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State and federal statutes provide you with the right to take job-protected leave with continued medical benefits for the times in your career when you need time off from work to care for yourself or a family member who is seriously ill or to care for a newborn or newly adopted child. These laws are the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave Act (WFMLA).

For basic information about the state and federal law:

The University of Wisconsin policy for unclassified employees on family and medical leave is included in Unclassified Personnel Guideline #10 where the use of sick leave is addressed.  Sections 3, 10, and 19 of ch. UWS, Wisconsin Administrative Code, provide Board of Regents policies for university faculty and academic staff.

As a University of Wisconsin employee, you may be governed by more generous leave rules through University Policy Guidelines, State Administrative Code, or applicable collective bargaining agreement.  Leave taken for FMLA-eligible reasons must run concurrently under FMLA, WFMLA and other leave available to university employees.  Thus, the leave available under the various provisions is exhausted simultaneously.

To understand how the integration of laws with state and university policies, please contact the Cooperative Extension Human Resources Office @ 608-265-3373.



  • Defined as leave taken in separate periods of time or a reduced work schedule due to a single qualifying reason.
  • Example:  Medical leave taken several days at a time spread over a period of months, due to chemotherapy.
  • You are not entitled to intermittent leave to care for your child after birth or placement for adoption or foster care unless you and your employer agree to such leave.


Two new categories of FMLA were recently enacted and may apply to an employee who has a service member in their immediate family member.

  • Injured Servicemember Leave allows you to take up to 26 weeks of leave in a single calendar year to care for a servicemember who incurred a serious injury or illness while on active duty in the United States Armed Forces. The servicemember must be your spouse, parent, child or next of kin. You may take 26 weeks total for all FMLA-qualifying reasons, and the 26 weeks is available during one calendar year only. The regular 12 week limit applies for all FMLA leave except to provide care for the servicemember. You may take this leave intermittently.
  • Active Duty Family Leave allows you to take up to 12 weeks of FMLA leave if you experience “any qualifying exigency” if your spouse, parent, or child has been called to or are serving on active duty in the United States Armed Forces. Pending regulations from the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor will define a “qualifying exigency.” This category of FMLA leave is not yet effective; however, employers are encouraged to grant vacation and unpaid leaves under existing rules and labor agreements in the spirit most consistent with this Active Duty Family Leave provision.

You are entitled to use family and medical leaves in non-continuous increments equal to the shortest increments your employer permits for any other non-emergency leave (e.g., hours, half-day, day) without unnecessary disruption of your workplace operations.  You are expected to provide your employer with a proposed schedule with reasonable promptness after you learn of the necessity of the leave.


You are entitled to use family and medical leave in non-continuous increments:

  1. For your own or a family member's serious health condition when medically necessary
  2. To care for a servicemember who incurred serious illness or injury while on active duty
  3. For any qualifying exigency due to an immediate family member who is on or is called to active duty.


Your employer will return you to the same position or an equivalent position after the end of the leave with no loss in pay, benefits, or other terms and conditions of employment.  Exception:  If you were hired for a specific term or project and the employment term or project ended prior to leave expiring, you have no re-employment rights.

Your employer must maintain your group health coverage under the same conditions as existed prior to the leave.  You must continue to pay the employee's share, if any, of the health insurance premium.  If you do not return from leave or terminate your employment within 30 days of returning, your employer may recover the health insurance premiums paid during the leave.


Family and medical leave does not constitute a break in continuous service for faculty (ch. UWS 3.04(3), Wis. Admin. Code) or academic staff (UWS 10.3(2)(a)3, Wis. Admin. Code).  When the leave is due to childbirth or adoption, or significant responsibilities with respect to your own or a family member's disability or chronic illness or a qualifying exigency, and those circumstances could significantly impede progress toward achieving tenure, that leave is not included in the seven-year probationary period. Faculty and academic staff may be granted up to a year probationary extension for the birth or adoption of a child. 

Example:  A faculty member has been on probationary status for a total of nine years because s/he was granted two requests for one-year extensions because of the birth of two children.  The faculty member's teaching, research, professional and public service and contribution to the institution is evaluated as if only seven years were worked towards achieving tenure, rather than 9 years worked toward this achievement.


  • Designate the leave as FMLA-qualifying
  • Provide you with a notice explaining the rights and obligations under FMLA and WFMLA and any consequences of a failure to meet the obligations.



Leave available during the calendar year for classified employees or fiscal year for unclassified employees must be used within that year.  If not used, your entitlement to the leave expires at the end of the year.  You may qualify for a new entitlement when the new fiscal year (calendar year for classified employees) begins, depending on hours worked in the previous year.


Your entitlement to family leave for birth, adoption or foster placement expires 12 months after the date of birth or placement. Your entitlement to leave to care for an injured or ill Servicemember provides 26 weeks of leave in a single year. This leave is limited to one calendar year (for classified employees) or one fiscal year (for unclassified employees).





Some of this information was taken from the University of Wisconsin System - Human Resources and Workforce Diversity Office.