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1) use accrued vacation leave, personal holiday, compensatory time, and/or PTO, as applicable;
2) go on an unpaid leave of absence without first using paid leaves; or
3) request contributions of vacation leave from other employees through the County’s leave sharing program (you must use your accrued vacation, PTO, and compensatory time before qualifying for shared leave).
If your unpaid military leave is thirty days or less, your medical coverage will remain in place.
If your unpaid military leave is longer than thirty days:
For employees covered by the County’s self-insured medical plan (HMA), the County will continue to provide coverage for you, your spouse, and your dependents for up to 18 months of unpaid military leave. This coverage will be provided under the terms of your collective bargaining agreement or the Unrepresented Resolution, whichever applies to you. The County’s medical plan excludes coverage for treatment while serving in the armed forces or treatment made necessary as a result of war, but for all other covered medical needs, and for your family, your coverage will be intact.
If military leave is longer than 18 months, you may elect to self-pay COBRA premiums to extend your HMA coverage. If you choose to discontinue County coverage during military leave, your coverage will be reinstated the month you return to active employment, with no waiting period.
For employees covered by the Teamsters medical plan, the terms of this plan do not permit employer-paid coverage while the employee is on unpaid military leave. You may elect to self-pay COBRA premiums, and, as with HMA, if you choose to discontinue County coverage, you will have coverage reinstated the month you return to active employment, with no waiting period.
If you are in unpaid status, you may continue coverage as follows:
1) dental and vision insurance through COBRA;
2) life insurance coverage by converting to an individual policy;
3) long-term disability insurance coverage, if applicable, via billing from the County’s Finance division.
Employees may take leave leading up to a spouse’s deployment or during a spouse’s leave from deployment: The Washington State Military Family Leave Law provides that spouses of military personnel can take up to 15 days unpaid leave per deployment before and up to deployment, or while their spouse is on leave from deployment, during times of military conflict declared by the President or Congress. You may use vacation, PTO, sick leave, personal holiday, or compensatory time if available; otherwise, the time is taken as leave without pay. To take leave under this provision, you must work an average of 20 or more hours per workweek, and must notify your supervisor within five business days of receiving the official notice of a spouse’s leave or impending call to active duty.
Family members may take “qualifying exigency” leave, related to deployment or active duty:The federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) contains provisions for “Qualifying Exigency Leave.” This allows an eligible employee to take unpaid time off to handle urgent matters arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is on active duty, or has been notified of an impending call or order to active duty, in support of a contingency operation.
“Qualifying exigencies” include: issues arising from a covered military member’s short notice deployment; military events and related activities; certain childcare and related activities; making or updating financial and legal arrangements to address a covered military member’s absence; attending counseling related to the call to active duty; spending time with a covered military member during short-term R & R leave during deployment; and attending to certain post-deployment activities. An eligible employee is entitled to take up to 12 workweeks of leave during a “single 12-month period” to handle qualifying exigencies. You are an “eligible employee” under the FMLA if you have worked for Whatcom County for at least 12 months, and if you have at least 1,250 work hours in the past 12 months. See the County’s FMLA Policy for additional information about the FMLA.
Family members may take “military caregiver leave” leave to care for an ill or injured military member:The federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) contains provisions for Military Caregiver Leave. This allows an eligible employee who is the spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin of a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness to take job-protected FMLA leave to provide care to the servicemember.
You are an “eligible employee” under the FMLA if you have worked for Whatcom County for at least 12 months, and if you have at least 1,250 work hours in the past 12 months. See the County’s FMLA Policy for additional information about the FMLA.
A “covered servicemember” is a current member of the Armed Forces, including a member of the National Guard or Reserves, who is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy, is otherwise in outpatient status, or is otherwise on the temporary disability retired list, for a serious injury or illness incurred in the line of duty on active duty.
An eligible employee is entitled to take up to 26 workweeks of leave during a “single 12-month period” to care for a seriously injured or ill covered servicemember. The “single 12-month period” begins on the first day the eligible employee takes military caregiver leave, and ends 12 months after that date. Employees taking military caregiver leave are entitled to a combined total of 26 weeks of all types of FMLA leave in the single 12-month period.