Family and Medical Leave

The Family and Medical Leave Acts, both the federal FMLA and the District of Columbia (DC) FMLA, provide unpaid, job-protected leave to eligible employees who need leave due to certain family and medical situations.  FMLA leave can be requested to cover a continuous period of time, intermittently or on a reduced work schedule. Paid time off can be used during FMLA to retain paid status. 

Review the Time Off and Leave Guide (PDF) for details about FMLA, including eligibility, coordination with paid time off, employee rights and responsibilities and more. 

Temporary DC FMLA Amendment due to COVID-19

During the public health emergency, under the DC FMLA, an employee who has worked for 30 days for an employer of any size may use up to 16 weeks of “COVID-19” leave for expanding reasons as outlined in the attached poster (PDF).



To qualify for family or medical leave, you must meet certain conditions:

  • You must have worked at the university for a period totaling 12 months. Periods of employment prior to a break in service of less than seven years are allowed to count towards eligibility.

  • Under the DC FMLA, you must have been paid for at least 1,000 hours during the 12 month period immediately preceding the beginning of your leave.

  • Under the federal FMLA, you must have worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12 month period immediately preceding the beginning of your leave.

Federal FMLA and DC FMLA run concurrently and cannot be used consecutively if leave is covered under both laws.


Qualifying reasons under the FMLA include:

  • The birth, adoption or foster care placement of a child
  • The employee’s own serious health condition
  • The care of a family member who has a serious health condition

The federal FMLA also permits eligible employees to take military family leave for:

  • A qualifying exigency related to the fact that the employee’s spouse, child or parent is on or has been called to active duty
  • The care of a covered service member or veteran with a serious injury or illness incurred in the line of active duty

Under the DC FMLA, eligible employees are permitted up to 16 workweeks of family leave and 16 workweeks of medical leave during a 24 month period.

Under the federal FMLA, eligible employees are permitted up to a total of 12 workweeks of family and medical leave during a 12 month period or up to 26 workweeks during a single 12 month period for military caregiver leave. An eligible employee is limited to a combined total of 26 workweeks of leave for any federal FMLA-qualifying reason during the “single 12-month period.

Coordination with Paid Time Off

FMLA provides job protection; however, it does not provide pay. Employees can elect to use their accrued annual and sick time during approved FMLA leave to remain in paid status. Employees can also elect to take FMLA unpaid.

Benefits Continuation

Employees may choose to either continue or cancel eligible benefits during unpaid leave. Benefits continuation (PDF) varies between the leaves of absence. 

Cancelations of benefits during a continuous, unpaid leave are done via the EasyEnroll System

Premium Remittance 

The university requires employees on unpaid leave to pay for their benefits premiums through Payer Express, GW’s online payment system.

If applicable, Benefits will provide instructions on how to log in and enroll in a Payer Express account in order to remit payment for benefits premiums during unpaid leave.  

Please note that if you do not pay your portion of benefits premiums, your benefits may be canceled effective the end of the month following your last payment or deduction.

Returning to Work

Please contact your Human Resources Representative prior to your return to work. Failure to notify HR of your impending return to work may negatively affect payroll and benefits processing.

Fitness for Duty

If you were out on FMLA leave for your own serious health condition, you will be required to present an authorization to return to work (PDF) prior to reinstatement. If such authorization is not received in a timely fashion, your return to work may be delayed until authorization is provided.

Benefits Enrollment

Upon return to active employment, you may re-enroll in any canceled benefits within 30 calendar days of returning to work via the EasyEnroll System. If no election is made, your next opportunity to enroll will be during open enrollment or within 30 calendar days of a Qualified Life Event (QLE).

How to Apply

Contact Lincoln Financial (PDF) at least 30 days prior to the start of your leave (when foreseeable) or as soon as possible. 

Helpful Resources