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 of certain employers - such as Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave. Other 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 by 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 an employer creates leave policies or documents relating to time off, the employer should consider which employees will be eligible for the particular leaves (e.g., part-time versus full-time), the terms of the specific leave and the process for requesting leave. Employers should consider offering some form of time off, such as paid time off, to allow their employees to get some down time, which will assist the employer in employee recruitment and retention efforts.
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 trained on the various forms of time off so they know how to apply the policies or practices properly and know when to reach out to HR. Larger multistate employers may consider adopting uniform time off policies across all states to ease administrative burdens and to create a more unified company culture.
Trends: Paid time off is generally not required by federal law. However, some states (e.g., California, Connecticut, Oregon and Massachusetts) and several municipalities (e.g., Newark, Trenton, New York City, Philadelphia and Seattle) require paid sick leave for eligible employees. Similar legislation is spreading in other jurisdictions.
Author: Melissa S. Burdorf, JD, Legal Editor
Updated to incorporate protections for National Guard members of any state, effective July 20, 2016.
Updated to reflect the expansion of military leave rights to members of the National Guard of other states, effective July 6, 2016.
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Updated to reflect the forthcoming Minneapolis Sick and Safe Time Ordinance.
A paid sick and safe time handbook statement for Los Angeles, California, has been added and other handbook statements have been updated as a result of a new law requiring employers with 26 or more employees to provide paid sick leave to employees who work in Los Angeles, effective July 1, 2016.
Los Angeles employers seeking to provide paid sick and safe time using the "accrual" method, educate employees about the availability of paid sick and safe time and show their compliance with the Los Angeles Minimum Wage Ordinance (LAMWO) should consider including this model policy statement in their handbook.
Updated when to include and guidance to address the interplay between the Los Angeles minimum wage ordinance and its hotel worker minimum wage ordinance, which provide unpaid and paid sick time to eligible employees.
Updated when to include and guidance to address the interplay between the Los Angeles minimum wage ordinance and its hotel worker minimum wage ordinance, which both provide paid time off to eligible employees.
HR guidance on administering and managing employees' time off from work.