VISTA Member Handbook
FAMILY MEDICAL LEAVE ACT
The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a Federal law that provides certain employees in the United States with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year. The Serve America Act Amendments to the National Community Service Act of 1990 extended FMLA protections to certain AmeriCorps and VISTA members.
In the context of the VISTA program, FMLA is a leave without pay status. A VISTA member who is eligible for and takes “FMLA leave” stays enrolled in the VISTA program, continues to receive health coverage, and stays assigned to a VISTA project while taking the leave, but does not receive living allowance. Further, member benefits and allowances (child care, life insurance, accrual of the VISTA’s end-of-service award [i.e., Education Award or end-of-service stipend]) are suspended while on FMLA leave. The VISTA’s position at the project where the VISTA had been assigned remains available for when the VISTA returns and cannot be abolished or given to someone else in the VISTA's absence. Upon return to the project, the VISTA’s receipt of all VISTA program benefits that were suspended during FMLA leave, including the living allowance, resume.
Applying FMLA to the VISTA program poses complex legal and programmatic issues. When an FMLA question arises, the Corporation State Office must consult with the Corporation's Office of General Counsel in coordination with VISTA HQ. It is necessary to conduct fact-specific analyses, on a case-by-case basis, in order to resolve questions of FMLA eligibility and compliance.
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