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Highline College Human Resources:  Administrative Handbook

Family and Medical Leave Policy (FMLA)

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides job protected leave and benefits coverage entitlements to employees who meet FMLA eligibility requirements. The entitlements and eligibility requirements are described below.

Family Member Definition

The FMLA has its own definition of "family member". For purposes of the FMLA, Highline College has adopted a common definition for "family member" that is more inclusive. Highline College's definition is as follows:

Family member means the employee's spouse or same or opposite sex domestic partner, child, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sister, or brother. Family member also means individuals in the following relationships with the employee's spouse or domestic partner: child, parent, or grandparent. It also includes those persons in a "step" relationship.

FMLA Eligibility

Generally, a qualifying leave (see next section) will be covered by the FMLA if an employee has worked for Highline College or the State of Washington at least 60% FTE for at least one year, and has not already used the annual 12 week FMLA leave entitlement.

More specifically, an employee is covered by the FMLA if he or she meets the following eligibility requirements:

  • Has completed 12-months of cumulative state service (or 52 weeks if the work is intermittent); and,
  • Worked for the state at least 1,250 hours*, including overtime, in the 12 months immediately preceding the date the FMLA leave will begin. (Working for the "state" includes University employment.) Except for military leave, paid and unpaid leave is not counted as part of the 1,250 hours*; and,
  • Has not already used the current year's 12 week FMLA leave entitlement.

*Hours worked are not counted for overtime exempt professional staff and for excepted classified staff. These employees are automatically considered to have worked 1250 hours unless the work records clearly reflect otherwise (for example - a 50% FTE employee will normally not have worked 1250 hours in a 12 month period).

Employee Leave Entitlements
The FMLA guarantees that an eligible employee can have job protected time off work as follows:
  1. Up to 12 workweeks of job protected time off work per year because of:

  1. A serious health condition
  2. A family member's serious health condition
  3. Parental leave to care for a newborn or newly adopted or placed child. (NOTE: for birth mothers, any period of pregnancy related temporary disability is not deducted from the 12 week parental leave entitlement)*
  4. Because of any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee's family member is on active duty (or has been notified of an impending call or order to active duty) in the Armed Forces in support of a contingency operation.


  1. If the employee is an eligible family member or next of kin the employee can have up to 26 workweeks of "Service Member Family Leave" during a single 12-month period to care for a covered service member who is:

If FMLA covered leave is taken under A and B above, the combination of leave taken may not exceed 26 work weeks in a 12 single month period. Where medically necessary leave may be taken on an intermittent basis or as a reduced work schedule

Husband and Wife: The combined number of workweeks of leave to which both that husband and wife may be entitled under "A4" and "B" above may be limited to a combined total of 26 workweeks during the single 12-month period.

*We do not allow employees to use sick leave for Parental leave (baby bonding), unless the incident qualifies for sick leave (recovery time after delivery, well baby doctor visits, actual illness of the child, etc.)

Employee Notice and Certification Requirements

Employees are expected to give at least 30 days notice of the need for leave, where the need for leave is foreseeable; or,

For leave under A4 in the preceding row of this table, when the need for is not foreseeable the employee must provide as much notice as is "reasonable and practicable".

Employers may require certification for the reason for taking FMLA covered leave. Contact the Human Resources Department for forms and assistance.

Use of Paid Leave

If the employee has paid leave or a personal holiday that the employee is eligible to use, the employee can choose to use it while on FMLA leave. If the employee has compensatory time available, the employee may be allowed to use it but the time on compensatory time is not deducted from the employee's FMLA leave entitlement. This is because compensatory time is not "leave" but is overtime pay that is being taken as time off.

Appropriate accumulated leave balances shall be used first, after which leave without pay shall be granted. If an employee has accumulated vacation or sick leave balances that can be used for the duration of the twelve (12) week period, additional unpaid Family and Medical Leave will not be granted.

Use of donated shared leave is normally covered by the FMLA, providing the employee meets the FMLA eligibility criteria.

Intermittent Leave or Working a Reduced Schedule

The FMLA guarantees an employee the right to take FMLA covered leave intermittently or as part of a reduced work schedule when medically necessary.

For parental leave, the supervisor may require that leave be taken in one continuous period of time away from work. Under state law, a birth mother's period of temporary pregnancy-related disability is not deducted from the 12-week FMLA leave entitlement.

Unpaid Leave

Under the FMLA, the employee is guaranteed time away from work. However, if the employee does not have available paid leave, the time off is taken as leave without pay.

Benefits Entitlements

During a leave covered by the FMLA, Highline College pays the employer-paid portion of medical benefits coverage for up to 12 workweeks or up to 26 workweeks for "B" in "Employee Leave Entitlements" above. The employee is responsible for any insurance co-payments, extra premiums to cover family members, life insurance, long term disability insurance, parking fees, or other payroll deductions.

For employees whose leave extends beyond the FMLA-covered period, employer paid medical benefits coverage is continued as long as the employee is in pay status for at least eight (8) hours during each month of leave. Employees who do not have appropriate paid leave to use may self pay in order to continue basic medical benefits coverage.

Return to Work Rights

The FMLA entitles an employee to return to the position held prior to the leave or to a position that is virtually identical (i.e. job title, work location, salary, work hours etc.).

Rolling "Twelve-month" Period

The "twelve-month" period used to determine when an employee is entitled to twelve (12) weeks of unpaid Family and Medical Leave will be determined by using a rolling twelve (12) month period measured forward from the date an employee's first Family and Medical Leave begins.  

(For example, if an employee took eight (8) weeks of Family and Medical Leave beginning on January 3, 2000, s/he would be eligible for only another four (4) weeks prior to the period ending January 2, 2001. On January 3, 2001, the employee would be eligible for another twelve (12) weeks. If the second occurrence began April 5, 2000, the employee would not be eligible again until April 5, 2001.)

Policies and Procedures

Table of Contents

Related information
  • Highline College Washington Administrative Code (WAC) WAC 1321

  • Community & Technical Colleges Revised Code of Washington (RCW)
    RCW 28B.50