Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.
Author: Susan A. P. Woodhouse, Littler
- Louisiana does not have a state family and medical leave law applicable to private employers. See Family and Medical Leave.
- A covered Louisiana employer must allow an employee affected by pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions to take a leave of absence for a reasonable length of time not to exceed four months. See Pregnancy Leave.
- A covered employer cannot terminate a honorably discharged veteran for taking time off from work to attend medical visits which are necessary to receive veteran's benefits. See Veterans Medical Appointment Leave.
- Other types of leave may be available to Louisiana employees - some required by federal, state or local law, and some provided by company policy, as well as several sources of income replacement. See Interaction of Leave Laws.
Family and Medical Leave
Louisiana does not have a state family and medical leave law applicable to private employers. However, a Louisiana employer with 50 or more employees is likely required to adhere to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
The Supreme Court ruled that the 14th Amendment requires a state to do the following:
- License a marriage between two people of the same sex; and
- Recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out of state.
Obergefell v. Hodges, +2015 U.S. LEXIS 4250 (U.S. June 26, 2015).
Same-sex marriage is legal nationwide, and couples lawfully married in any state, including Louisiana, are entitled to FMLA spousal leave benefits.
An employer should be careful if it seeks to confirm an employee's spousal relationship (for purposes of the FMLA) to ensure it does not discriminate in any way. While the FMLA allows an employer to confirm a family relationship, the employer's practices to confirm such relationships should be the same for employees in same-sex marriages as those in opposite-sex marriages (e.g., if an employer does not ask heterosexual employees for marriage licenses it should be careful about asking homosexual employees for such documentation).
Apart from FMLA considerations, employers with employees residing in Louisiana should look at existing policies that provide for leave based on spousal relationships, such as bereavement leave or military leave. Policy language (such as how a spouse is defined) may need to be revised.
Louisiana employers with 26 or more employees within Louisiana (for each working day in each of the 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year) must provide unpaid leave to an employee affected by a normal, health pregnancy and childbirth. Leave may be extended for a reasonable time for disabling pregnancies or related medical conditions. See Purpose and Length of Leave.
Employers with 50 or more employees will likely be required to adhere to the FMLA. To the extent federal and state laws differ, whichever law provides greater benefits and protection to the employee will apply.
A covered employer should consider including a policy in its handbook to educate employees, including supervisors, about the availability of leave for pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions and to show its compliance with Louisiana law.
Purpose and Length of Leave
Employees must be allowed up to six weeks of unpaid leave for a normal healthy pregnancy and childbirth.
Leave may be extended for a reasonable amount of time, not to exceed four months, when the employee is temporarily disabled as a result of pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical conditions. A reasonable amount of time means the period during which the female employee is disabled due to pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions.
Thus, an employer must provide up to six weeks for a normal pregnancy and delivery and up to four months to an employee who is disabled as a result of pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions.
Employee Notice Requirements
Reasonable notice of the date the leave will commence and its estimated duration may be required.
Compensation and Benefits
An employee may use any accrued vacation during the leave period.
The same benefits or privileges of employment must be provided to employees affected by pregnancy as is provided to other temporarily disabled employees.
It is not required to provide an employee with health insurance coverage for the medical costs of pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions.
Alternative Work Arrangements
An employee must be permitted to transfer to a less strenuous or hazardous position for the duration of the pregnancy if:
- The employee requests the transfer with the advice of the employee's physician; and
- The transfer can be reasonably accommodated.
It is not required that the employer create additional employment or terminate an employee, transfer an employee with more seniority, or promote any employee who is not qualified for the job.
A covered employer may not make the following employment decisions based on an employee's pregnancy, childbirth or related medical condition (unless based upon a bona fide occupational qualification):
- Refuse to promote an employee;
- Refuse to select an employee for a training program, leading to promotion (provided the employee can complete training at least three months before anticipated leave date);
- Terminate an employee from employment or from a training program leading to promotion;
- Discriminate against an employee in compensation or terms, conditions or privileges of employment;
- Refuse the same benefits or privileges of employment;
- Refuse to grant a leave for a reasonable time, not to exceed four months;
- Refuse to transfer a pregnant employee, upon the employee's request, to a less strenuous or hazardous position - when the employer has a policy, practice or collective bargaining agreement requiring or authorizing the transfer of temporarily disabled employees to such positions; and/or
- Refuse to transfer a pregnant employee, upon the employee's request, to a less strenuous or hazardous position for the duration of the pregnancy, when the employee has been advised to do so by a doctor and where such transfer can be reasonably accommodated.
Veterans Medical Appointment Leave
A Louisiana employer with 20 or more employees cannot terminate, discipline or threaten to terminate or discipline a honorably discharged veteran for taking time off from work to attend medical visits which are necessary to receive veteran's benefits. For more information on veterans medical appointment leave, please see Other Leaves: Louisiana.
Interaction of Leave Laws
Other types of leave may be available to Louisiana employees - some required by federal, state or local law, and some provided by company policy, as well as several sources of income replacement. See Other Leaves: Louisiana. While some of these laws can run at the same time, others cannot.
Remain alert to the various types of leave available and take care to track an employee's leave of absence, including:
- The date the leave begins;
- The type of leave; and
- The expected return date.
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