Many businesses offer paid leave, such as vacation, sick time, and paid time off as part of a benefits package to enable employees to balance workplace demands with health issues. Also, covered organizations are obligated to award employees job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and workers’ compensation laws. Some employers also provide paid time off for holidays.
1. Question: Does the Law Require Employers to Provide Paid Vacation Time and Sick Leave?
No. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not require businesses to provide paid sick and vacation time. However, to attract a larger qualified candidate pool, many organizations offer full-time employees paid sick leave and vacation time.
2. Question: Do Employees Have the Right to Take Maternity and Paternity Leave?
When FMLA applies, a business must allow female and male workers to take up to 12 weeks of leave during the first year of a child’s life or the first year of a child’s placement in the employee’s home by foster care or adoption. An expectant mother may start the leave before the child’s birth for prenatal care or if the condition interferes with her ability to perform the duties of her job.
3. Question: Is the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Applicable to All Businesses?
No. The FMLA pertains to businesses with 50 or more workers within 75 miles of the primary location. However, related state laws frequently pertain to smaller companies not covered by the FMLA. State regulations also may empower employees with additional rights, such as the right to take unpaid leave to care for an ill domestic partner or attend parent-teacher conferences.
4. Question: Under what Circumstances does FMLA Give Employees the Right to Take Up to 12 Weeks of Unpaid Leave?
The FMLA applies to workers who have been employed with the same organization for at least a year and to the employees who have worked at least 1,250 hours during the previous year. The FMLA gives workers the ability to request up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave under the following circumstances:
- For the birth of a child during the child’s first year
- For the placement of a foster child in the employee’s home or adoption of a child during the first year
- To care for a family member with a serious physical or mental health condition
- The employee suffers from a serious physical or mental health condition that prevents them from performing their job
5. Question: Does the Employer Have to Pay an Employee who Takes FMLA Leave?
The FMLA only covers unpaid leave. However, the law authorizes an employee to choose to apply accrued paid sick time, vacation leave, or family leave for all or some of the FMLA leave period. In some cases, the employer can require the employee to use paid time first. However, the employee must abide with the employer’s paid leave policies.
6. Question: Can an Employer Change an Employee’s Job When the Employee Takes Intermittent or Reduced Schedule Leave?
Employees needing reduced schedules or intermittent leave for foreseeable medical treatments must cooperate with their managers to schedule the leave so it is not disruptive to the employer’s operations, as long as the employee’s health care provider approves. In these instances, the manager may assign the worker temporarily to a different job in the company with comparable benefits and pay during recurring leave periods.
7. Question: Can an Employer Ask for Proof that an Employee has a Serious Health Condition?
A business may require a certification issued by a health care provider that verifies the existence of a serious health condition of the employee or immediate family member and the need for the leave. However, the company must provide the employee with at least 15 calendar days to get the medical certification.
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