6.0 Leave Policies

6.1.1 Paid Time Off

Paid time off is available to all full-time employees and can be used for vacation, personal time off, sick leave, or maternity leave/ paternity leave. Bereavement leave is a separate category of leave (see section 6.1.2). You will start accruing paid time off when you begin employment and may use your accrued paid time off only after 90 days of continuous employment. First Environments requires that paid time off be used before unpaid leave can be granted. If you work fewer hours, you will accrue fewer hours of PTO per pay period. Paid Time Off accrual is based on the number of hours you actually work (up to 40 per week) and the number of PTO hours reported, not on the number of hours your are scheduled to work. **Temporary/Seasonal Employees see 2.1.9 41 

 

Paid time off for full-time employees is accrued as follows: 

Years Completed Full-time Employees (working 36 – 40 hours per week) 

  • Begin employment 5 hours every 2 weeks 
  • Once completed 3 years 6 hours every 2 weeks 
  • Once completed 6 years 7 hours every 2 weeks 
  • Once completed 10 years 8 hours every 2 weeks 

Full-time employees who have accrued and have unused paid time off at the end of the calendar year may carry over up to 60 hours to the next calendar year. 

  • Accrued but unused paid time off will be paid upon separation from the Center or if you change from full-time to part-time status 

 

Requests for Paid Time Off

You must submit requests for Paid Time Off in the Director’s office at least 2 weeks in advance, using the forms that are available by the calendar. All requests will be granted on a first received basis. You may only request time off within the four posted months. For requests received at the same time, the Center administration will consider position and seniority of service, as well as any mutual agreement among staff. The Center’s ability to maintain the continuity of its program to the children is the Center’s first priority. For this reason, only one teacher per classroom will be granted Paid Time Off at any given time. The Director may consider hardship cases and holidays as exceptions. If you are requesting time off and you have no accrued leave you must submit your request directly to the Director by email. The Director will discuss performance and continuity of care with your direct supervisor to help with the decision. 

For unexpected absences, such as those resulting from illness or injury, you should contact the Center as soon as you know you will be absent or at least 1 hour prior to your scheduled shift. Call 541-9452 and leave a message if before hours of operation. You must report your absence to administrative staff. If you have an extended illness, time off, after the first day, will be considered approved if you have a doctor’s note. 

6.1.2 Personal Leave Time (PLT) 

First Environments understands that it can be challenging at times to schedule appointments that need to take place during business hours. In an effort to create a more flexible workplace, upon completion of their initial 90 day period each Full Time Employee will be given 3 days worth of personal leave time each year, to be equated with 24 hours of time, to schedule those appointments. This time can be taken in up to 4 hour increments to either leave early or come in late (staffing permitting) to arrange for these appointments. Once you have used all of your 42 

 

personal leave time, your paid time off bank will begin being used to cover this time. Personal leave time is not to be used as vacation or sick leave. Any remaining balance in your personal leave time bank cannot be carried over into the next year nor will it be paid out upon separation from FEELC. 

6.1.3 Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) 

Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) 

First Environments provides FMLA leave to eligible employees in compliance with the Family and Medical Leave Act as amended January 16, 2009 

Employees are eligible for a covered FMLA job-protected leave if they have worked for First Environments for at least 12 months, worked 1250 hours over the previous 12 months, and if the employee works at a company worksite in which has at least 50 employees within 75 miles. 

Basic Leave Entitlement

Eligible employees may take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job protected leave for the following reasons: 

  • For incapacity due to pregnancy, prenatal medical care or child birth; 
  • To care for the employee’s child after birth, or placement for adoption or foster care, or 
  • To care for the employee’s spouse, son or daughter, or parent, who has a serious health condition; or 
  • For a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the employee’s job. 

 

A serious health condition is an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves either an overnight stay in a medical care facility, or continuing treatment by a health care provider for a condition that either prevents the employee from performing the functions of the employee’s job, or prevents the qualified family member from participating in school or other daily activities. 

Subject to certain conditions, the continuing treatment requirement may be met by a period of incapacity of more than 3 consecutive calendar days combined with at least two visits to a health care provider or one visit and a regimen of continuing treatment, or incapacity due to pregnancy, or incapacity due to a chronic condition. Other conditions may meet the definition of continuing treatment. 

Military Family Leave Entitlements

Eligible employees with a spouse, son, daughter, or parent who is a service member on covered active duty may use their 12-week entitlement to address certain qualifying exigencies. Covered active duty means: 1) in the case of a member of a regular component of the Armed Forces, duty during the deployment of the member with the Armed forces in a foreign country; and 2) for service members of a reserve component of the Armed Forces, duty during the employment of the member with the Armed Forces to a foreign country under a call or order to active duty status. Qualifying exigencies may include attending certain military events, arranging for alternative childcare, addressing certain financial and legal arrangements, attending certain counseling sessions, and attending post deployment reintegration briefings. 

FMLA also includes a special leave entitlement that permits eligible employees to take up to 26 weeks of leave to care for a covered service member or veteran during a single 12-month period. 

A covered service member is a current member of the Armed Forces, including a member of the National Guard or Reserves, who has a serious injury or illness incurred in the line of duty on active duty that may render the service member medically unfit to perform his or her duties for which the service member is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy; or is in outpatient status; or is on the temporary disability retired list. Serious injury means an injury or illness that was incurred in line of duty on active duty in the Armed Forces (or existed before the beginning of the member’s active duty and was aggravated by service in line of duty on active duty in the Armed Forces) and that may render the member medically unfit to perform the duties of the member’s office,, grade, rank or rating. 

A covered veteran is a veteran who is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy for a serious injury or illness and who was a member of the Armed Forces (including a member of the National Guard or Reserves) at any time during the period of five (5) years preceding the date on which the veteran undergoes that medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy. Serious injury or illness for a covered veteran means a qualifying (as defined by the Secretary of Labor) injury or illness that was incurred by the member in line of duty on active duty in the Armed Forces (or existed before the beginning of the member’s active duty and was aggravated by service in line of duty on active duty in the Armed Forces) and that manifested itself before of after the member became a veteran. 

"Spouse" means a husband or wife. "Child" means biological, adopted, or foster child, a stepchild, legal ward, or a child being raised by the employee. The child must be either under 18 years of age, or 18 and older and incapable of self-care because of a mental or physical disability for Basic Leave Entitlement; for Military Leave Entitlement, the child may be of any age. "Parent" means biological parent, or a non-biological parent who had primary responsibility for raising the employee. This term does not include "parents-in-law.” Next of kin of a covered service member means the nearest blood relative other than the covered service member’s spouse, parent, son, or daughter, unless the covered service member has designated a specific blood relative in writing for purposes of military caregiver leave under FMLA. 

Amount of Leave and Leave Period

Eligible employees may take up to 12 weeks of FMLA leave during a "12 month measured forward" leave year, defined as the 12-month period measured forward from the date an employee uses any leave under this policy. 

Employees are entitled to up to 26 weeks of leave in a 12 month period measured forward for Military Caregiver Leave Entitlement. 44 

 

(Note: Spouses working for the company may only take a combined total of 12 weeks for the birth, adoption, or placement of a child into foster child, or to care for a parent with a serious medical condition; or a combined total of 26 weeks to take leave to care for a covered service member.) 

Employee Responsibilities

Employees must provide 30 days advance notice of the need to take FMLA leave when the need is foreseeable. When 30 days notice is not possible, the employee must provide notice as soon as practicable and generally must comply with the First Environment’s normal call-in procedures. 

Employees must provide sufficient information for the First Environments to determine if the leave may qualify for FMLA protection and the anticipated timing and duration of the leave. Sufficient information may include that the employee is unable to perform job functions, the family member is unable to perform daily activities, the need for hospitalization or continuing treatment by a health care provider, or circumstances supporting the need for military family leave. Employees must also inform us if the requested leave is for a reason for which FMLA leave was previously taken or certified. 

Notification of Eligibility

First Environments will inform an employee requesting FMLA leave whether the employee is eligible under the FMLA. If the employee is eligible, the notice to the employee will specify additional employee rights and responsibilities. In addition, First Environments will inform the employee if the leave will be designated as FMLA-protected and the amount of leave counted against the employee’s leave entitlement. If the employee is not eligible, the First Environments will notify the employee that the leave is not FMLA-protected and provide a reason for the ineligibility 

Medical Certification

For leave for medical reasons, medical certification by the health care provider must be obtained and submitted within 15 calendar days of an FMLA request. Leave may be denied if the certification is not timely submitted, is incomplete, or insufficient. If the certification is timely received but is incomplete, you will be advised of information needed and given seven days to provide the required information to enable First Environments to make a decision. Leave may be denied if you do not provide this information. First Environments may request a second medical opinion and designate the health care provider if the certification is questionable. If the first and second medical opinions differ, we may require a third opinion which will be final. Any required second and third certification expenses will be paid by First Environments. Medical recertification may be requested every 30 days unless the original certification was for a longer period, or circumstances have changed significantly. In all cases, we may request a recertification of a medical condition every six months in connection with an absence by the employee. Recertification’s may be requested under other circumstances as specified in FMLA regulations. 

Upon return, the employee must submit to the Human Resources Specialist medical certification of her/his ability to return to work. First Environments may deny work to personnel failing to provide valid fitness for duty certificates. Employees taking FMLA leave must contact the Human Resources Specialist or the Executive Director every four weeks. The employee is required to periodically report her/his intention to return to work. 

Certification of Need for Military Leave

First Environments will require certification of the need for Military Exigency Leave and Military Caregiver Leave. Employees requesting such leave must provide certification within 15 days absent unusual circumstances. Failure to do so may result in delay or denial of FMLA leave. 

Intermittent Leave

Leave may also be taken intermittently or on a reduced leave schedule when medically necessary. Employees must make reasonable efforts to schedule leave for planned medical treatment so as not to unduly disrupt the company’s operations. Leave due to qualifying exigencies may also be taken on an intermittent basis. 

Employees requiring intermittent or reduced leave for foreseeable medical treatment for their own or a family member’s serious health condition may be temporarily reassigned during the leave period to a position with the same pay and benefits that better accommodates a reduced or intermittent schedule. 

Substitution of Paid Leave

Employees will be required to use all accrued Paid Time Off concurrently while taking FMLA leave. Employees may qualify for short-term disability payments; or may be receiving workers' compensation benefits for a condition that also qualifies for FMLA leave under this policy. Any paid leave that qualifies under this policy will be designated FMLA leave and will run concurrently with it. 

Benefits

During FMLA leave, First Environments will maintain health coverage under our group health plan on the same terms as if the employee continued to work. Upon return from FMLA leave, most employees will be restored to their original or equivalent positions with equivalent pay, benefits, and other employment terms. The employee will not accrue employment benefits such as Paid Time Off, but benefits accrued by the employee up to the day on which the FMLA leave begins will not be lost. Use of FMLA leave will not result in the loss of any employment benefit that accrued prior to the taking of FMLA leave. Employees will also not receive pay for any holidays or days that the company is closed during his or her leave. First Environments will pay for Bereavement leave while an employee is out on FMLA in accordance with our Bereavement policy. 

If the employee fails to return from the FMLA leave--except because of their own or a family member's serious health condition or another circumstance beyond their control - - First Environments will recover from the employee any health insurance premiums it paid during the leave on behalf of the employee. In addition, if the employee fails to return to work after the expiration of the FMLA leave, the employee may be required to reimburse First Environments for the First Environments’ share of health and/or dental insurance premiums paid during the period of unpaid leave, unless the employee does not return to work because of: 1) the continuation, recurrence, or onset of a serious health condition either affecting the employee or the employee’s family member which would otherwise entitle the employee to leave under the FMLA, or 2) certain circumstances beyond the employee’s control. 

Status After Leave

Employees who return to work within or on the business day following the expiration of the approved leave will be returned to their job or an equivalent position with the same benefits or pay. However, employees on leave will have no greater right to reinstatement than if they had been actively employed. If the need for leave was due to the employee's own serious health condition, First Environments will require that the employee provide medical certification that they are able to return to work. You may obtain a "fitness-for-duty certification form" from the Human Resources Specialist. 

Other Provisions

Employees may not engage in gainful employment during any approved leave. Violation of this policy will result in termination of employment. In addition, any intentional misrepresentation to obtain or continue a leave of absence constitutes grounds for immediate termination. 

Miscellaneous FMLA Information

The FMLA makes it unlawful for an employer to interfere with, restrain, or deny the exercise of any right provided under the FMLA; and discharge or discriminate against any person for opposing any practice made unlawful by FMLA or for involvement in any proceeding under or relating to the FMLA. An employee may file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor or may bring a private lawsuit against an employer. The FMLA does not affect any federal or state law prohibiting discrimination, or supersede any state or local law or collective bargaining agreement which provides greater family or medical leave rights. 

More Details

To apply for the leave, or for more details about this policy, contact the Human Resources Specialist or Executive Director. 

6.1.4 Bereavement Leave

First Environments will provide employees, who have successfully completed their 90 day orientation period, with bereavement leave for making funeral arrangements, attendance at any wake, and funeral attendance for an immediate family member. “Immediate family members” are identified as your spouse, domestic partner*, parents, children, brother, sister, parents of the spouse, grandparents, grandchildren, grandchildren of the spouse, step-sister, step-brother, half-sister, half-brother, step-mother, step-father, step-children, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, and foster children. The length of the leave will depend on the location of the services. The employee will be allowed 3 days of leave if the immediate family member’s services are located in North Carolina. The employee will be allowed 5 days of leave to travel out of state and attend services for the deceased outside of North Carolina (for part-time eployees, leave is prorated based on thier weekly schedule). As a kindness to employees, First Environments will pay Bereavement leave while an employee is out on FMLA. 

*Domestic Partner will be viewed as spouses and are defined by the same regulations as our health insurance (must share a single permanent residence and have done so continuously for at least the past 12 months; and that such residence is owned by or leased to the Employee and Domestic Partner as joint tenants, are jointly the holders of joint credit or bank accounts at least one of which is a checking account, at least one of them has designated each other as beneficiary of a life insurance policy or been named executer and/or residuary beneficiary of his/her estate under a last will and testament, agreed to assume financial responsibility for the welfare of the other, are no less than 18 years of age, are not now or have been within the past 12 months married to any other person including a common law marriage, and are not related by blood in any degree which would prevent marriage to each other.) 

6.1.5 Military Leave

First Environments will grant an authorized absence to employees who elect or are required to perform service in the uniformed services, to the full extent required by the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (“USERRA”) and other applicable law. 

An individual employee’s service limitations, available benefits, and reemployment rights will be determined in accordance with applicable provisions of this law. In order to be entitled to the reemployment rights afforded by USERRA, you must provide advance notice of the impending service (either orally or in writing and by yourself or through an appropriate officer of the uniformed service in which the service is to occur) to your supervisor. You should provide a copy of your orders. Advance notice will not be required if precluded by military necessity or if, under all of the relevant circumstances, it is impossible or unreasonable. 

Generally, military leave will be without pay, unless you apply paid time off toward the absence. 

 

6.1.6 School Leave

Any employee who is a parent, guardian, or person standing in loco parentis (person acting in the place of a parent) of a school-aged child is eligible to take school leave of up to 4 hours per year so that the employee may attend or otherwise be involved at that child’s school. “School” includes (a) a public school: (b) a private church school, church of religious charter, or nonpublic school that regularly provides a course of grade school instruction; (c) a preschool; or (d) a child care facility that regularly provides day care for more than 5 children under the age of 13 (not including the operator’s own children) at least once a week for more than 4 hours but less than 24 hours a day. In order for school leave to be authorized, you must provide the Center with written notice at least 48 hours before the time desired for the leave. Upon return from school leave, you may be required to provide the Center with written verification from your child’s school that you attended or otherwise were involved at that school during the time of the leave. 

School leave must be taken at a time mutually agreed upon between you and the Center. Time away from work for school leave will be without pay, unless you apply available paid time off toward the absence. 

6.1.7 Holidays

First Environments follows set holidays throughout the calendar year. You will receive holiday pay for these holidays. Employees will be paid for holidays at their regular salaries or rates of pay for their normal workday or part of a workweek. Holidays do not count as hours worked for purposes of computing overtime. If a holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, it generally will be observed on either the preceding Friday or following Monday, whichever is closest to the holiday. 

First Environments recognizes the following holidays: 

  • New Year’s Day Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 
  • President’s Day Memorial Day 
  • Independence Day Labor Day 
  • Columbus Day Veteran’s Day 
  • Thanksgiving Day Fall Break (day after Thanksgiving Day) 
  • Winter Break (day before Christmas Day) Christmas Day 

First Environments realizes that an employee may wish to observe other days that are not recognized holidays as provided above. The Center will make every effort to accommodate your request without disrupting it’s operations. You will be required to use paid time off or unpaid leave for such days. 

6.1.8 Jury Duty

If called for jury duty, you will be paid at your base rate of pay for up to five working days (up to 40 hours maximum) that you are required to spend at court based on the normally scheduled hours worked for full-time and part-time employees. If you are dismissed early or not required to report for jury duty service on any of those days, you are expected to return to work. To be eligible for jury duty pay, you must furnish a statement from the court clerk indicating the time served on the jury. 

6.1.9 Community Service

First Environments will allow an employee, who has successfully completed his or her 90 day orientation period, up to 16 hours of paid leave for time that an employee has volunteered to perform services to an eligible charitable or cultural organization. A written request for such leave must be submitted no later than 30 days prior to beginning your service for approval by the Executive Director. Such request may be approved or denied for any reason at the Executive Director’s sole discretion. 

6.1.10 Personal Leaves of Absence (Non-FMLA) 

First Environments understands that in extenuating circumstances you may require time off from work for unique or extraordinary reasons that may not apply to other types of leave or when paid time off is unavailable. We will consider a personal leave of absence without pay for a minimum of five days and up to a maximum of 30 days. Consideration may be made for an extended period of time for education related leaves by a written request submitted to the Executive Director. If you are classified as a regular full-time employee who has completed at least 12 months of consecutive service, you are eligible to apply for a personal leave of absence. This leave is not able to be combined with or followed by another type of leave offered such as FMLA. 

Job performance, absenteeism, and Center requirements will all be taken into consideration before a request is approved. A written request for a personal leave of absence must be submitted to the Executive Director at least 30 days prior to the dates being requested. Requests for unpaid personal leaves of absence may be denied or granted for any reason by the Executive Director at the Executive Director’s sole discretion. 

You are required to return from the unpaid personal leave of absence on the originally scheduled return date. Upon the expiration of the leave, you will be returned to your former position, if available. If the position is not available, you may be offered another available position for which you are qualified. 

While on an approved personal leave, First Environments will pay its portion of the cost of your elected benefits for up to 30 days. You must continue to pay for your portion of elected benefit costs while on an approved personal leave of absence, by check, which must be submitted to the Center each pay period unless other arrangements have been made. If you fail to pay your portion of elected benefits as outlined, we will terminate your elected benefits and, when eligible, you will be offered COBRA to continue benefits. 

While out on leave, you will not continue to accrue Paid Time Off or be paid for Holidays or days in which the Center is closed. You will also not be eligible for Bereavement Leave.

 

Last updated: 1/26/2017