foster children under the age of 18 with a health condition that requires treatment or supervision, or over the age of 18 if incapable of self-care due to mental or physical disability, or parent and like relatives of the employee's spouse, providing the immediate family member has a serious health condition. Employees may use FMLA leave intermittently by taking leave in blocks of time or by reducing their normal weekly or daily work schedule whenever it is medically necessary to care for a seriously ill family member.

c.    Care for self if unable to perform the essential functions of their position due to a serious health condition. Employees may use FMLA leave intermittently by taking leave in blocks of time or by reducing their normal weekly or daily work schedule when the employee is seriously ill and unable to work.

(Ord. 2018-26s § 1 (part), 2018; Ord. 2016-84 § 1 (part), 2016; Ord. 2014-8 § 1 (part), 2014; Ord. 2008-106s § 1 (part), 2008; Ord. 2004-7s § 2 (part), 2004; Ord. 98-123 § 1 (part), 1998)

3.67.025 Federal Military Family Leave Revised 7/18

A.    Family Leave for Military Exigency. A federal FMLA-eligible employee may take up to 12 work weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in a 12-month period for a "qualifying exigency," as identified by federal law, arising out of the covered active duty foreign deployment of the employee's spouse, son, daughter, or parent. For members of the Regular Armed Forces, covered active duty is duty during deployment of the member with the Armed Forces to a foreign country. For members of the Reserve components of the Armed Forces, covered active duty is duty during deployment of the member with the Armed Forces to a foreign country under a call or order to active duty in a contingency operation. Vacation or other appropriate leave accruals may be used, if available. The County may require that an employee's request for qualifying exigency leave be supported by an appropriate certification, including a copy of the military member's active duty orders.

B.    Military Caregiver Leave. A federal FMLA-eligible employee who is the spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin of a covered servicemember who is recovering from a serious illness or injury sustained in the line of duty on active duty is entitled to up to 26 weeks of leave in a single 12-month period to care for the servicemember, or as otherwise provided by law. This military caregiver leave is combined and included as part of the 12-week total FMLA leave available to employees.

(Ord. 2018-26s § 1 (part), 2018; Ord. 2008-106s § 1 (part), 2008)

3.67.030 Payment for Family Leave. Revised 7/18 Revised 5/19

A.    All family leave shall include paid leave, compensatory time, paid legal holidays, if any, or unpaid leave. Family Leave shall be charged to accrued sick leave, accrued vacation leave, accrued compensatory time, accrued furlough days, accrued but unused personal holidays, or humanitarian catastrophic leave, and may be charged through an automated payroll default system at the County's option.

B.    An employee may not take paid leave unless it has been earned/accrued.

C.    Unpaid leave as family leave shall be authorized only after the exhaustion of all other paid leaves as specified above.

D.    Family leave used as time-loss due to an industrial accident or illness is exempt from the requirement to exhaust leaves prior to using unpaid leave.

(Ord. 2019-11 § 1 (part), 2019; Ord. 2018-26s § 1 (part), 2018; Ord. 2008-106s § 1 (part), 2008; Ord. 2008-106s § 1 (part), 2008; Ord. 2001-64 § 1, 2001; Ord. 98-123 § 1 (part), 1998)

3.67.040 Notification and Certification. Revised 7/18

Employees planning to take family leave shall provide their department director and immediate supervisor with written notice on application forms provided by the Human Resources Department at least 30 days in advance of the anticipated need. Notification shall include the anticipated starting date of leave and requested ending date and, if applicable, any sick leave or vacation leave to be retained as set forth in subsection 3.67.030 C.

A.    For childbirth, adoption or foster care placement, all absences shall be considered to be family leave. The 30-day advance notification may be waived if the birth is premature; or the employee takes custody of the newly adopted or place foster child at an unanticipated time and is unable to give 30 days advance notice; or the Appointing Authority, employee's supervisor and employee agree to lesser notice.

B.    In an emergency situation, the advance notice is waived provided employees must schedule leave so as not to unduly disrupt operations.

C.    Periodic reports, including updated physician certification regarding the employee or family member's status and intent to return to work, may be required as deemed necessary by the Appointing Authority

D.    Medical Certification Required: Each employee requesting family leave, except for childbirth, adoption or placement of a foster child shall provide a certification of the attending physician or medical practitioner on the Pierce County Certification of Physician or Practitioner or other approved form. Employees do not have to share a medical diagnosis. Submission of the medical certification should be made at the time of application but in emergency or unforeseen circumstances shall be submitted not later than 15 calendar days after application is made. Failure to provide the medical certification within the required 15 days after application, or when the leave was foreseeable, shall be cause to deny Family Leave until such time as an acceptable medical certificate is provided or obtained. The medical certification must certify a serious health condition which requires inpatient care in a hospital, hospice or residential medical care facility or which requires continuing treatment, as defined by FMLA, by a health care provider.

E.    If the validity of the medical condition is disputed or unclear, the County may require the employee to obtain a second opinion by a provider of the County's choice and at the County's expense. In the event of a dispute between the two providers, the County may require the opinion of a third provider selected in accordance with State Law or FMLA as appropriate. The cost of the third opinion shall be borne by the County. The opinion of the third provider shall be binding.

F.    All requests for family leave require the approval of both the employee's department director and the Human Resources Director. However, nothing shall derogate from the County's authority under the FMLA to determine and designate any period of qualifying leave to be family leave in which case the Human Resources Director shall so notify the employee in writing.

(Ord. 2018-26s § 1 (part), 2018; Ord. 2008-106s § 1 (part), 2008; Ord. 2004-7s § 2 (part), 2004; Ord. 98-123 § 1 (part), 1998)

3.67.050 Discontinuance of Family Leave. Revised 1/17 Revised 7/18

In the event the family member for whom the family leave was taken dies, authorization for family leave shall cease. The employee shall be entitled to bereavement leave in accordance with Chapter 3.76 PCC or applicable collective bargaining agreement as appropriate.

If an employee gives unequivocal notice of intent not to return to work, the employer's obligations under FMLA to maintain health benefits (subject to Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) requirements), and to restore the employee, cease. (Ord. 2018-26s § 1 (part), 2018; Ord. 2016-84 § 1 (part), 2016; Ord. 98-123 § 1 (part), 1998)

3.67.060 Maintenance of Benefits. Revised 7/18

During periods of FMLA leave, Pierce County will maintain employee and dependent coverage under the group health plan(s) under which the employee was enrolled at the time leave commenced and shall make premium payments at the same level as was made prior to leave commencement. Benefits may be maintained during periods of State Law family leave by the employee paying the appropriate premiums as directed by the County. Except in the event of the unexpected death of the employee while on family leave or if the employee is unable to return as previously expected due to a serious health condition of the employee or eligible family member, should the employee fail to return to work on the conclusion of authorized family leave, Pierce County may recover any premiums paid for maintaining group health coverage under this Section. In order to be considered to have returned to work, the employee must return to a pay status for not less than 30 calendar days and must comply with all appropriate leave policies. (Ord. 2018-26s § 1 (part), 2018; Ord. 98-123 § 1 (part), 1998)

3.67.070 Restoration of Employment. Revised 1/17 Revised 7/18

Upon return from FMLA leave, if the employee is able to perform the essential functions of the job, the employee shall be restored to the classification and position held upon commencing FMLA leave, or to an equivalent job with equivalent pay, benefits, and other employment terms and conditions. If the department's circumstances have so changed that the employee cannot be reinstated to the same position, or a position of equivalent pay and benefits, the employee shall be reinstated in any other position which is vacant and for which the employee is qualified.

Restoration of employment is not required if any of the following conditions exist:

A.    The employee's position is eliminated by a bona fide restructuring, or reduction-in-force; or

B.    The employee's workplace is permanently or temporarily shut down for at least 30 days; or

C.    The employee fails to provide timely notice of family leave as required, or fails to return on the established ending date of leave; or

D.    Any other reason that would have resulted in discharge or denial of reinstatement had the employee not been on leave; or

E.    Any other reason as provided under the provisions of State law or FMLA.

(Ord. 2018-26s § 1 (part), 2018; Ord. 2016-84 § 1 (part), 2016; Ord. 98-123 § 1 (part), 1998)

3.67.080 Exemptions. Revised 1/17 Revised 7/18

A.    The County may elect to designate certain salaried employees who are among the highest paid 10 percent of all employees as FMLA-eligible key employees whose employment restoration may be denied if such restoration of employment would cause substantial and grievous economic injury to the operations of the County.

B.    The use of family leave will not alter or amend the benefit accrual policies of Pierce County. The use of intermittent leave may affect benefit accruals if it prevents the employee from being in a pay status at least 70 percent of the employee's standard pay cycle as defined by County policy.

C.    Salaried executive, administrative and professional employees exempt from minimum wage and overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act may use unpaid FMLA leave or, if authorized, intermittent FMLA leave in less than full-day increments without jeopardizing their FLSA exempt status.

(Ord. 2018-26s § 1 (part), 2018; Ord. 2016-84 § 1 (part), 2016; Ord. 98-123 § 1 (part), 1998)

3.67.090 Posting Requirement. Revised 7/18

The County shall distribute notifications explaining rights and responsibilities under the FMLA and State law for permanent posting on bulletin boards maintained for employee information. (Ord. 2018-26s § 1 (part), 2018; Ord. 2008-106s § 1 (part), 2008; Ord. 2004-7s § 2 (part), 2004; Ord. 98-123 § 1 (part), 1998)

3.67.100 Severability. Revised 7/18

The County Executive may modify or discontinue all or part of the family and medical leave program in the event of repeal or suspension in whole or in part of either the State law family leave act or FMLA or both. (Ord. 2018-26s § 1 (part), 2018; Ord. 98-123 § 1 (part), 1998)