FMLA guidelines for Paid Time Off

by on January 27, 2009 · 1 Comment POSTED IN: HR Info Center

Help your company understand FMLA regulations

FMLA guidelines require covered employers to provide eligible employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for medical emergencies, family health crises, or the birth or adoption of a child.
But what if an FMLA-eligible employee has accrued paid leave available – vacation days, sick days or personal days, for example? Here’s a Q&A to help guide through FMLA regulations:

    1. How do accrued vacation days work with the FMLA’s requirement for unpaid leave?
    The Family Medical Leave Act allows employers to require employees to use up paid leave first, so that the paid and unpaid leave run concurrently.
    Example: If an eligible worker with one week of accrued paid vacation time requests FMLA time off, the employer would pay for one week of his leave.
    2. Who decides whether an employee will use accrued paid vacation days?
    Either the employer or employee can decide. The employer may require it or the worker may elect to use accrued vacation days for all or part of the 12-week leave. Many firms choose to make this a requirement because it minimizes employees’ time away from the job.
    For example, say you don’t make it a requirement, and a worker with two weeks of accrued paid vacation requests 12 weeks of leave under FMLA guidelines. Upon his return from leave he will still have two weeks of paid vacation time owed to him. But if you make it a requirement, upon his return, he will have been paid for two of his 12 weeks of leave and he’ll have no remaining paid vacation days available.
    3. When may employees decide to use accrued vacation or personal days under FMLA rules?
    Accrued vacation or personal days can be used at any time during the leave under FMLA rules. Employers may not restrict how this time is used.
    4. May employees use paid sick leave during FMLA leave?
    Yes, depending on your sick-day policy.
    If your policy allows employees to apply paid sick days only for their own illnesses, then they may not use their paid sick days to care for someone else while on FMLA leave. In that case, those days would be regular unpaid FMLA time off.
    5. What about when an employee is on paid leave covered by workers’ comp or short-term disability?
    FMLA guidelines that allow for the substitution of paid leave do not apply if a worker is receiving compensation through such a plan, even if it’s to make up the difference between what workers comp or STD pays and the worker’s regular pay.
    However, employers can and should count this paid leave against the employee’s 12-week entitlement.
    6. What are an employer’s obligations to notify workers about the use of paid time off during FMLA leave?
    If you provide workers with an employee policy handbook, you must include your paid time off/FMLA policy in the book.

When an employee requests FMLA leave, you must provide him a separate, written notice of the policy. If you fail to provide notice, the employee may be entitled to 12 weeks of leave under FMLA guidelines plus any eligible paid time off accrued.

  • jeff

    can an employee work a part time job on his scheduled days off when he is using fmla (baby leave)

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