Employee Leave: Mandatory and Voluntary
Many employers give employees paid leave, such as vacation, paid time off, and sick leave as part of their benefits package to allow employees to recharge their batteries and to deal with life’s little downturns. In addition, covered employers are required to grant employees job-protected leave under employment laws such as the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and workers’ comp laws and possibly as an accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Some employers also give employees paid time off for holidays such as Christmas and Thanksgiving.
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Mandatory leave: FMLA, ADA, military leave, workers’ comp, and jury duty
In addition to employee leave protected by the FMLA and ADA, many states have similar laws and workers’ comp laws. Employers also are required by federal laws to grant leave for military service under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), and as a religious accommodation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Some states also require maternity leave and/or paternity leave for employee who need time off for the birth or adoption of a child. State and federal employment laws generally requires employers to give employees leave when they are called to serve on a jury.
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Voluntary (non-mandatory) leave
Employers also offer many types of employee leave that aren’t required by law, although some may be required by a collective bargaining agreement with a labor union. Non-mandatory types of employee leave include vacation, personal days, holidays, sick leave, maternity leave, paternity leave, adoption leave, disability leave, and paid time off.
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Although San Francisco is the only city that has passed legislation requiring mandatory sick leave, several states have considered similar measures. One of the benefits for employers that provide paid sick leave is that employees are less likely to come to work when they are sick if they will not lose pay. Encouraging sick employees to stay home can help reduce the chances of germs spreading at work, keeping the rest of the employers workplace healthier.
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State leave laws
Many states have their own medical, pregnancy, childbirth, and military leave laws that may give employees more leave or apply to smaller or different employers than federal employment laws. Some states may even require paid leave in certain circumstances. It’s also important for employers to check their state laws regarding possible requirements to give employees time off for activities such as voting, donating an organ, and attending parent-teacher conferences.
State-by-state comparision of 50 employment laws in all 50 states, including various leave laws
Wage and hour laws: exempt and non-exempt employees, comp time, and furloughs
State and federal wage and hour laws may dictate how employers have to deal with some issues regarding employee leave including whether or not unused leave is paid out when an employee leaves and whether employees can be given comp time instead of overtime. The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) also addresses several situations in which an exempt employee misses work but doesn’t have leave time.
A new wage and hour issue involving employee leave has arisen recently — employee furloughs. Since September 2008, a number of employers have begun voluntary or mandatory employee furloughs in response to a decreased demand for the employers goods and services and as a cost-cutting measure. Before implementing furloughs, employers need to check state and federal wage and hour laws to make sure their plans are in compliance.