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State leave laws
  • Many states have laws that provide for some form of employee leave.
  • The laws may apply to certain employers and have employee eligibility criteria.

Employers are aware that the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides job-protected leave for employees who meet the eligibility criteria and work for a covered employer. However, most states have adopted laws that protect employees for many other types of leave. For instance, all states have laws that allow employees to take time off for jury duty, and quite a few require the employer to continue paying the employee during jury duty.

Other types of job-protected leave include time off for:

  • Sick leave,
  • Voting (usually only a few hours, with advanced notice often required),
  • Attending certain school functions (often limited to disciplinary hearings),
  • Victims of crimes or domestic violence,
  • Spouses or family members of those in the military (beyond the FMLA provisions),
  • Attending court proceedings or responding to a subpoena (employees should be granted time off even if state law does not address it since the employee could be in contempt of court for failing to appear),
  • Emergency workers such as volunteer firefighters who respond to calls, and
  • Donating blood, organs, and/or bone marrow.

Organizations should establish policies for employee leave. These polices should be tailored to the specific needs of their workforce. For example, some companies allow a specific number of days, or hours, which can be taken as paid leave. Another option is to allow employees to take a certain amount of unpaid leave. There are also times when a company (because of federal and state law) must allow an employee to take leave.