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Other Leaves: Iowa

Other Leaves requirements for other states

Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.

Authors: Stuart R. Buttrick, Rozlyn Fulgoni-Britton and Susan W. Kline, Faegre Baker Daniels LLP

Summary

  • There are various types of leave that may be available to an employee in Iowa.See Leaves of Absence.
  • Iowa does not have a state family and medical leave law applicable to private employers. See Family and Medical Leave.
  • An employer may not terminate an employee's employment solely for an absence related to attending a required drinking and driving class. See Drinking and Driving Class Leave.
  • An employer may not terminate, threaten or coerce an employee with respect to his or her employment, because the employee receives a notice to report for jury service, reports for jury service, attends court for prospective jury service or serves as a juror. See Jury Duty Leave.
  • Under some circumstances, employees are entitled to leave to serve as a witness. See Witness Duty Leave.
  • An employer may designate the period of time the employee can take for voting. See Voting Leave.
  • Certain employers must provide leave to employees who are elected officials to allow the elected official to perform his or her duties. See Elected Official Leave.
  • A volunteer emergency responder, such as volunteer firefighter, may be entitled to leave. See Emergency Responder Leave.
  • An employer must allow any veteran to take paid or unpaid leave on Veterans Day unless such leave would cause significant economic or operational disruption or impact public health or safety. See Veterans Day Leave.

Leaves of Absence

There are various types of leave that may be available to an employee in Iowa. To the extent that applicable federal, state or local laws conflict, an employer should apply the provisions that provide the greatest benefits and protections to the employee.

An employer should remain alert to the various types of leave available and take care to track employees' leaves of absence, including:

  • The date the leave begins;
  • The type of leave; and
  • The expected return date.

An employee who exercises leave rights is not protected from discipline for legitimate reasons that are unrelated to the leave and that are not otherwise prohibited by law.

If an employer must discipline an employee who has exercised his or her leave rights, it should carefully document the reasons for the discipline, review past application of the rule (to ensure the policy is being enforced evenhandedly), and consider whether to seek the advice of counsel before imposing the discipline.

Family and Medical Leave

Iowa does not have a state family and medical leave law applicable to private employers. However, an Iowa employer with 50 or more employees is likely required to adhere to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Pregnancy Disability Leave

An employer with four or more employees must provide a leave of absence to an employee who is disabled by pregnancy or a pregnancy-related medical condition. The duration of the leave will be the period that the employee is disabled or eight weeks, whichever is less.

Before granting a leave of absence, an employer may require a medical certification verifying the pregnancy-related disability and stating that the employee is not able to reasonably perform the duties of employment.

For more information on pregnancy disability leave see FMLA: Iowa; Disabilities (ADA): Iowa.

Drinking and Driving Class Leave

An employer may not terminate an employee's employment solely for an absence related to attending a required drinking and driving class. An employer who violates this law is liable for damages which includes but is not limited to actual damages, court costs, and reasonable attorney fees. The person may also petition the court for a cease and desist order against their employer and for reinstatement to the person's previous position of employment. +Iowa Code § 321J.22.

A course for drinking and driving is a course aimed at informing an offender about drinking and driving and encouraging the offender to assess their drinking and driving behavior.

Supervisors should be trained to respond to requests for time off to attend the legally required drunk driving courses covered by this policy. An employer should ensure that it does not terminate an employee solely because of the employee's attendance at such classes. However, requests for time off for this reason may also result in disclosure of a drunk driving offense, which may, under certain circumstances, warrant further investigation and/or disciplinary action.

A covered employer should consider including a drinking and driving class leave policy in its handbook to educate employees, including supervisors, about the availability of drinking and driving leave and to show its compliance with Iowa law.

Jury Duty Leave

An employer may not terminate, threaten or coerce an employee with respect to his or her employment, because the employee receives a notice to report for jury service, reports for jury service, attends court for prospective jury service or serves as a juror. For more information on jury duty leave, please see Jury Duty: Iowa.

Witness Duty Leave

An employer may not terminate an employee, fail to take action regarding an employee's promotion or proposed promotion or take action to reduce an employee's wages or benefits for actual time worked because the employee serves as a witness in a criminal proceeding or is a plaintiff, defendant or witness in a civil domestic abuse proceeding. An employer that fails to comply with witness leave requirements commit a simple misdemeanor, and employees can recover damages, including but not limited to actual damages, court costs and reasonable attorney fees. +Iowa Code § 915.23.

An employer should consider including a witness duty leave policy in its handbook to educate employees, including supervisors, about the availability of witness duty leave and to show its compliance with Iowa law.

Voting Leave

If an employee who is entitled to vote does not have three consecutive hours outside of work during poll hours to vote, an employer must provide time off from work so that, when combined with the employee's regular nonworking time, the employee will have three consecutive hours to vote. This requirement applies to all employers.

An employee must apply for voting time in writing prior to the election date. An employer may designate the period of time the employee can take for voting. The employee must be paid for any designated voting time. +Iowa Code § 49.109.

An employer should consider including a voting leave policy in its handbook to educate employees, including supervisors, about the availability of voting leave and to show its compliance with Iowa law.

Elected Official Leave

An employer with 20 or more full-time employees is required to grant an employee who has been elected to a municipal, county, state or federal office a leave of absence to serve in that office, unless otherwise prohibited by federal law, upon the employee's written application. The leave of absence may be without pay, at the employer's discretion, although the employee cannot lose seniority or other earned benefits. Employers do not have to pay pension, health or other benefits during the leave of absence. +Iowa Code § 55.1.

If an employee on elected official leave of absence chooses to return to work prior to the expiration of previously granted leave, the employer must allow the employee to do so.

In addition, an employee appointed to serve on a state board must be granted a leave of absence to attend the state board meetings, unless otherwise prohibited by federal law, upon the employee's written application. +Iowa Code § 55.3. A state board includes any board, commission, committee, counsel or task force of the state government created by the Constitution of the State of Iowa, statute, general assembly resolution, legislative council motion, executive order or supreme court order, but it does not include any such entity that provides its members an annual salary.

An employer should consider including an elected official and state board leave policy in its handbook to educate employees, including supervisors, about the availability of voting leave and to show its compliance with Iowa law.

Emergency Responder Leave

Under the Volunteer Emergency Services Providers Job Protection Act, all employers are prohibited from terminating employees' employment for joining a volunteer emergency services unit or organization, including but not limited to any municipal, rural or subscription fire department. Additionally, if the employee provides notice to the employer that he or she is a member of a voluntary emergency service unit or organization, the employer may not terminate the employee's employment for absences or tardies that occur because of the employee's duties as a voluntary emergency services provider.

An employer may request documentation from an employee's volunteer emergency services unit confirming that absences or tardies were related to volunteer duties. An employer may determine whether an employee may leave work early to respond to an emergency as part of an employee's volunteer emergency services duties. +Iowa Code § 100B.14.

An employer should consider including an emergency responder leave policy in its handbook to educate employees, including supervisors, about the availability of emergency responder leave and to show its compliance with Iowa law.

Military Leave

Under certain circumstances, an employer must provide leave to members of the National Guard, organized national reserves and civil air patrol. For more information on military leave see USERRA: Iowa.

Veterans Day Leave

An employer must allow any veteran to take paid or unpaid leave on Veterans Day (November 11) unless such leave would cause significant economic or operational disruption or impact public health or safety. The employer must notify the employee at least 10 days prior to Veterans Day of whether the time off will be paid or unpaid.

An employee must provide at least one month's advance written notice of the intent to take time off for Veterans Day. The employee must also provide a federal certificate of release or discharge from active duty, or a similar federal document, for purposes of determining the employee's eligibility for leave.

If the employer determines that it is unable to provide time off for Veterans Day for all employees who request time off, then it must deny time off to the minimum number of employees needed to protect public health and safety or to maintain minimum operational capacity, as applicable.

+Iowa Code § 91A.5A.

An employer should consider including a veterans day leave policy in its handbook to educate employees, including supervisors, about the availability of veterans day leave and to show its compliance with Iowa law.

Training

Employers should be aware that certain leaves are protected by state law and therefore it should train its supervisory employees not to take action against an employee because he or she took leave or indicated that he or she may take the leave in the near future. See Training and Development: Federal.

Future Developments

There are no developments to report at this time. Continue to check XpertHR regularly for the latest information on this and other topics.

Additional Resources

Iowa Supplement: Table of Contents