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FMLA and Vacation Leave

If an employee was approved for vacation prior to an FMLA approval for a closed period of time, can the employee still use the vacation hours during that approved period and not designate the time as FMLA? Do we have to allow them to use vacation or can this remain as sick/FMLA?

The federal Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles eligible employees of covered employers up to 12 workweeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in a defined 12-month period for specified family and medical reasons.

Though FMLA leave is unpaid, employees may choose or employers may require the substitution of paid vacation leave for covered situations.  When paid vacation, or any paid leave for that matter, is substituted for unpaid FMLA leave, the time used may be counted against the employee’s 12-week FMLA leave entitlement. However, doing so is only permitted if the employee is properly notified of such when the leave begins. An employer may allow employees to use their accrued paid time off to extend their 12-week leave entitlement. Such a practice is uncommon since it encourages employees to be away from work longer. But, it’s a nice benefit to offer employees and good benefits attract and retain good workers.

Remember to consider how you’ve treated other employees either on FMLA leave or non-FMLA leave in similar situations in the past. Have you allowed an employee on unpaid non-FMLA leave to extend his/her leave time by using vacation time? If so, the same benefits provided to employees on non-FMLA leave must be provided to those on FMLA leave.

Whichever practice is adopted make sure it’s clearly noted in the employee handbook and employees are notified of designations as mentioned above.


This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016 at 6:36 pm and is filed under
Benefits, Labor Laws.
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