Period of Leave
AFSCME members who become biological, adoptive or foster parents of a child under five years of age may be eligible for job-and-benefits-protected leave under the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and/or the Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act (MMLA). As an FMLA and MMLA-eligible employee, upon request, you receive the greatest benefit available under the law:
- FMLA: up to 12 weeks of leave. FMLA eligibility requires that you have worked:
- for the University for 12 or more months, and
- no fewer than 1,250 hours in the 12 months preceding your leave.Your department will provide you will provide you written confirmation of your employment and insurance protections under the FMLA in response to your request for parental leave.
- MMLA: up to 8 weeks of leave per child (if employed full-time by the University for at least 3 months). The University provides this benefit to both male and female employees. Leave beyond 8 weeks applies if more than one child is born, adopted or placed in foster care.
You may request to use this leave in preparation for the birth/adoption of your child or for care of your child following birth/adoption.
How to apply for leave
In order to apply for a parental leave you must:
Step 1: Submit a written, signed, and dated request for leave to your indicating:
- the dates for which you are requesting leave and the date you intend to return to work,
- how you are requesting that time and attendance be submitted if your leave is approved (e.g., vacation, unpaid leave, etc.), and
- if requesting an intermittent leave, the work schedule you propose.
Step 2: The letter must be accompanied by a medical documentation confirming the date your child is due or legal documentation confirming the date placement in foster care or adoption is effective.
Step 3: During your leave you must remain in contact with your supervisor about your medical progress and/or changes in your leave situation and intention to return to your University position.
Legal services for adoption/placement of a child in foster care may be provided through the MetLegal plan (Open enrollment for this plan occurs each May for coverage the following July 1 – June 30.)
Income while on leave
You receive 2 weeks of paid parental leave that does not reduce your accrued time (called “allowed time”) for the first 2 weeks immediately following birth, adoption or placement of a child in foster care. These 2 weeks are shared by both parents if both parents work for the University and are pro-rated based on part-time or alternate work schedules.
Following use of “allowed time” you may use accrued vacation or personal leave to provide continued income during your leave (or choose to request unpaid leave). If you have given birth, you may use accrued sick leave if the medical need is documented by a physician. FMLA, MMLA and corresponding parental and family leaves run concurrent with one another when the qualifying event is the same.
Impact of Parental Leave on Benefits
Paid Leave (while on a leave paid via University payroll):
Your normal payroll deductions will continue while you are on paid leave. This includes contributions toward insurance
Dependent Care Assistance Program: IRS regulations state that you must be at work in order to incur DCAP-eligible
Unpaid Leave (while on a leave not paid via University payroll):
- GIC Health Insurance: you are responsible for paying 100% of the health insurance premium unless your leave is covered under the FMLA or MMLA. If FMLA or MMLA eligible, you are responsible for paying your regular contribution toward insurance premium(s). To request continuation of your GIC health insurance at the employee rate, complete and submit a GIC Application for Continuation of Part Cost Premium (link) to the HRESC.The Massachusetts Group Insurance Commission (GIC) will invoice you at home. Return payment directly to the GIC to keep coverage(s) intact. If your GIC health insurance is cancelled due to non-payment you may be unable to re-establish coverage until the next open enrollment (end-of-April/beginning-of-May for coverage effective July 1.)
- GIC Optional Life and Long-Term Disability Insurance: the GIC will bill you for the premium that would have been deducted from your bi-weekly paycheck. You must make full and timely payment to the GIC to keep coverage(s) intact. If your GIC Optional Life and/or Long-term Disability insurance is cancelled due to non-payment you may be unable to re-establish that coverage without passing a medical proof of insurability exam.
- Health Care Spending Account: you may not incur expenses eligible for HSCA reimbursement during an unpaid leave & bi-weekly deductions upon return to University payroll will be increased to meet your full annual election amount.Alternatively you may either:
* Arrange with UMass Human Resources to have a pre-tax deduction lump sum taken from your last check before
the unpaid leave starts. The deduction must cover the period of leave during which no payroll deductions are
being taken. With thisoption, your flex debit card remains active and you are able to continue using your
HCSA funds and submit claims;
* Arrange with the GIC's Flexible Spending Account vendor to pay your contributions and administration fees directly to that vendor
while on leave. This process must be requested directly of the GIC's flexible spending account vendor before your unpaid leave starts. You will be invoiced every two weeks. Premiums may be paid by check or money
order no later than the pay date on which the contribution would have been payroll-deducted. If payments are
made timely the flex debit card remains active and you may continue to incur eligible expenses. Direct bill
payments are post-tax.
- Dependent Care Assistance Program: IRS regulations state that you must be at work in order to incur DCAP-eligible expenses. Payroll deductions will resume upon return to work at an increased level in order to meet the annual election amount.
- Creditable service toward retirement begins accruing upon your return from unpaid leave.
- Accrued paid leave: you will begin accruing sick and vacation time upon return from unpaid leave.
- Met Home/Auto/Legal coverages: You must to contact Met Life to arrange for payment of home, auto and/or legal insurance premium if you normally pay premium via payroll deduction (800.438.6388).
- University Parking: if you have payroll-deduction for your University parking payments, please contact the Parking Office to inquire into alternative payment arrangements.
- Union Dues: please contact your Union representative
- Voluntary 403(b) and 457 “SMART” Plan contributions: will begin again upon your return from unpaid leave.
- College Savings Program (529 plan): direct deposit of 529 contributions discontinues while on unpaid leave and resume when you return from unpaid leave.
Benefits Changes to Consider
- There are a number of benefits changes you may wish to consider when a new family member arrives. Human Resources representatives are available in room 325 Whitmore Administration Building to assist you with these items:
- GIC Health Insurance: You must submit complete paperwork to add your child(ren) to your health insurance plan within 30 days of the birth/adoption/placement in foster care for coverage retroactive to the birth/adoption/placement and, if moving from an individual to a family health insurance plan, you must also provide a check or money order made out to the GIC for the additional premium due. (premiums are available in the GIC’s Benefits Decision Guide) and we can help you calculate this premium at the Human Resources Employee Service Center (HRESC).To add your child(ren) to your GIC health insurance plan complete and submit the following forms at the HRESC with proof of your child(ren)’s birth/adoption/placement: GIC Insurance Enrollment and Change Form (Form 1) to change health insurance coverage from single to family coverage, to add your dependent to your health insurance and to elect or increase optional life insurance coverage (see below).. While the GIC will require your child(ren)’s U.S. Social Security number, please do not delay submitting this form and supporting documentation while awaiting that number.
- Dental Insurance: contact MA Public Employees' Fund within 30 days of birth/adoption/placement in order to add your child to your dental and vision insurance plans.
- GIC Optional Life Insurance: within 31 days of the birth or adoption you may enroll or increase your Optional Life Insurance coverage up to four times salary without passing a medical evidence of insurability exam. Proof of birth or adoption is required. Premiums are available in the GIC’s Benefits Decision Guide Complete and submit the GIC Insurance Enrollment and Change Form (Form 1) to the HRESC to request this change.
- Health Care Spending Account (HCSA) and Dependent Care Assistance Program (DCAP): you may wish to enroll in (or increase your contributions to) either of these tax savings programs by completing the FSA Enrollment/Change Form and providing proof of a related qualifying event to the HRESC within 30 days of that qualifying event.
- College Savings Program (529 plan): two post-tax 529 college savings programs managed by Fidelity are available via payroll deduction. Learn more about 529 plans at www.savingforcollege.com. Enroll or obtain more information on-line at https://www.fidelity.com/massachusetts-529/
- Beneficiaries: you may wish to change the beneficiary(ies) for various benefits you carry:
- GIC basic and optional life insurance beneficiaries: please come to the HRESC or call the GIC at (617) 727-2310 extension 1 or TDD/TTY (617) 227-8583 for the appropriate Nomination of Beneficiary form.
- State Employees’ Retirement System: SERS Beneficiary Form or SERS Option D Form (more information about SERS beneficiaries vs Option D beneficiaries available on-line at When Option D Comes Before Option C)
- Optional Retirement Program, 403(b) and/or 457 plans: contact your vendor directly to change your beneficiary for these account(s).
- Legal services for creation/amendment of your will and/or trust may be provided through the MetLegal plan (Open enrollment for this plan occurs each May for coverage the following July 1 – June 30” (with link to pdf overview of the plan)
- UMass Amherst Center for Early Education and Care (CEEC) provides both childcare and childcare resources to members of the University community. Contact CEEC at (413) 545-1566 with questions about services and enrollment.
GuidanceResources: ComPsych GuidanceResources provides University employees access to qualified
referrals and customized resources regarding child care & college planning, telephone access to certified
financial planners regarding estate planning & saving for college, and a host of on-line articles regarding
navigating changes in family status & raising a family. Contact GuidanceResources at 844.393.4983
(TTD 800.697.0353) or on-line at guidanceresources.com (Company Web ID: UMASS)
- You may wish to change your Massachusetts and/or Federal income tax withholding/exemptions. Please contact a tax specialist or financial advisor if you require tax advice.