According to the National Partnership for Women and Families, more than 50 million Americans have taken job-protected pay leave under the Family Medical and Leave Act (FMLA) since it was passed in 1993. This law, and others such as the American Disabilities Act (ADA) and Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), mandate that employers give employees time off for medical reasons under specific circumstances.
When used correctly, these laws give employers the time off they need to recover from illness, care for a sick family member, or bond with a new member of the family. But, they can also be abused. Complex laws are constantly changing, and vary by state. It can feel like a Herculean task to keep track of leave and absence regulations, and because of fear of costly penalties and fines, many organizations end up granting leave in situations where its not warranted.
Is your employees absence legally protected? Here are five things to consider:
- The size of your company. Leave regulations such as FMLA, ADA, and PDA apply only to companies over a certain size. FMLA provides protection for those who work for organizations with more than 50 employees, while ADA and PDA protect individuals who work for organizations with staffs of more than 15.
- The definition of a serious health condition. Its not up to the employer to determine what it considers serious. FMLA qualifies a serious health condition as an illness or injury that requires more than three consecutive days of absence, or two or more doctors visits in 30 days. Typically, things like cancer, surgery, heart attack, and morning sickness qualify. The common cold, flu, or stomach bug usually do not.
- Situations in which leave can be taken, absent of serious illness. An employee can take leave under FMLA, for example, if their spouse, child, or parent is seriously ill, or to bond with a newborn, newly adopted child, or foster child.
- State and local leave laws. State and local laws vary by state, and can be different from federal laws. Some state and local laws may provide more protection than federal laws. When state and federal laws differ, the employee is eligible for protection under the regulations that give the most rights.
- If you’re up to date on all laws. As laws are constantly changing, determining if you’re up to date, then applying laws, may seem like an impossible feat. The costs of violating regulations are steep, but so is the cost of allowing employees to take leave they don’t qualify for. Be sure to discuss complex situations with an attorney who specializes in employee leave and absence law. Automated time and attendance software capable of tracking leave laws and regulations and applying them to situations in your organization ensure employees get the leave they deserve, but not more than they deserve. These state-of-the art systems can determine when leave is appropriate, and can also alert employers when they are at risk of violating leave laws.
For more information on how to manage employee leave, book a free demo with the experts at Mitrefinch.