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Author Topic: FMLA or other solutions for family illness  (Read 8692 times)
bassethound
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« on: November 28, 2011, 12:32:50 AM »

I have a family member who will undergo surgery in a few months. As the primary caregiver in the immediate family, I am expected to take care of this person after their surgery. It's unclear at this point whether or not the surgery will be risky and result in months of rehabilitation, or if it might be just a couple of weeks of hospitalization then a couple of weeks of rehab.

This family member has told me they only need my help for 2-3 weeks. I've seen how being gone for that length of time can affect my teaching evaluations.

I'm not sure I need to take FMLA, but I am nervous about what happens if I don't.  I don't know whether my administration would support 'unofficial leave' (relying on other faculty to cover 2-3 weeks of classes in the best case surgery recovery scenario), and I'm not sure what the alternative is.

How does FMLA work for faculty, anyways? How far in advance do you have to arrange it, and who covers your classes, and what's the deal with sick/vacation time (which I don't even think apply for faculty)?

Advice, anecdotes, solutions you've seen work and not work. . . Thanks!
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melba_frilkins
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« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2011, 1:41:45 AM »

You can google for the general and minimal guidelines that FMLA requires for all workplaces. But the specific implementation will depend on your campus. For example, you may be required to use any accrued sick leave as part of your FMLA leave. How to apply and how quickly you can leave will depend on your campus (here it could take up to 7-8 weeks because it has to go through a board meeting, and they only meet once a month). Do keep in mind that applying doesn't mean you have to take the leave, but it just starts to open up the process for you.

As for 2-3 weeks of "unofficial leave": I would NOT recommend to try that unless you are absolutely sure that's a normal part of your campus culture. If the administration found out that I had unofficially arranged to be gone for 2 weeks, that would be a big problem! Or wait, do you mean you would tell the administration you need to be gone, but won't make it official by declaring it "FMLA" leave?
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macaroon
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« Reply #2 on: November 28, 2011, 10:03:01 AM »

First, bassethound, a couple of questions:  1) Do you live locally to the family member, or will you need to leave home to care for this person and 2) Are you tenure-track, and if so, does your institution have a "stop the clock" policy?

Regarding #2, if the answers are yes, you'll definitely want to at least apply for FMLA. 

As for #1, if the individual is local to you, you have the option of "part time" FMLA.  You wouldn't have to fully leave your teaching duties, which might help with getting along with your department. 

If you are not local, and you are expected to care for this individual, you could consider having the person transferred to a hospital in your area for care. 

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bassethound
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« Reply #3 on: November 29, 2011, 12:14:34 PM »

To melba: I would only do an unofficial leave if my administration gave their blessing. I have heard of other faculty doing this.

macaroon: This family member is over 1,000 miles away. I assume my school has a stop the clock policy -- I am TT, and I haven't heard of anyone doing, but perhaps it is just because no one has told me they've done it. I thought stopping the clock was only an option for things that last a semester or more?

I have thought of having them transferred to my area for care, but then that would put the burden entirely on me, as opposed to having family friends help out after I've left. It seems a little drastic to transfer this family member for just a couple of weeks (especially if they'll be in pain).

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fleabite
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« Reply #4 on: November 29, 2011, 7:14:42 PM »

This family member has told me they only need my help for 2-3 weeks. I've seen how being gone for that length of time can affect my teaching evaluations.

Could you limit your leave to one week and arrange for private nursing for the remaining time period? You could then make another visit to the family member at the next school vacation or at the end of the semester, to give them support during the later part of the recuperation. (Some local support options must exist as many people do not have relatives who can care for them during an illness. Although ideally one would always be able to support a family member in need, for whatever amount of time they needed, it is not always possible.)
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