Tony D. McKinnon Sr.
Family and Medical Leave Information
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was signed into law by President Clinton in 1993. It requires employers to grant eligible employees leave for certain family and medical reasons. Under the law, eligible employees are entitled to the following:
Up to a total of 12 workweeks of leave during any 12-month period for one or more of the following reasons:
- the birth or placement of a child for adoption or foster care, and to care for the newborn child within one year of birth/placement;
- to care for the employee’s spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition;
- a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job;
- any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a covered military service member on “covered active duty;” or
Up to a total of 26 workweeks of leave during any 12-month period to care for a covered military servicemember with a serious injury or illness if the eligible employee is the servicemember’s spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin (military caregiver leave).
USPS Provided Incorrect Notification
On FMLA Status to Employees
(06/05/13) The Postal Service recently informed the APWU that it provided incorrect notification to 696 employees [PDF] on a Designation Notice for FMLA Leave (Form WH-382) that was sent to them in late March. The line on the bottom of the form that was erroneously checked stated that “The FMLA does not apply to your leave request.” However, the line that should have been checked contains the response that “You have exhausted your FMLA leave entitlement in the applicable 12 month period.” Management will be reprinting corrected documents and mailing them with another notice to impacted employees, along with the approximate date it calculates that each employee exhausted his/her FMLA leave entitlement. See the attachment for the Postal Service’s notice to APWU and a draft copy of the new notification that will be sent to employees.
Revised FMLA Forms
(05/31/12) The union has posted revised FMLA forms for use by healthcare providers to certify serious illnesses of APWU members and their family members. The forms the union created in 2009 “ solicit all of the information required under law,” Industrial Relations Director Mike Morris noted in a May 28, 2011, letter to USPS management. However, the APWU revised the forms based on suggestions made during a recent meeting with USPS officials to discuss the implementation of an arbitration award that stipulated that the Postal Service cannot require employees to use the Department of Labor’s WH-380 FMLA forms. [read more]
APWU Forms Available for FMLA Medical Certification
(05/02/12) The APWU FMLA Forms are once again available for employees to use when submitting medical certification for leave under the Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA). In accordance with an April 18, 2012, award by Arbitrator Shyam Das, the Postal Service cannot require employees to use the Department of Labor’s WH-380 forms. Arbitrator Das recognized that the DOL Forms are optional forms. The USPS must accept an employee’s medical certification in any format – provided it contains all of the information required under the law. [read more]
FMLA Changes to USPS Form 3971
(05/01/12 )The postal service has developed a new form 3971, notification of Absence, for employees to use when making leave requests.
The most significant changes deal with Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requests. Employees should pay close attention to the back of the Form 3971, which now includes a section allowing employees to alert the Postal Service that their absence may be covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act. If the leave request relates to an ongoing FMLA condition, the employee should notate the FMLA case number to speed up the handling of the leave request. If it is for a new FMLA condition, the employee should check the appropriate box, which will trigger the issuance of the forms the employee needs for the USPS to process and evaluate their FMLA eligibility and coverage. The new form now includes all categories of potential FMLA coverage, including provisions relating to family members in the military that were implemented in 2008 and 2010. [read more]
APWU Wins Important FMLA Arbitration
(04/23/12) The APWU won an important arbitration on April 18, when Arbitrator Shyam Das upheld the right of postal employees to use forms developed by the union when submitting certification for leave under the provisions of the Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Das’ ruling overturned a Postal Service policy, announced on July 6, 2010, that required employees to use forms developed by the Department of Labor (DOL). [read more]
Clarification On Use of APWU FMLA Forms
(07/14/09) In response to a letter from the Postal Service stating that the APWU's FMLA forms are not equivalent to the Department of Labor's FMLA forms, the union has written the Postal Service clarifying our position on the use of the forms. Some managers have interpreted the USPS's comments to mean that the APWU's FMLA forms are unacceptable. This is not true. FMLA regulations do not require that certification be provided on any particular form, or in any particular format, as long as the information is complete and sufficient. Management must make a case-by-case determination if the documentation provided is complete and sufficient. If it's not, they are required to explain to the employee, in writing, what they must do to make the form complete and sufficient. They cannot require the use of the optional DOL forms. In addition, the optional DOL forms contain space for doctors to provide information that is not required by the regulations. The APWU continues to encourage our members to use the APWU forms.
APWU FMLA Forms Revised
(04/30/09) The APWU's revised FMLA forms that were issued in February 2009 to meet new federal regulations have been modified slightly for clarity after input from locals and field officers. APWU FMLA forms #1 and #2 were revised as follows: 1) a change to the section regarding medical facts to include treatment, if any; 2) a clarification regarding what constitutes a chronic condition (i.e. the new regulations stipulate that to qualify as a chronic condition, the employee must require treatment at least twice a year, and 3) a place for the HCP to print their name, above where they place their signature. This last change also applies to form #4. Form #3 is unchanged. While the February 2009 version of the forms should still be acceptable when properly completed, these revisions add clarity and should, therefore, reduce the number of instances where the Postal Service finds the forms “insufficient” or “incomplete.”
New APWU FMLA Forms Available
(02/24/09) The APWU's FMLA forms have been updated to meet revised certification requirements that took effect Jan. 16, 2009. The forms have also been renumbered. APWU Form 1 is for leave for an employee's own serious health condition and APWU Form 2 is for leave to care for a family member's serious health condition. APWU Forms 3 and 4 are new and are for employees who are requesting military family leave under the new regulations. [read more]
New FMLA Rules Effective January 16
(01/16/09) The APWU has been meeting with the Postal Service regarding the implementation of changes to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) – changes the Bush Administration implemented just four days before President Bush leaves office. The changes, announced in November, make it harder for workers who are covered by the law to use FMLA leave. The APWU is also updating our FMLA materials (including APWU’s FMLA medical certification forms) to reflect the changes. Those updated materials will be distributed as they become available. [read more]
Enhanced FMLA Leave for Military Families
(02/29/08) Recent amendments to the Family and Medical Leave Act provide up to 26 weeks of FMLA leave to help eligible family members recover from a military service-related injury or illness, and also up to 12 weeks of FMLA leave to fulfill family obligations if a spouse, child or parent is on active duty, or is being called to active duty. [read more]
The following documents and links provide guidance and assistance for APWU members and representatives when applying the provisions of the FMLA to postal employees.
Downloadable APWU versions of forms that can be used when requesting or certifying leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
A document jointly produced by the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) and the United States Postal Service (USPS) with answers to the most frequently asked Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) questions. It is the intent of the parties that referral to these questions and answers should eliminate disputes concerning the most basic FMLA issues.
A U.S. Department of Labor notice about your rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
(Updated 04/25/12) The APWU won an important arbitration case on April 18, when Arbitrator Shyam Das ruled that the Postal Service cannot require employees to use forms developed by the Department of Labor (DOL) when they submit certification for leave under the provisions of the Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Das’ ruling overturned a Postal Service policy, announced on July 6, 2010, that required employees to use DOL forms. [read more]
(07/05/05) An employee's time on LWOP for union business does not count toward the 1,250 hours of service required for eligibility under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), according to this national-level award by Arbitrator Das.
An employee, who is eligible for Family Medical Leave at the time medical leave commences, but due to intermittent leaves for the same condition, falls below the 1250 hour minimum required in the previous 12 month period, is nevertheless eligible for medical leave.
Clarification letters from the USPS and the Department of Labor (DOL) regarding application of the 1250 Work-hour eligibility requirement when an employee who is eligible for Family Medical Leave for one condition, but due to leave for a different condition, falls below the 1250 hour minimum.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s FMLA Compliance Assistance web site.