Human Resources

Leave of Absence Programs

Willamette University complies with both the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 and the Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA) of 1995 which provide for medical and family leave. The rights and obligations of employees under these two laws are not identical, and federal law does not supersede Oregon law should the state law provide greater leave rights to employees. Should the employee qualify under the provisions of the leave laws, both FMLA and OFLA will run concurrently.

The basics of each leave is outlined below, however, since these laws are complex, it is required that an employee make an appointment with Human Resources to discuss eligiblity, obligations, and to receive the appropriate forms to request either FMLA or OFLA leave. The Human Resources Office will determine whether the employee's leave of absence should be designated as qualifying for FMLA or OFLA. Eligible Faculty who may need to take medical or family leave should check their faculty handbook and contact their respective Dean to discuss the process.

In addition to the federal and state leave laws, Willamette University also provides for Personal Leave for qualified staff.

Definitions (apply to both FMLA and OFLA):

* Serious Health Condition: A condition that required inpatient care or that poses an imminent danger of death in the near future or that requires constant care. An employee who is unsure whether a medical condition qualifies for family leave should contact the Human Resources Office for futher Information.

** Family Members: For purposes of family leave, "family members" consist of a child (biological, step, adopted, or foster) under the age of 18 or adult child substantially limited by a physical or mental impairment, spouse, parent, parent-in-law, or person acting "in loco parentis" (such as guardian or another relative caring for a child).

Family Medical Leave (FMLA)

To be eligible for FMLA, an employee must have been employed at least 12 months and has worked at least 1,250 hours during the previous 12-month period may be entitled to up to 12 weeks (unpaid) in any 12-month period beginning with the first date the employee must take leave. Any employee on FMLA leave will be allowed to continue group health insurance coverage during the period of leave.

An employee must use available accrued sick leave and vacation during the unpaid portion of the leave. No vacation, sick time, or other accurals based on time-worked will accrue or be counted during the unpaid portion of the leave. At the end of the FMLA leave, an employee will be re-instated to his/her former position or to an equivalent position with equivalent benefits, pay and other terms /conditions of employment.

FMLA leave can be used for the following purposes:

  • birth, adoption or foster placement of a child under the age of 18; or adoption or foster placement fo a disabled child 18 years or older who is incapable of self care;
  • incapacity due to pregnancy, perenatal medical care, or child birth
  • serious health condition* of a family member**; or
  • the employee's own serious health condition*.

Oregon Family Leave (OFLA)

To be eligible for OFLA, an employee must have been employed with the University for at least 180 days and worked an average of 25 hours per week during the 180 days. The 25-hour limit does not apply for leave for birth, adoption, or foster placement of a child under age 18.) The maximum amount of leave an employee may use at any one time is determined by the 12-month period beginning the first day the employee takes leave.

An employee on family leave may continue group medical benefits during any period of family leave at the employee's expense up to a maximum of 12 weeks, by making arrangements through the Human Resource Office. As with FMLA, OFLA is unpaid leave, and an employee must use available sick leave and vacation during the otherwise unpaid portion of the leave. No vacation or sick leave will accrue during the unpaid portion of the leave. At the end of the OFLA leave, an employee will be re-instated to his/her former position or to an equivalent position.

OFLA leave can be used for the following purposes:

  • a serious health condition of the employee or of a family member;**
  • birth, adoption, or foster placement of a child under the age of 18; or adoption or foster placement of an adult child who is incapable of self-care because of a physical or mental impairment; or
  • illness or injury of a child necessitating home care, other than a serious health condition, for a minor child or an adult child substantially limited by a physical or mental impairment.

Personal Leave

Full and part-time benefit eligible staff that have been employed for more than one year, may request up to one (1) year of unpaid personal leave. A written request for personal leave must be submitted, at least 30 days in advance, to the employee's supervisor indicating the necessity for the leave, and the estimated dates of departure and return. Approval for Personal Leaves must be granted in advance by the employee's supervisor, appropriate Vice President, or Dean, and will be granted at the sole discretion of the University.

Upon return from Personal leave, the employee will be restored to their prior or, unless it has become necessary for the University to fill the position on a regular basis or eliminate the position. Employees will not accrue seniority, vacation, or sick leave, nor receive payment for holidays or other fringe benefits. COBRA continuation for coverage of health benefits is available on a self-paid basis. Employees must use any accrued vacation while on unpaid leave, but may not extend their leave beyond one (1) year. Failure to return from Personal leave will be deemed a voluntary resignation.