One of the more complex issues for both employers and employees is time off from work, or “protected leave”. Whether it is for medical reasons or due to some other cause, understanding how these programs work is essential to avoiding conflict and potential claims. Whether you are an employee or a business owner, Erdal Employment Law can help you navigate these issues.
Leave is Governed by Both Federal and State Law
As an initial matter, it is important for employers and employees to understand that there are both state and federal leave laws that may apply. Generally speaking, leave granted by federal law is limited to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). State law may also provide additional protections, and may run either concurrently or in addition to the FMLA. As a result, it is important to discuss whatever questions you may have with an attorney who is well versed in both federal law and the law of the state where you work.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
One of the most common questions is what rights an employee may have during an extended absence. The FMLA was adopted by Congress in 1993 to address these questions. The FMLA entitled employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during any 12 months in the following situations:
- The employee’s own health issues prevent them from working.
- The employee has a family member (a parent, spouse, or child) that requires extensive care.
- The employee or the employee’s spouse has given birth to a child.
- The employee has adopted or taken a foster child into their home.
- The employee has a family member who was seriously injured while on active duty in the military.
- The employee needs to spend time with an active duty service member prior to deploying.
However, it is important to note that the FMLA applies only to employers with 50 employees or more who all work within a 75-mile radius. Employees must also qualify for coverage. Qualifications include:
- They must have worked for their employer for at least one year; and
- They worked at least 1,250 hours (or approximately 25 hours per week) in the last 12 months.
If either the employer or the employee doesn’t qualify, the employer may be entitled to terminate the employee rather than allow them to take an extended leave of absence.
It is vital to know that your state may provide distinct qualifications for an employer to provide an employee with protected leave, such as number of employees and the number of hours worked by the employee that is requesting leave. Additionally, other federal and state laws should also be considered when dealing with leave requests, including laws applying to pregnancy and disability.
Sick and Vacation Leave
Sick, vacation and other types of leave can also raise several issues for both employers and employees. These types of leave are generally governed by state law and the employer’s policies. An experienced employment lawyer can provide answers to your questions regarding accrual, use, and compensation for various types of leave.
Contact New Jersey and New York Firm Erdal Employment Law to Discuss Your Leave Issues Today
Issues involving leave are often more complex than they appear on the surface, and both employers and employees can make decisions that quickly limit their options. At Erdal Employment Law, we work with both businesses and employees to resolve these issues quickly and cost-effectively. Contact us to schedule a free consultation.