Period of Leave
USA/MTA employees are eligible for the greatest benefit defined under the bargaining agreement, federal law, Massachusetts law and University policy. Job & benefits protected leave entitlements under federal law (including the federal Family Medical Leave Act/FMLA), state law (including the Massachusetts Parental Leave Act/MMLA and Massachusetts Paid Family Medical Leave/PFML), the collective bargaining agreement and university policy run concurrent:
- 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.
- PFML: provides up to 12 weeks of job and benefits protected leave for bonding with a child during the first 12 months of birth or their placement with a PFML-covered employee.
These entitlements provide unpaid job and benefits-protected leave during which you may use various types of accrued time to secure income. Refer to Income While On Leave for more information. 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 Departmental HR Coordinator 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
During the first 2 weeks of parental leave immediately following the birth/adoption/placement of your child, your leave is paid without use of accrued time. These 2 weeks of income security are shared by both parents if both parents work for the University and are pro-rated based on part-time or alternate work schedules.
During approved parental leave thereafter you may use accrued vacation, personal time and/or compensatory time to secure income (or choose to request unpaid leave). USA/MTA Sick Leave Bank members may apply for income security from the Bank.
Request of Unpaid Leave
You may request unpaid leave during which , if you wish, you may seek partial income replacement under the Massachusetts Paid Family Medical Leave (PFML), a benefit administrated by the Massachusetts Department of Family Medical Leave (DFML). If approved for income under the PFML you will be on an unpaid leave from the university for that period of time. Please contact the DFML for more information on the PFML benefit and please carefully review the impact of unpaid leave on benefits.
Impact of Parental Leave on Benefits
Paid Leave (while on a leave paid via University payroll such as use of accrued time and sick leave bank):
Your normal payroll deductions will continue while you are on paid leave. This includes contributions toward insurance and retirement.
Dependent Care Assistance Program: Please reference the FSA Handbook for important details. IRS regulations state that you must be at work in order to incur DCAP-eligible expenses.
Unpaid Leave (while on a leave not paid via University payroll such as collecting PFML benefits):
- GIC Health Insurance: you are responsible for paying 100% of the health insurance premium unless your leave is covered under the FMLA or MA Parental Leave Act (MMLA). If FMLA or MMLA eligible, you are responsible for paying your regular contribution toward insurance premium(s). The Massachusetts Group Insurance Commission (GIC) will invoice you at home for premiums that are not payroll-deducted. Be sure to return payment timely to the GIC to keep coverage(s) intact. If your GIC health insurance is canceled 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 canceled 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: Please reference the FSA Handbook for important details. Generally 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 this option, 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 company while on leave. This process must be requested directly of the GIC's FSA 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: Please reference the FSA Handbook for important details. 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.
- Corestream deductions (eg Met Home/Auto insurance): You must to contact your Corestream vendor directly to arrange for payment of premiums not payroll-deducted.
- 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 may add your child(ren) to your GIC health insurance plan within 60 days of birth/adoption/placement of a child in your foster care by submitting your request and supporting documentation to the GIC within 60 days of your child(s) birth/adoption/placement. To do this you may complete and submit a GIC Insurance Enrollment and Change Form (Form 1) and proof of birth/adoption/placement of a child in your foster care to the UMass Human Resources Employee Service Center, complete this process online using MyGICLink (uploading supporting documentation) or via the MyGICLink Portal (selecting 'qualifying event' > 'birth/adoption') and completing the enrollment process online. 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.
If moving from an individual to a family health insurance plan the GIC will invoice you at home for additional premium retroactively due (premiums are available in the GIC’s Benefits Decision Guide).
- Dental Insurance: complete and submit the BHE/MTA Enrollment/Change Form to the HRESC within 30 days of birth/adoption/placement in order to add your child to your dental insurance plan effective with the date of birth/adoption/placement.
- 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 Enrollment/Change form (online at bit.ly/MyGICLink) 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 submitting a "Change In Status" request form online with Benefits Strategies within 30 days of birth or adoption.
- 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.
- 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.