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Aug11

Leave of Absence

I have 19 employees. We do not offer paid maternity leave. How many weeks must I hold my employee’s job for after she delivers her baby?

The federal Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles eligible employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job protected leave for certain family and medical reasons, including childbirth and baby bonding, within a 12-month period. An eligible employee is one who works for an employer with at least 50 employees. Thus, the employee is not covered under the FMLA.

It’s worth noting that some states have adopted state leave laws. Most of these laws have the 50 employee criteria like the FMLA.

The federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) prohibits sex discrimination on the basis of pregnancy. Under the PDA, an employer that allows temporarily disabled employees to take leave must allow an employee who is temporarily disabled due to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical condition to do the same. Further, employers must hold open a job for a pregnancy related absence the same length of time that jobs are held open for employees on sick or temporary disability leave. Employers with at least 15 employees are covered under the PDA.

With 19 employees, you’re required to comply with the PDA. So, consider what, if any, leaves you’ve provided to other temporarily disabled employees in the past. For example, if you allowed an employee who broke his leg to take two weeks off to recover, then the employee in question must be offered the same benefit.

You may want to consider adopting a personal leave of absence policy to address similar matters in the future. Doing so ensures employees are treated in a consistent, fair, and non-discriminatory manner. The policy should include the eligibility criteria for a personal leave, maximum amount of leave time allowed, whether such time is paid or unpaid, the application process, and the right of the employer to approve/deny leave requests based on business needs.

Just a side note: As you probably know, a comprehensive benefits package attracts and retains good workers. Consider providing paid leave, even of a short duration. At least, consider adopting an unpaid leave of absence policy as mentioned. You may find that offering such benefits is actually less expensive than terminating an employee and hiring a replacement. Plus, good benefits help employees feel valued and supported by their employer.

HTH!

This entry was posted on Thursday, August 11th, 2016 at 12:51 pm and is filed under
Benefits, Labor Laws.
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