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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 Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles eligible employees to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage. FMLA provides eligible employees with leave of absence for up to 12 weeks* per rolling 12-month period. Eligible employees are those who have worked for the employer for at least 12 months (or worked 1,250 hours). Eligible employees are able to use accrued sick and vacation time to carry them through the 12 week period. Please see summaries below for information relating to AUI's Family Medical Leave, Parental Leave, and Frequently Asked Questions.

Please see Section 3: Total Rewards for the full policy.

Family Medical Leave

Parental Leave


The Observatory provides family medical leave of absence for up to 12 weeks (480 hours)* per rolling 12-month period to eligible employees who request leave under any of the following situations:

  • The birth of a child or placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care,
  • The care for a child, spouse, or parent who has a serious health condition,
  • A serious health condition that makes the employee unable to work, and 
  • Reasons related to a family member’s service in the military, including
    • Qualifying exigency leave – leave for certain reasons related to a family member’s foreign deployment, and 
    • Military caregiver leave – leave when a family member is a current servicemember or recent veteran with a serious injury or illness.

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.

*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.
  • Fifteen days (120 hrs family sick) - to care for an immediate family member.

Family Medical Leave is unpaid. Use of sick leave, vacation 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.

The Family Leave Policy is designed to provide its employees, both male and female, with paid time off from work so they can attend to health related care of family members. The policy also allows for modified work scheduling when feasible.

Birth, Adoption or Foster Care
Special “Parental Leave” coverage is provided to benefits eligible employees for the birth of the employee’s own child, or the placement of a child with the employee in connection with adoption or foster care. Coverage under this policy begins 6 months after the employee’s hire date. Parental Leave is separate from other AUI paid leave coverage and provides eight (8) weeks of paid leave per 12 month period. Use of this leave is time limited, whereby the employee has a maximum of sixteen (16) weeks to use this leave starting on the date of birth or adoption/foster care. Unused hours following this sixteen (16) week period are automatically forfeited. *Effective January 1, 2022 - If both parents are AUI/Observatory employees, each parent would be eligible for 8 weeks of paid leave per 12 month period.

Both parents continue to be entitled to Family Medical Leave Act leave, if eligible, as described below:

  • Requests for Parental Leave for the birth, adoption or foster placement of a child must be made to the employee’s department head 30 days in advance of the event, or as much notice as practicable if the leave is not foreseeable.
  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) documentation must also be completed before Family Leave can be approved. Family Leave shall run concurrently with FMLA leave, if applicable.
  • FMLA leave beyond the 320 hours of paid Parental Leave is unpaid unless the employee chooses to use qualified sick and/or vacation time.


For helpful graphs on how the benefit works, please see below:

Maternity Leave

Paternity Leave

*Employees residing in New Mexico have state regulations for additional use of Sick Leave for Family Members above the 120 hours.

Virginia Based Staff - Please view the Virginia Reasonable Accommodations for Pregnancy


  • How do I request Leave? Do I have to request FML?
    • Employees or supervisors must notify human resources after three consecutive days of absence. If the need for leave is foreseeable, human resources should be notified 30 days in advance.
    • Human Resources will then provide employees with a Notice of Eligibility, which will require additional medical information and/or physicians certification.
    • 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 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.
  • What if I am taking leave time to care for a family member?
    • Employees may use up to 120 hours of their accrued sick leave balance to care for seriously ill/injured family members. Eligible family members include spouse, children, parents, and stepchildren if they reside in the employee’s home.
  • How do I code my time in ETK while I am out on leave?
    • Once Human Resources has reviewed and approved your FML paperwork, you will receive an email with instructions on how to code your time in ETK.
    • Only those on approved leave by Human Resources may use the FML or PL code in ETK.
  • Department of Labor (DOL) Fact Sheets:
    • For a full list of FMLA Fact Sheets, please click here