unpaid leave laws

6 Paid and Unpaid Leave Laws Every Employer Should Know About

Posted October 3, 2017 by Kristin Hoppe in Keeping Compliant
From mandated sick leave to the Family Medical Leave Act, here are six different laws companies should know when crafting leave policies.

In every business, unexpected life events arise where employees need to leave work — whether that’s due to illness, injury, or family reasons.

But creating leave policies for your company is more complicated than first meets the eye. One reason? Paid and unpaid leave laws that vary in different states and localities. Even federal laws may only apply if your company is a certain size.

So, how do you keep it all straight? We’ve made a starter list below of six paid and unpaid leave laws that all employers should have on their radar when creating leave policies for their company.

We’ve made a simple guide about how to make company leave policies. You can download it here for free.

Paid and Unpaid Leave Laws

1. Family Medical Leave Act

Under the Family Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, eligible employees working for private companies with 50 or more employees are entitled to take:

  • Up to 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave during a 12-month period for qualifying family and medical reasons, or to handle qualifying exigencies.
  • Up to 26 workweeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in a single-12 month period for military caregiver leave.
  • Several states have enacted their own family and medical leave laws, some of which apply to smaller employers, provide greater amounts of leave and benefits than those provided by the FMLA, and/or provide benefits to employees who are not eligible for FMLA leave.

    2. Paid Family Leave

    There are only a few jurisdictions that require paid family leave. Currently, California, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Washington, the District of Columbia and San Francisco have enacted laws offering paid family leave.

    3. Pregnancy Disability Leave

    Several states have passed laws requiring employer to provide job-protected leave for pregnant employees. That includes when employees need time off for disabilities related to pregnancy and/or childbirth. In some states, like California, pregnancy leave is in addition to any leave the employee is eligible for under the FMLA.

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    4. Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act

    USERRA is the primary federal law that governs leave for employees who are military service members. It requires employers to provide leave to employees to serve in uniformed services and reemploy employees who have taken military leave.

    Many states have military leave provisions that require additional obligations from employers.

    5. Americans with Disabilities Act

    The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law that applies to private employers with 15 or more employees.

    In sum, the ADA requires covered employers to make reasonable accommodations for qualified employees with disabilities if necessary to perform essential job functions. Accommodations can include modifications to work schedules, such as leave.

    Some state and local laws may similarly require employers to provide unpaid leave as a reasonable accommodation.

    6. Paid Sick Leave

    Many states and localities across the country have enacted paid sick leave legislation. States like Connecticut, California, Massachusetts, and Oregon have statewide paid sick days. And even more cities and states are considering putting additional sick leave laws on the books. Check the law for the jurisdiction your employees work in to ensure your policy satisfies all the applicable requirements.

    BONUS: Additional Leave Laws

    State laws may impose additional or different leave requirements for employers, such as leave for jury duty, voting, or blood donation. A few states provide for a limited number of hours annually for parents to attend school-related events and activities for their children.

    This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, legal or tax advice. If you have any legal or tax questions regarding this content or related issues, then you should consult with your professional legal or tax advisor.