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Family Medical Leave for Graduate Students
March 24, 2014 3:28 PM   Subscribe

Does Family Medical Leave cover graduate students on .50 FTE? If so, does it still allow for tuition reimbursement or would I be on the hook for that?

I'm sure this may be a "answers are different everywhere, talk to your HR person" kind of response, but I may need to take FMLA until the end of the semester and I'm wondering if a) it applies to non-full time employees (I'm considered .50 FTE and teach two classes of my own) and b) if this means I'll be on the hook for my tuition and insurance that have already been paid through my department.

Any suggestions on how to find out, what you already know, what the other possibilities I'm not considering might be.

[In case it matters: I had a baby two weeks ago. We had childcare sorted and it fell through. I was planning on going back next week, but now I have no idea if I can find childcare or if I even want to return for the rest of the semester (approx 5 weeks). Finding subs won't be a huge problem, but I imagine I would need to go through the department if I wanted someone to sub for me the rest of the semester and in doing that, I assume I'll have to take some sort of medical leave.]
posted by mrfuga0 to Work & Money (8 answers total)
 
It depends! :)

Things like TAing, Teaching, Research Assisting, etc. count as work usually under the FMLA and you must have worked at least 1250 hours in the past (rolling) 12 months and been employed there for at least 12 months to qualify for FMLA.

Things like your personal research for your dissertation and writing your dissertation likely don't count towards the 1250 hours.

I have no idea about the tuition and insurance items, especially since you are probably on student insurance and not employer insurance and they are just paying for it? Your school's HR department probably has this locked down though as I'm sure it comes up fairly often.
posted by magnetsphere at 3:37 PM on March 24 [2 favorites]


You might qualify for something under title IX. There's recently been a crackdown on title IX regarding pregnancy and related leave. Your school should have someone in charge of title IX compliance for questions.
posted by arabelladragon at 3:55 PM on March 24


When I was a pregnant and new mother grad student the grad student union had just passed a policy on this. It is essentially like any other leave and one would lose health insurance and have to start paying back loans.
In my grad department it seemed best to work this out quietly.
Congrats on the baby!
posted by k8t at 3:58 PM on March 24


Are you at a public university? Do you have a union? If the answer to both questions is no I'm not optimistic for your situation, unfortunately. Generally speaking graduate students are classified as students when that's worse for them and as workers when that's worse for them. My guess is you don't qualify as an employee for the purposes of FMLA. But hopefully someone can give you a definitive answer that's more positive.
posted by gerryblog at 4:17 PM on March 24


At my university (UNC) you are entitled to 6 weeks paid leave as a graduate student. Meaning stipend, insurance and tuition are paid. Search around on your university's website.
posted by corn_bread at 4:52 PM on March 24


Your university has an HR department. If they have website, try that. If not, just call and ask what the FMLA policy is for your situation. don't tell them who you are or why you need the leave, if that makes you feel comfortable. If you don't like the answers you get, check with the person in your department who you are closest with who has any clout, as k8t says, sometimes this can be worked out informally and on the down low, to your advantage, especially if subs are easy to find. (IAAL; IANYL, TINLA).
posted by dpx.mfx at 8:37 PM on March 24 [1 favorite]


You should talk to HR, but it's pretty unlikely you'll qualify. I strongly advise finishing the course you're teaching for the sake of your students and to keep from pissing off anyone in your department... that could burn some bridges. What about your partner using FMLA? Asking friends to watch the baby just during your classes (I am guessing your actual teaching time is less than 8 hours a week)?

It sounds like you're in a really tough stressful spot right now. I'm sorry. But try not to do anything that could affect your future career. Five weeks isn't that long to suck it up even though it might feel like it is right now.
posted by metasarah at 8:44 PM on March 24


I'm wondering if a) it applies to non-full time employees (I'm considered .50 FTE and teach two classes of my own)

It depends. See above regarding eligibility. You usually need to have worked 1,250 hours in the previous year, and have been an employee of the university for at least 12 months.
and b) if this means I'll be on the hook for my tuition and insurance that have already been paid through my department.
I'm pretty sure that the FMLA doesn't speak to tuition - that will be determined by local policy. If you do qualify for FML, though, you will continue to receive insurance. That's one of the main benefits of FML, is that you get to keep your insurance, and whatever your employer subsidy of that insurance is.
posted by donajo at 8:45 PM on March 24


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