Most employees are entitled to take a temporary leave of absence from their workplace regardless of how it affects the employer. State regulations vary, but under federal law, your company may be required to grant three types of leave with few questions asked. Here’s what you need to know as an employer.
The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) protects members of the military from job loss in the event of deployment. Separate from the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) that guarantees leave under certain conditions for the family members of military personnel, it entitles active service men and women up to five years of leave to fulfill military responsibilities, according to Workplace Fairness.
Under this law, the USERRA applies to both public and private employers, and it covers both voluntary and involuntary service members. It requires prompt reinstatement of employees upon return from service and preserves benefits, such as seniority. In all but emergency conditions, employees are required to give adequate notice, which is a point that should be reviewed with new hires and again periodically.
The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) covers up to 12 weeks of leave. According to Hayber Law Firm, there are minimum requirements that must be met in order for employees to file for leave protected by FMLA. Leave may be requested for an employee’s medical condition, the birth or adoption of a child, or the care of an ill spouse or child. In general, businesses with at least fifty employees are required to grant leave to staff members who have worked for the company for at least twelve months or 1250 hours.
Notice is required in most circumstances, and in some instances, leave can be denied. Best practice, however, dictates that businesses are better off working with staff to grant leave whenever possible rather than risk noncompliance with labor laws.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) protects employees from dismissal because of jury duty. According to Paychex, leave may be with or without pay, but select states may require employer contributions to a fund that pays jurors a daily stipend for their service. Because state laws on jury duty differ significantly by state, it’s important to be aware of what the laws are in the state where you work to determine if you have to pay employees on jury duty leave. It is important to note, however, that federal law does not require employers to pay nonexempt employees.
Another thing that varies by state is whether you can ask for proof of jury duty from your employees. In some states, employers are permitted to ask employees to show a summons as proof in order to receive jury duty leave. Even in states where proof isn’t required, a court will often provide some type of proof to employees who ask for it.
Extended leaves of absence can be a hardship for some employers, and while the law protects employees, there are specific provisions to protect businesses as well. Don’t let leaves of absence be a minefield for your human resources staff. Learn more about the law and how it applies to your business today.
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