2019 - 2023 ESCMemorandum of Understanding: Article 8: Leaves of Absence
What’s on this Page
- 8.1 Vacation
- 8.2 Part-Time Vacation Accrual
- 8.3 Vacation Accrual Rates
- 8.4 Reappointment
- 8.5 Vacation Schedule
- 8.6 Separation Payment
- 8.7 Holidays – Paid
- 8.8 Elimination of Floating Holidays and Holiday Eve Hours
- 8.9 Holidays – Observed
- 8.10 Holiday Compensation
- 8.11 Sick Leave Accrual
- 8.12 Sick Leave Usage
- 8.12.1 Sick Leave Use - Non-FMLA/CFRA/PDL Leave
- 8.12.2 Sick Leave Use - FMLA/CFRA/PDL Qualifying Leave
- 8.13 Sick Leave – Required Documentation
- 8.14 Sick Leave Conversion / Distribution
- 8.15 Change in Employment Status – Extra Help to Allocated / Allocated to Extra Help
- 8.16 Time Off for Voting
- 8.17 Compassionate Leave
- 8.18 Court Leave
- 8.19 Jury Duty
- 8.20 Disaster Leave
- 8.21 Leaves of Absence Without Pay Usage Reference Table
- 8.22 Family Care and Medical Leave
- 8.22.2 Eligibility
- 8.22.3 Family Care and Medical Leave Entitlement
- 8.22.4 Family Care and Medical Leave to Care for a Covered Service Member With a Service Injury or Illness
- 8.22.5 Pay Status and Benefits
- 8.22.6 Relationship of Family Care and Medical Leave to Other Leaves
- 8.22.7 Relationship to Pregnancy Disability Leave
- 8.22.8 Notice to the County
- 8.22.9 Medical Certification
- 8.22.10 Employee's Status on Returning From Leave
- 8.22.11 FMLA/CFRA Procedures, Definitions and Forms
- 8.23 Family School Partnership Act
- 8.24 No Break in Service
- 8.25 Leave Time Off for Donating Blood
- 8.26 Vacation Savings Plan
- 8.27 Voluntary Time Off (VTO) Program
- 8.28 Paid Parental Leave
- 8.28.1 Eligibility
- 8.28.2 Benefits and Use
- 8.28.3 Coordination of Benefits and Leave
- 8.28.4 Implementation Questions
Each Employee who has completed the In-Service hours provided for in Section 8.3 below shall accrue leave at the appropriate rate specified in that Section. In-Service hours include all hours in paid status excluding overtime. Rates specified in Section 8.3 will be adjusted to reflect any time in unpaid status in each pay period.
Pursuant to California Labor Code Section 227.3, all leave accrued in excess of 280 hours shall not vest and is subject to forfeiture upon termination or separation from County employment.
8.2 Part-Time Vacation Accrual
Part-time employees shall accrue vacation leave on a pro-rata basis; usage and accrual shall be governed by the same rules and regulations applicable to full-time employees.
8.3 Vacation Accrual Rates
Vacation Accrual Rates
Effective July 30, 2019, for each employee who has completed the following In-Service hours shall accrue vacation leave at the appropriate rate shown below. In-Service hours include all hours in paid status excluding overtime. Rates shown below will be adjusted to reflect any unpaid time in each pay period.
|YEARS OF COMPLETED FULL-TIME SERVICE||IN-SERVICE HOURS OF COMPLETED SERVICE||RATE FOR 80 IN-SERVICE HOURS||MAXIMUM ACCUMULATED HOURS (VESTED)||MAXIMUM ACCUMULATED HOURS (UNVESTED)||MAXIMUM ACCUMULATED HOURS (VESTED and UNVESTED)|
|0 - 5 years||0 to 10,434||4.94||280||20||300|
|5 - 10 years||10,435 to 20,870||5.25||280||20||300|
|10 - 15 years||20,871 to 31,305||6.48||280||20||300|
|15 - 20 years||31,306 to 41,741||7.09||280||20||300|
|20 - 25 years||41,742 to 52,177||7.70||280||20||300|
|25 or greater years||52,178 or more||8.01||280||20||300|
Each employee with 10,435 working hours (five (5) or more years) in paid status who resigns in good standing and who is later reappointed, within two years of the resignation, shall be credited with 4,174 hours (two years) of continuous service for purposes of new vacation accrual. Each employee with 10,435 In-Service hours (five or more years) of continuous service who was laid off and who is later recalled from layoff within two years shall be returned to the place on the accrual table (in Section 8.3, above) that the employee occupied when laid off.
8.5 Vacation Schedule
Vacation schedules shall be arranged by the Department Head with particular regard to the needs of the service, and whenever possible, with regard to the wishes of the employee.
Every effort shall be made to arrange vacation schedules so that each employee will take as much vacation in each year as accrues to the employee in that year. Each employee’s vacation time may be so divided as the needs of the service require or permit. No employee may take vacation without advance approval of the department head or appointing authority. No employee may take vacation leave in advance of that actually accumulated by the employee at the time such leave is taken. When an employee is restricted on the use of vacation time during a certain month, or months, of the year, due to the needs of the County, the County shall make every reasonable effort to accommodate the employee’s request(s) to use vacation time during other months of the year.
8.6 Separation Payment
Each employee who is separated from the County service shall be entitled to payment in lieu of all unused vacation leave which the employee may have accumulated as of the employee’s last day of work and shall be computed on the basis of such employee’s base hourly rate at the time of termination.
8.7 Holidays – Paid
The County shall provide full-time and part-time County employees the following paid holidays, provided that an employee is in paid status on the employee’s last regularly scheduled workday before the holiday, and the employee’s first regularly scheduled workday after the holiday.
- New Year's Day, January 1st *
- Martin Luther King’s Birthday, 3rd Monday in January
- Lincoln’s Birthday, February 12th *
- Washington’s Birthday, 3rd Monday in February
- Cesar Chavez Day, March 31st *
- Memorial Day, the last Monday in May
- Independence Day, July 4th *
- Labor Day, the first Monday in September
- Veteran’s Day, November 11th *
- Thanksgiving Day, the 4th Thursday in November, or as designated by the President *
- The day following Thanksgiving Day *
- Christmas Day, December 25th *
- Each day appointed by the Governor of the State of California and formally recognized by the Board of Supervisors of Sonoma County as a day of mourning, Thanksgiving or special observance.
* Date Specific Holidays
An employee on leave without pay who has paid leave remaining (including vacation, sick leave or compensatory time), shall not be permitted to use paid leave as paid status days before or after a holiday for the purpose of receiving holiday pay.
8.8 Elimination of Floating Holidays and Holiday Eve Hours
The entitlement to and accrual of floating holiday and holiday eve hours is suspended effective June 30, 2013, and eliminated effective June 30, 2014. (The 2013 savings realized by suspending the entitlement to and accrual of floating holiday and holiday eve hours was credited toward the 3% total compensation reduction negotiated in the 2013-2016 MOU. Effective July 1, 2014, the floating holiday and holiday eve hours are converted to vacation accrual, as shown in Section 8.3.) Hours accrued prior to the elimination of floating holiday hours and holiday eve hours will remain in the Compensatory Bank, and may be taken as time off on a day mutually agreeable to the employee and the Department Head and may not be cashed out. Only an employee who is separated from County service shall be entitled to payment for any remaining hours with the Compensatory Bank at the employee’s base hourly rate at the time of the employee’s separation.
8.9 Holidays – Observed
If a date-specific holiday listed in Section 8.7 falls on a Saturday, the preceding Friday shall be the County observed holiday. If a date-specific holiday listed in Section 8.7 falls on a Sunday, the following Monday shall be the County observed holiday. All other date-specific holidays shall be observed on the date specified in Section 8.7.
8.10 Holiday Compensation
- Full-Time Employees
A full-time employee whose assigned work schedule does not include either the date-specific holiday or the County observed holiday, shall observe the holiday (and not work) on one of the employee’s regularly scheduled work days during (1) the same pay period as the County observed holiday, (2) the pay period before the pay period including the County observed holiday, or (3) the pay period after the pay period including the County observed holiday. All other full-time employees whose regular assigned work schedule includes the date-specific holiday or the County observed holiday shall receive their regular eight (8) hours at their base hourly rate of pay. An employee who actually works on either the date-specific holiday or the County observed holiday listed in Section 8.7 shall be compensated for the hours actually worked. An employee who works on both the scheduled holiday and the County observed holiday shall elect which day shall be compensated at the overtime rate. However, only one day shall be compensated at the overtime rate. This paid holiday benefit shall be reduced proportionally by any unpaid time in the pay period in which the holiday falls.
- Part-Time Employees
Any part-time employee shall, for each holiday in the pay period, receive holiday pay equivalent to one-tenth (1/10th) of an hour for each hour regularly scheduled to be worked based on the employee’s ongoing work schedule. If the employee’s total hours in paid status (excluding the holiday benefit) exceed the hours regularly scheduled to be worked, the employee shall receive holiday pay equivalent to one-tenth (1/10th) of an hour for each hour in paid status (excluding the holiday benefit). This holiday pay shall not exceed eight hours for each holiday. A part-time employee employed before June 26, 2001, who worked a regular schedule of less than thirty-two (32) hours per pay period shall continue to receive a minimum holiday benefit of 3.2 hours for each holiday in the pay period, until such time the employee’s regular schedule is changed to thirty-two (32) hours or more or a break in service occurs.
Upon approval of the appointing authority, a part-time employee may elect to accrue compensatory time in lieu of holiday pay only when the holiday pay status creates hours in excess of the employee’s regular allocated full time equivalent. Holiday accrued as compensatory time will not count as In-Service nor affect the accruals or pro-ration of benefits until used in a later pay period.
8.11 Sick Leave Accrual
Each full-time employee in a regular, allocated position shall accrue and accumulate sick leave at the rate 3.680 In-Service hours for each completed eighty (80) hour pay period of service. In-Service hours include all hours in paid status excluding overtime. This accrual rate shall be adjusted to reflect any unpaid time in each pay period. Part-time employees in allocated positions shall be eligible to receive sick leave on a pro-rata basis. Usage and accrual of sick leave benefits shall be governed by the same rules and regulations applicable to full-time employees.
When an employee separates from County employment, and returns to County employment within one year from the separation date, any accrued sick leave remaining on account will be restored to the employee upon rehire, provided the time was not otherwise used, paid out, converted to Extra Help sick leave, or converted to service credit. If the separation date is in the middle of the pay period, end of pay period date will apply.
8.12 Sick Leave Usage
Earned sick leave credits may, with the approval of the department head, be used by the employee as outlined below:
8.12.1 Sick Leave Use – Non-FMLA/CFRA/PDL Leave:
Accrued sick leave for incidents other than FMLA/CFRA/PDL qualifying events may be used as follows:
- Employee Illness: during the employee’s own incapacity due to illness or injury;
- Employee Treatment or Examination: during the time needed by the employee to undergo medical or dental treatment or examination;
- For Care of a Family Member: For diagnosis, care or treatment of a health condition of, or preventative care for the employee family member. For leave under this Section 8.12.1, “family member” is defined as a:
- child (defined as biological, adopted, or foster child, stepchild, legal ward, or a child to whom the employee stands in place of a parent, regardless of age or dependency status);
- parent (defined as a biological, foster, or adoptive parent, step parent, a legal guardian, or other person who stood in place of a parent to the employee or the employee’s spouse or domestic partner when the employee was a child. A biological or legal relationship is not necessary for a person to have stood in place of a parent to the employee as a child.)
- employee’s spouse or registered domestic partner, as defined in Article 2 of the MOU;
- grandparent, grandchild, or sibling of the employee or the employee’s spouse or registered domestic partner, as defined in Article 2 of the MOU.
Sick leave use for family members listed in this Section (8.12(c)) shall not exceed forty-eight (48) hours per occurrence unless extended by joint action of the employee’s Department Head and the Director of Human Resources by reason of exceptional hardships. “Occurrence” means per illness or related incidents. The 48 hours do not have to be consecutive.
California “Kin Care” (Labor Code 233) provides that an employee may use an amount of paid sick leave each calendar year that is equal to the amount of time that would normally accrue in six month period, and may be used in the same manner as other sick leave as in described in this Section 8.12.1. to attend to the illness of a child, parent, spouse, or domestic partner (as described above). Kin Care provisions run concurrent with other protected leaves and do not extend the maximum period of leave to which the employee is entitled to under FMLA or CFRA.
- Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, or Stalking: When an employee is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking, to work to obtain or attempt to obtain any relief, including but not limited to, a temporary restraining order, restraining order, or other injunctive relief, to help ensure the health, safety, or welfare of themselves or their child(ren); to seek medical attention for injuries caused by domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking; obtain services from a domestic violence shelter, program or rape crisis center as a result of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking; obtain psychological counseling related to an experience of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking; participate in safety planning or take other actions to increase safety from future domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, including temporary or permanent relocation. Documentation may be required for approval of use of sick leave under this provision, pursuant to Section 8.13 Documentation Requirements.
8.12.2 Sick Leave Use – FMLA/CFRA/PDL Qualifying Leave:
In accordance with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), and pregnancy disability leave (PDL) under the Fair Employment Housing Act (FEHA), earned sick leave credits may, with the approval of the Department Head, be used by an employee as follows:
- Employee Illness: during the employee’s own incapacity due to illness or injury;
- Employee Treatment or Examination: during the time needed by the employee to undergo medical or dental treatment or examination;
- Disabled by Pregnancy: When a woman employee is disabled by pregnancy, which means that in the opinion of her health care provider, she is unable because of pregnancy to work at all or is unable to perform any one or more of the essential functions of her job or to perform these functions without undue risk to herself, the successful completion of her pregnancy, or to other persons; or, if, in the opinion of her health care provider, she is suffering from any of the conditions listed in California Code of Regulations, Title 2, Section 7291.2(f).
- Care of Family Member: When a child, spouse or domestic partner of an employee, who is a member of the employee’s household or a person for whom the employee is entitled to a Federal Income Tax dependent exemption, or the employee’s or spouse’s parent is incapacitated by illness or injury and it is necessary for the employee to care for such child, spouse, domestic partner or parent.
Child is defined as biological, adopted, or foster child, stepchild, legal ward, or a child to whom the employee stands in place of a parent, who is either under 18 years of age or an adult dependent child. An adult dependent child is an individual who is 18 years of age or older and who is incapable of self-care because of a mental or physical disability within the meaning of Government Code Section 12926(j) and (l).
Parent for purposes of this Section is defined as biological, foster, or adoptive parent, stepparent, a legal guardian, or other person who stood in the place of a parent (in loco parentis) to the employee when the employee was a child. A biological or legal relationship is not necessary for a person to have stood in the place of a parent (in loco parentis) to the employee as a child.)
For FMLA/CFRA qualifying events to care for a covered family member incapacitated by injury or illness, employees are allowed to use up to 480 hours of accrued sick leave per eligible event, and not to exceed the number of hours authorized by medical certification. CFRA bonding leave does not qualify for use of sick leave.
Information on FMLA/CFRA/PDL eligibility, documentation, and benefit and pay status is provided under Section 8.21 – Family Care and Medical Leave under FMLA/CFRA.
8.13 Sick Leave – Required Documentation
8.13.1 First Forty-Eight Hours
During the first 48 hours, or number of hours equal to 6 days of the employee’s regular schedule (whichever is greater), of accrued sick leave used by an employee, if the need for paid sick leave is foreseeable, the employee shall provide reasonable advance notice. If the need for paid sick leave is unforeseeable, the employee shall provide notice of the need for the leave as soon as practicable. If the County has reasonable suspicion of sick leave abuse, a signed medical certification may be required for each use of accrued sick leave to the extent permissible by law.
8.13.2 Subsequent Hours
For use of accrued sick leave beyond the first 48 hours or number of hours equal to six (6) days a calendar year (consecutive or non-consecutive), as described above, a signed medical certification may be required for each use of sick leave. Reasonable medical evidence of incapacity, on forms approved by the County, shall be required for sick leave use of more than forty-eight (48) consecutive work hours’ duration.
Reasonable certification may be required, within a reasonable time after the absence, when an unscheduled absence occurs to obtain relief if the employee is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, in accordance with Section 8.12.1(d) of this Agreement. Such certification shall be treated as confidential. Certification may be provided directly to Human Resources and shall not be disclosed to any person except to the affected employee, or as provided by law.
If use of accrued sick leave is for an FMLA, CFRA, or PDL qualifying event, medical certification is required, in accordance with the law, and as outlined in the Medical Leave Policy.
8.14 Sick Leave Conversion / Distribution
- Conversion at Retirement: For each employee who separates from County Service on regular, non-disability retirement shall convert one hundred percent (100%) of unused sick leave remaining to each employee’s credit at the time of retirement to retirement service credit as provided by Government Code Section 31641.03,
- Pay Off at Regular Retirement: For each employee who separates from County service on regular non-disability retirement, who reaches 100% of retirement benefit allowed by law, and who is prevented by law from converting some or all of the employee’s remaining unused sick leave to service credit under Section 22.4 (Sick Leave – Conversion at Regular Retirement), the County shall pay the employee the monetary equivalent of twenty-five percent (25%) of all unused sick leave retaining to such employee’s credit at the time of separation, computed on the basis of the employee’s base hourly rate of pay. Extra Help sick leave hours are not eligible this provision.
- Distribution at Disability Retirement: The County shall pay each employee separated from County service by disability retirement at the employee’s base hourly rate for all unused sick leave remaining to the employee’s credit as of the time of separation. This Section shall not apply to an employee separated from County service by a service retirement. The County shall not pay an employee under this Section for any sick leave hours donated to the employee by other employees under a catastrophic leave benefit. Extra Help sick leave is not eligible for this provision.
- Distribution at Death or Layoff: The County shall pay each employee who separates from County service by death or layoff the monetary equivalent of 25% of all unused sick leave remaining to such employee’s credit as of the time of separation, computed on the basis of the employee’s base hourly pay. Extra Help sick leave is not eligible for this provision.
8.15 Change in Employment Status – Extra Help to Allocated / Allocated to Extra Help
8.15.1 Extra Help to Allocated Position
For an Extra Help employee who begins an allocated assignment within one year of separation of an Extra Help assignment, any accrued and unused Extra Help sick leave hours on account will carry forward with the employee. If the separation date is in the middle of the pay period, pay period end date will apply. Hours carried forward may be used, subject to the following restrictions:
- Extra Help sick leave hours must be used prior to using sick leave accrued as a regular employee;
- Extra Help sick leave hours have no cash value; and
- Extra Help hours are not eligible for conversion to service credit at regular retirement.
8.16 Time Off for Voting
If an employee who is a registered voter does not have sufficient time outside of the employee’s working hours within which to vote at any statewide general or primary election, the employee may, upon request, be granted as much working time off without loss of pay as will, when added to voting time outside the employee’s working hours, enable the employee to vote. An employee may take off so much time which will enable the employee to vote, but not more than two (2) hours of which shall be without loss of pay; provided, that the employee shall be allowed time off for voting only at the beginning or end of the regular working shift, whichever allows the most free time for voting and the least time off from the regular working shift.
8.17 Compassionate Leave
A full-time or part-time employee may be granted up to four (4) scheduled regular work days, a maximum of thirty-two (32) hours, of leave with pay, in the event of the death of spouse, domestic partner, child, step-child, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, brother, brother-in-law, sister, sister-in-law, step-parent, grandparent, great-grandparent, or grandchild, or parent of the employee or of the spouse of the employee. Such leave may also be granted to a parent in the event of the death of a son or daughter due to miscarriage or stillbirth. Up to an additional eight (8) hours of sick leave may be granted to supplement compassionate leave.
When travel in excess of 300 miles one way from the employee’s residence is required, up to an additional one (1) day of sick leave may be used to supplement compassionate leave.
Up to an additional forty (40) hours of accrued vacation or accrued compensatory time off may be granted to supplement compassionate leave upon request.
8.18 Court Leave
- A full-time or part-time employee is entitled to a leave of absence with pay at the employee’s base hourly rate to respond to an enforceable subpoena to appear in a court or administrative agency hearing in California other than as a litigant and for reasons other than those caused by the employee’s connivance or misconduct. An employee may retain such payment as may be allowed the employee for lodging, meals and travel, but as a condition for entitlement to this court leave, the employee shall make payable to the County of Sonoma any and all fees which the employee may receive as payment for the service as a witness. An employee on Court Leave will receive the base rate of pay for those hours spent traveling to and from the court or administrative agency hearing and the hours spent attending to the employee’s obligation as a witness so long as those hours correspond to the employee’s assigned work schedule. Time spent as a witness or travel time, which are outside the employee’s assigned work schedule, shall not be paid. If an employee’s obligation as a witness expires on any work day with time remaining on the employee’s work schedule, the employee will be obligated to return to work.
- These provisions do not apply to employees whose appearance is in the line of duty.
8.19 Jury Duty
It is the policy of the County of Sonoma to encourage County employees to perform service as jurors when summoned for jury duty by a court of competent jurisdiction. Any employee summoned for jury duty shall as soon as possible notify his or her supervisor. The employee shall be entitled to a leave of absence at base hourly rate for such period of time as may be required to attend the court in response to such summons. An employee may retain such payment as may be allowed for travel but shall make payable to the County of Sonoma any and all fees which the employee may receive in payment for services as a juror. An employee who uses a County vehicle for travel for jury duty shall make payable to the County of Sonoma any and all fees which the employee may receive in payment for travel expenses.
8.20 Disaster Leave
When there has been a natural disaster of a magnitude that requires the Board of Supervisors to proclaim a County State of Emergency, the County will enact this Disaster Leave program.
During the proclaimed emergency period and up to one year from the termination of the said proclamation, County employees may donate accrued compensatory time and vacation leave to other County employees who have lost work time because they have been a victim of a disaster affecting their primary residence. For up to one year from the termination of the said proclamation, impacted employees may use up to 320 hours of donated leave. Such donated time will not exceed the total amount of time lost by the receiving employee including vacation, compensatory time used and any unpaid leave incurred. Unused donated time at the expiration of the leave provision period will be returned to the donor.
8.21 Leaves of Absence Without Pay Usage Reference Table
Employees are required to use accrued paid leaves (sick time, vacation time, compensatory time off) before a leave of absence without pay as shown in the following table:
|During the employee’s own incapacity due to illness or injury.||Required. You may keep 40 hrs.||Optional||Optional|
|During the time needed by the employee to undergo medical or dental treatment or examination.||Required. You may keep 40 hrs.||Optional||Optional|
|When a woman employee is disabled by pregnancy.||Required. You may keep 40 hrs.||Optional||Optional|
|When the employee’s family member as defined in the applicable law or policy is incapacitated by illness/injury and the employee must care for him/her, or for care, exam or treatment of a family member*.||Required. You may keep 40 hrs.||Required after sick leave except as noted in comment.||Required after sick leave except as noted in comment.||You may keep 40 hours in any combination of Vacation & CTO|
|Non-sick FMLA/CFRA** qualifying event (e.g., child bonding leave)||Not Applicable||Optional||Optional|
|Education Leave||Not Applicable||Required||Required||Must use all Vacation & CTO|
|Approved, undisclosed reason or extended vacation||Not Applicable||Required||Required||Must use all Vacation & CTO|
|Family School Partnership Act||Not Applicable||Optional||Optional||May use leave without pay before using paid leave.|
* In the event an employee is eligible to receive Paid Family Leave to care for the serious health condition of a family member or to bond with a new child, they will not be required to use sick, vacation or CTO time, while receiving that benefit.
** Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA)/California Family Rights Act (CFRA)
8.22 Family Care and Medical Leave
Each eligible employee is entitled to family care and medical leave as provided by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), as amended. The unpaid leaves under FMLA and CFRA will run concurrently to the extent permitted by law with available paid leaves as shown in Section 8.20.
To be eligible for family care and medical leave, on the date on which leave is to begin, a full-time or part-time employee must have been employed by the County for at least twelve (12) months, which need not be consecutive, and have actually worked at least 1,250 hours of service during the twelve (12) month period immediately preceding the commencement of the leave.
8.22.3 Family Care and Medical Leave Entitlement
Subject to the provisions of this MOU, County policy, and state and federal law, including the federal FMLA and the CFRA, an eligible employee is entitled to a total of twelve (12) workweeks of unpaid leave during any twelve (12) month period for any one, or more, of the following reasons:
The birth of a child and to care for the newborn child (FMLA and CFRA);
The placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care and care for the newly placed child (FMLA and CFRA);
To care for the employee’s child, parent, spouse, or domestic partner (CFRA only) who has a serious health condition. (Child is defined as biological, adopted, or foster child, stepchild, legal ward, or child of a person standing in loco parentis who is under 18 years of age or an adult dependent child. Parent is defined as biological, foster or adoptive parent, stepparent, or legal guardian. Parent does not include a parent-in-law.)
Because of an employee’s own serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the functions of the employee’s position, except for disability on account of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, which is covered by pregnancy disability leave. (Pregnancy disability counts toward only California Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) and FMLA leave.)
Because of any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a U.S. National Guard or Reserve member on active duty (or has been notified of an impending call or order to active duty status) in support of a contingency operation (FMLA only).
8.22.4 Family Care and Medical Leave to Care for a Covered Service Member With a Service Injury or Illness
Subject to the provisions of this MOU, County policy, and state and federal law, including the FMLA, an eligible employee may take FMLA leave to care for a covered service member with a serious injury or illness if the employee is the spouse, son, daughter, parent, or next of kin of the service member.
8.22.5 Pay Status and Benefits
Except as provided in this Article (see, e.g., Section 8.20), the family care and medical leave will be unpaid. The County will, however, continue to provide County contributions toward the health plan premium during the period of family care and medical leave for up to twelve (12) work weeks on the same basis as coverage would have been provided had the employee not taken family care and medical leave. The employee will be required to continue to pay the employee’s share of premiums payments, if any.
Nothing in this Section shall preclude the use of medical or pregnancy disability leave in Section 9.9 (Medical, Dental & Vision Benefits – Medical or Pregnancy Disability) when the employee is medically incapacitated or disabled. If an employee does not qualify for continued benefits under this Section 8.21.5 or Section 9.9 (Medical or Pregnancy Disability Leave) and the employee wishes to continue benefit coverage, then Section 9.10 (Continuation of Health Benefits Coverage) applies.
8.22.6 Relationship of Family Care and Medical Leave to Other Leaves
Any leave of absence that qualifies as family care and medical leave and is designated by the County as family care and medical leave will be counted as running concurrently with any other leave to which the employee may be entitled for the same qualifying reason. Section 8.20 identifies accrued paid leave which an employee may be required to use concurrently with unpaid family care and medical leave.
8.22.7 Relationship to Pregnancy Disability Leave
The family care and medical leave provided under this Section is in addition to any leave taken on account of disability due to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions for which an employee may be qualified under state law.
8.22.8 Notice to the County
The employee must provide written notice to the County as far in advance of the leave as possible and as soon as the employee reasonably knows of the need for the leave. If the need for the leave is foreseeable based on an expected birth, placement of a child for adoption or foster care or planned medical treatment, the notice must be provided at least 30 calendar days in advance of the leave, or if not reasonably known 30 calendar days before the leave, then as soon as reasonably practicable.
The written notice must inform the County of the reasons for the leave, the anticipated duration of the leave and the anticipated start of the leave.
The employee shall consult with the County and make a reasonable effort to schedule any planned medical treatment or supervision so as to minimize disruption to department operations.
8.22.9 Medical Certification
An employee’s request for family care and medical leave to care for a child, a spouse, or a parent who has a serious health condition shall be supported by a certification issued by the health care provider of the individual requiring care. If additional leave is required after the expiration of the time originally estimated by the health care provider, the employee shall provide the County with recertification by the health care provider.
An employee’s request for family care and medical leave because of employee’s own serious health condition shall be supported by a certification issued by the employee’s health care provider.
As a condition of an employee’s return from leave taken because of the employee’s own serious health condition, the employee is required to obtain certification from the employee’s care provider that the employee is able to resume work.
Employees are required to use the medical certification forms available from the County Human Resources Department to meet the certification and recertification requirements of this section.
8.22.10 Employee’s Status on Returning From Leave
Except as provided by law, on return from family care and medical leave, an employee is entitled to be returned to the same or equivalent position the employee held when leave commenced, or to an equivalent position with equivalent benefits, pay, and other terms and conditions of employment. An employee has no right to return to the same position. Use of family care and medical leave will not result in the loss of any employment benefit that accrued prior to the start of an eligible employee’s FMLA/CFRA leave.
8.22.11 FMLA/CFRA Procedures, Definitions and Forms
A description of the required process and procedures to follow for intermittent leave and reduced leave schedules, forms to use when requesting family care and medical leave, and applicable definitions are included in the County Medical Leave Policy and found on the County Human Resources Department website, and are available from the Human Resources Department. The provisions of this Article 8 are subject to Article 18, Grievance Procedure, of this MOU, but the County Medical Leave Policy is not subject to Article 18, Grievance Procedure, of this MOU.
This Section 8.21 shall be interpreted as the legal minimum family care and medical leave available to eligible employees. The County may grant additional leave without pay provided it is consistent with the applicable provisions of the Sonoma County Civil Service Rules, County leave policies, Section 8.20, and other provisions of this memorandum.
8.23 Family School Partnership Act
Each employee shall be entitled to school visitation leave in accordance with California Labor Code Section 230.8. Employees shall have the option of using vacation time, compensatory time or leave without pay for Family School Partnership Act time and shall not be required to use accrued paid leaves first.
8.24 No Break in Service
No absence under any paid leave provision of this Memorandum shall be considered as a break in service for any employee who is in paid status during each absence. All benefits which, under the provisions of the Memorandum, accrue to employees who are in paid status, shall continue to accrue during such absence.
8.25 Leave - Time Off for Donating Blood
If an employee does not have sufficient time outside of working hours to donate blood, subject to department operational needs, the employee may without loss of pay take off up to one (1) hour of working time twice a year for the purpose of donating blood. The employee shall give the employer at least five (5) working days’ notice that time off for donating blood is desired, in accordance with the provisions of this Section (8.24).
8.26 Vacation Savings Plan
Under Vacation Savings Plan (VSP), each eligible (permanent or probationary) full-time employee may elect to set aside up to twenty (20) hours of base rate pay each plan year during years 3 through 5 (4,174 to 10,434 service hours) of permanent, probationary, or unclassified employment. Part-time employees will be eligible to set aside hours on a pro-rata basis, based on their allocated FTE (full time equivalent) position.
Employees enroll during an annual open enrollment period in October/November for the subsequent plan year. The plan year runs from January 1 – December 31. Eligibility to enroll, for full-time and part-time employees, will begin when, as of the start of open enrollment, the employee reaches 4,174 service hours. Eligibility to enroll ends upon completion of 10,434 in-service hours as of the start of open enrollment.
Employees new to this MOU who have between 4,174 and 10,434 in-service hours may enroll within their first 60 days for the current plan year. Information on the plan will be provided by the payroll clerk. Deductions for current plan year enrollments must be completed by the end of the final pay period in December of the current plan year. Failure to submit an Opt Out form does not extend employee entitlement to the special enrollment.
Regular annual enrollments for employees who have reached 4,174 hours by the beginning of annual enrollment but have not exceeded 10,434 hours will complete their election through the County’s self-service program during the open enrollment period. Employees indicate the number of hours (up to 20) to purchase, and the number of pay periods over which the deductions will occur beginning on the first pay period of the new plan year. Deductions for regular and special enrollments will be in equal amounts over the number of pay periods selected at the base hourly rate as of the time of enrollment. Deductions must be completed by the end of the final pay period in December. Employees may submit one enrollment per plan year. Elections must be in whole hour increments.
At the end of the plan year, up to 20 hours may roll forward to the subsequent plan year until the last pay period in April. Any unused hours from the prior year on account at the end of the last pay period in April will be paid back to the employee in May.
Time may be used in one-tenth hour increments. The dollar value and hours available in the VSP bank will appear on the employee’s paystub, the County’s self-service program, and Timesaver.
Deductions are made on an after-tax basis. If there are insufficient funds to cover the deduction, the deduction will not be taken and the amount will automatically recalculate the deduction amount to the remaining elected pay periods in the plan year.
Employees may cancel participation in the program by notifying the Auditor Payroll Division in writing by completing a Vacation Savings Plan Enrollment / Cancellation / Opt-Out Form. The employee designates whether the amount accrued to date will be paid out to the employee or will carry forward under the plan provisions. Balances being paid back to the employee will be paid off as soon as administratively feasible.
In the event the employee separates from County employment or has a change in eligibility status for the plan, unused VSP will be paid to the employee as soon as administratively feasible. Reaching 10,434 hours during the plan year is not considered a “change in status” under this provision.
Use of VSP hours are subject to the following guidelines:
- VSP hours shall be used before other accrued leave except for sick leave or mandated time off under an Unpaid Furlough, Mandatory Time Off, or similar program.
- Use of VSP hours is subject to the same provisions in Section 8.5, Vacation – Schedules, and require the same pre-approval process as accrued vacation hours.
- When paid, VSP hours are not taxed and are paid at the same hourly rate of pay as they were deducted.
- If the value in the VSP bank is not sufficient to cover the employee’s payroll deductions, the employee must arrange for payment with Auditor Payroll.
- VSP hours will count toward seniority and merit, and will be considered “paid status” for the purposes of health benefits, vacation and sick leave accrual, and holiday pay only. VSP hours will not be credited to retirement service hours, or be included in retirement final annual salary calculation.
- VSP hours will not be considered paid status hours for shift pay, premium pay, or cash allowance.
- VSP hours must be depleted prior to receiving Catastrophic Leave or Disaster Leave; Short Term Disability plans may also require depletion of leave, if applicable.
- VSP hours may be used in conjunction with Workers’ Compensation benefits in the same manner as accrued leave.
8.27 Voluntary Time Off (VTO) Program
VTO Program eligibility, authorization of use, and conditions are specified and limited to the VTO Program document (Appendix D), which is incorporated herein by reference. The decision to use and authorize VTO is at the discretion of the department head. This Section, 8.26, and the terms, authorization, and conditions are not grievable or subject to arbitration.
8.28 Paid Parental Leave
Starting July 23, 2019, for eligible events (as defined in section 220.127.116.11 and 18.104.22.168) occurring on or after March 25, 2019, any permanent or probationary employee who has been continuously employed by the County for at least twelve (12) months prior to the start of the leave shall be eligible for the paid parental leave (PPL) to use within twelve (12) months after the following events:
On or after March 25, 2019, the birth of a child of the employee, the employee’s spouse, or the employee’s domestic partner.
On or after March 25, 2019, placement of a child with the employee’s family for adoption or foster care. For purposes of this section, “parent” and “child” are defined under the California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”).
8.28.2 Benefits and Use
Eligible full-time employees shall be granted 320 PPL hours to use within twelve (12) months of the qualifying event. Part-Time employees shall be eligible for a pro-rated number of PPL hours based on allocated FTE.
PPL is based on a twelve (12) month rolling calendar and no more than 320 hours may be used in any twelve (12) month period.
PPL is based on the employee’s base hourly wage plus cash allowance and is considered “Paid status” for the purpose of merit, seniority, premiums, vacation and sick leave accrual, and county benefits eligibility and contributions.
PPL pay is pensionable and counts towards retirement service credit.
PPL may be used in a block, or several blocks, of continuous time, or as part of a reduced work schedule as arranged in advance. PPL cannot be used retroactively. Time taken for other purposes, not arranged in advance and approved as PPL time, cannot be re-coded or re-characterized as PPL; however, previously agreed upon schedule modifications under this provision can be adjusted with manager approval.
Use of PPL shall not be cause for an employee to lose her/his current assignment on a permanent basis; however, assignments may be altered to accommodate employee or department operational needs when the employee is working a reduce schedule.
An employee in a disability period following the birth of a child must reduce their sick leave balance to forty (40) hours before using PPL.
8.28.3 Coordination of Benefits and Leaves
PPL can be fully integrated with any short-term disability (“STD”) or California Paid Family Leave Program (“PFL”), if an employee is eligible or those benefits. STD and PFL will not reduce PPL leave entitlement. For time covered by FMLA/CFRA job protected leave for bonding, PPL must be used prior to other accrued leave or Leave Without Pay (“LWOP”). If an employee has exhausted FMLA/CFRA entitlements, PPL must be used prior to LWOP for arranged leaves for the purpose of bonding. PPL does not need to be used when an employee is on leave for reasons other than bonding. To the extent state and federal leave protections are available, they will run concurrently with PPL.
8.28.4 Implementation Questions
The ESC Labor Representative may contact the County’s Disability Manager to discuss unanticipated issues that may arise in implementing this benefit for ESC members. If the particular concern is not resolved through direct communication with the Disability Manager or designee, ESC and the County will meet to discuss their concerns.