IMRF and the FMLA
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires certain public employers to give eligible employees time off to care for newborn or newly adopted children, for seriously ill family members, for the employee's own illness, for a relative injured during active military duty, or any qualifying emergency related to a family member's call-up to active military duty.
Eligible employees are entitled to a total of 12 weeks of FMLA leave each year (26 weeks for relatives injured during active military duty).
FMLA Effects on Death and Disability Benefits
IMRF members on FMLA leave will remain eligible for IMRF disability and death benefits if the member was eligible for those benefits when the leave began. FMLA leave will not interrupt IMRF disability and death benefit protection.
The usual disability rules require an IMRF member to have 12 months of continuous service credit to be eligible for IMRF disability benefits. This rule will not apply if a member's gap in IMRF service is due to an FMLA leave.
FMLA Effects on Retirement Benefits
IMRF members on FMLA leave will not earn pension service credit for the month(s) in which they are not paid. If a member on FMLA leave wishes to receive IMRF pension service credit, the member must apply for an IMRF Benefit Protection Leave and pay the member contributions and any applicable interest.
FMLA Effects on Benefit Protection Leave
An IMRF Benefit Protection Leave usually is granted at the discretion of the employer. However, if a member on FMLA leave requests an IMRF Benefit Protection Leave, FMLA regulations require the employer to grant the IMRF Leave, if the employer ever granted an IMRF Leave to any member in the past.
However, if an employer has never granted an IMRF Benefit Protection Leave and a member on FMLA requests one, the employer is not required to grant the leave.
A member is allowed to establish a maximum of 12 months of benefit protection leave over his or her entire IMRF career.