If you operate your own business, then you need to pay attention to the various laws in your own state and city. Federal laws regarding employment are well known, but many states have passed their own laws in order to grant employees further protections. Sometimes states pick up the slack where the federal government left off. For example, many states have created their own laws to expand upon the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). However, there are still a sizable number of states that do not have anything in addition to FMLA, so understand what the law is in your area so that you do not accidentally infringe on employees’ rights.
States Without Further Family and Medical Leave Laws
FMLA grants employees the right to take 12 weeks of unpaid leave in order to care for family members or address certain medical issues. This law only applies to businesses that employ 50 or more workers, and any employee who wishes to take advantage of this law must have been working with the company for at least a year. Some states have chosen to expand upon this policy such as California, Hawaii, Massachusetts and others. For other states, FMLA is the only thing that needs to be followed, and those states include:
- New Hampshire
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
If you do not operate your business in any of the above mentioned states, then you should check with your state’s laws to see what is expected of you when an employee asks for time off. If you do operate your company in one of the listed states, then you only need to abide by FMLA. You should also check any city laws that may influence what you are capable of doing.
What Is Expected of You?
Employers who run their business in a state with its own laws regarding family-related leave must obey the law that offers the greatest breadth of protections to the employee. All other employers must automatically follow FMLA. Both private and public businesses must follow FMLA, and if an employee meets all qualifications to be granted FMLA leave, then it must be given. Some of the conditions that would fall under FMLA leave include caring for a newborn child, going through the adoption process to receive a new child, needing to care for a family member who is gravely ill or being unable to work because the employee has a medical condition that must be addressed.
An employee must give you 30 days’ notice that time off will become necessary. This should give you plenty of time to prepare for the employee’s absence and make all necessary arrangements to find a replacement. This will also give you time to definitively make sure the request falls under the guidelines of FMLA. An unplanned medical emergency may qualify an employee for FMLA leave, and under these circumstances, 30 days’ notice may not be necessary. Some conditions that would fall under this include spinal injuries, heart attacks and strokes.
Once an employee has utilized his or her time off, then the individual must be given the same position he or she had before leaving. If that position is no longer available, then a job that has equal pay and the same responsibilities must be given. Not obeying this law could be viewed as retaliation on your end, so make sure you understand every aspect of FMLA.
Be sure you understand when FMLA does and does not apply so that you do not end up with a lawsuit on your hands. The FMLA may be the only law you have to follow, so it should not be too difficult to brush up on the law.
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