Overview: Employers must be careful in administering and managing the various forms of an employee's time off from work. Some forms of time off may be legally required by certain employers - such as Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave. Others forms of time off - such as paid time off (PTO) or bereavement leave - may be voluntarily offered by the employer. Employers must always consider what types of leave they are required to offer under the law and in accordance with their policies - and in what situations. Most importantly, employers must apply all policies in a consistent and uniform manner.
When employers create leave policies or documents relating to time off, the employer should consider which employees will be eligible for the particular leaves (i.e., part-time versus full-time), the terms of the specific leave and the process for requesting leave. Employers should consider offering certain forms of time off, such as paid time off, to allow their employees to get some down time and to assist in recruitment and retention.
Whether time off is legally required or voluntarily provided, all forms of time off (or leave) should be carefully tracked and documented. Supervisors and managers should be properly trained on the various forms of time off so they know how to apply the policies or practices properly and when to reach out to HR. Larger multistate employers should consider adopting uniform time off policies across all states to ease the administrative burdens and create a more unified company culture.
Trends: Paid time off is generally not required by federal law. Some states, however (such as Connecticut), and certain municipalities (such as Seattle and Philadelphia) require paid sick leave for certain eligible employees. Similar legislation is spreading in other jurisdictions.
Melissa S. Burdorf, J.D., Legal Editor
In-depth review of the spectrum of Indiana employment law requirements HR must follow in respect to other leaves.
In-depth review of the spectrum of Colorado employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to FMLA.
In-depth review of the spectrum of Indiana employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to FMLA.
In-depth review of the spectrum of Kansas employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to various leaves.
The New York City Council passed a bill that would require many employers to provide employees one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 40 hours of leave per year, starting April 2014.
Several states offer leave for employees of either public or private employers to donate bone marrow or blood, or to serve as an organ donor, in addition to any other medical or personal leave provided. Generally, the nature and length of the leave depends on the underlying cause of the leave. Employers should publish a written policy if the employer is located in a state that requires such leave or if this is an important value to the employer.
An employer may use this policy to communicate family and medical leave rights and responsibilities when the employer is not subject to the FMLA. Employers can choose to implement a family and medical leave policy that is in line with the FMLA or state equivalent, and may modify it to meet the employer's needs.
While there is no federal law that specifically protects employees who are victims of domestic violence, stalking or sexual assault and/or other crimes, many states have enacted laws granting job protection and leave to such employees and/or employees whose family members have been victimized. These laws also typically prohibit employers from penalizing or terminating an employee because the employee exercises his or her rights as a crime victim or a victim of domestic violence which includes attending court as a witness in a related criminal proceeding. An employer should publish a written policy if the employer is located in a state that requires such leave or if this is an important value to the employer.
The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) generally serves as a baseline for covered employers when implementing leave policies. When the provisions of an employer's leave policy intersect with the FMLA, the employer should be careful when handling leaves of absence and should administer both the FMLA and the employer's leave policies equitably and in compliance with the law.
HR guidance on administering and managing employee’s time off from work.
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