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Human Resources > Benefits > Family Medical Leave

Family Medical Leave

The following page provides information on Family Medical Leave. Additional guidance on Family Medical Leave is available from your human resources representative, or from the Benefits Office.


The Observatory provides family medical leave of absence for up to 12 weeks* per rolling 12-month period to eligible employees who request leave under any of the following situations:

(1) The birth or adoption of the employee’s child or the placement in the employee’s care of a foster child;

AUI provides 8 weeks of Parental Leave for qualifying employees.  More information is available here. This leave can be used to provide pay for FML absences due to the birth or adoption or placement of a foster child.

(2) The serious illness of the employee’s spouse, child, parent, or stepchild living in the employee’s home; or

(3) The employee’s own serious health condition.

(4) Qualifying military exigency. Eligible employees are entitled to up to 12 weeks of leave because of "any qualifying exigency" arising out of the fact that the spouse, son, daughter, or parent of the employee is on active duty, or has been notified of an impending call to active duty status, in support of a contingency operation.

(5) *Military caregiver leave. An eligible employee who is the spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin of a covered service member 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 service member.

Eligible employees are required to use any accrued sick leave and vacation leave before the start of unpaid Family Medical Leave (FML). Sick leave may be taken as follows:

  • Six weeks – after normal, healthy birth of child.
  • Eight weeks or more – after complications arising from the birth, or a Caesarean section is required.
  • All accumulated sick leave - employees who are incapacitated.
  • Ten days (family sick) - to care for an immediate family member.

Family Medical Leave is unpaid.  Use of sick leave, vacation and doctor/dentist visit leave is required to continue your salary on FML. If leave without pay is used, the employee is responsible for paying benefit premiums directly to the Observatory.

When an employee who takes FML returns at the conclusion of the FML, s/he will be reinstated to her/his former position, or an equivalent position, with the same pay, benefits, or other employment terms.

In any NRAO location where state law provides for greater FML benefits than are required under Federal law, the provisions of the state law shall apply.

Who is eligible for Family Medical Leave (FML)?

Employees who have been working for the Observatory at least one year and who have worked 1250 hours or more are eligible for FML.

If both spouses work for the Observatory, they are eligible for a total of 12 weeks’ leave (not 12 weeks each) if the leave is taken for the birth or adoption of a child, to receive a foster child into the home, or to care for a seriously ill child or parent.

How do I request leave?  Do I have to request FML?

Employees or supervisors must notify human resources after three consecutive days of absence for the above situations.

When the need for leave is foreseeable, such as the birth or adoption of a child or planned medical treatment, employees are expected to give the Observatory reasonable notice of their intent to take leave. This notice should be given at least 30 days before taking the leave where possible.

Once notified of an FML eligible event, HR will send the employee a Notice of Eligibility. This form may require the employee to provide additional medical information and/or a physician's certification. Failure to return the appropriate certifications will result in denial of the employee's request for FML.

Employees who take FML must keep their supervisors informed of their status and of their intention to return to work by regular contact at least every two weeks.

Can I take Family Medical Leave in small increments?

Yes. This is known as Intermittent FML.

If it is medically necessary for a serious health condition, employees may take FML on an intermittent or reduced leave schedule.  Intermittent leave may also be taken for the birth or adoption of a child or the placement of a foster child. The total intermittent leave may not exceed 12 weeks in any rolling 12-month period. Employees requesting intermittent leave may be required to transfer temporarily to another job better suited for such leave. In such cases, pay and benefits will be unaffected.

How do I keep track of Family Medical Leave? Is there an ETK code?

Family medical leave is tracked in ETK through the "FML" code.  The FML code will pull from your sick balance. Then you will have to use vacation or leave without pay.  Supervisors must update human resources of the status of their employees on FML.