Dealing with an employee’s leave of absence can be a complicated, difficult process for companies, but providing time off in certain situations is not only a federal and state law—it’s a way to show your team that you value them as people, not just for the work they perform as employees.

So what are the leave of absence requirements and compliance obligations for you as an employer?

Leave Of Absence Requirements: An Overview

When employees request time off from work, employers should consider their obligations under federal, state, and local leave laws.

At the federal level, there are three primary laws that employers may need to comply with when handling leave requests and creating leave policies: FMLA, ADA, and USERRA.

Additionally, employers should also be aware of the state and local laws that impact employee leaves. Many states have their own family and medical leave regulations, or other laws that allow employees to take leave in certain situations, such as leave for parents to attend school events.

Coordinating employee leaves under the various leave laws can be a challenge for employers. State leave laws often provide greater protections to employees than federal leave laws. Also, state and local laws tend to change more frequently than federal laws, which means employers need to monitor legal developments to stay up to date. Several states, including Massachusetts, have implemented paid leave requirements, which provide another layer of compliance to consider.

In some circumstances, more than one type of leave law may apply to an employee’s request for time off. Click To Tweet

Employers should make sure their leave policies are consistent with applicable laws and are administered correctly. In some circumstances, more than one type of leave law may apply to an employee’s request for time off. In these situations, the employer should generally comply with the leave of absence law or rule that is most favorable or generous to the employee.

For instance, in Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Parental Leave Act allows for up to eight weeks of unpaid maternity or paternity leave to employees for the purpose of giving birth or adopting a child, and they could also be eligible for FMLA. The two leave protections would run concurrently.

3 Tips For Leave Of Absence Compliance

Administering leaves of absence can be a complex and confusing process. While not comprehensive by any means, the three tips below will be helpful in setting you up for success. (To see the rest of the compliance tips, check out our Leave of Absence Guide).

  1. Determine which employee leave laws and policies may apply to an employee’s leave request. Employers may need to review an employee’s situation carefully to determine their leave obligations. Employees are not always clear about why they need to take leave, and may not cooperate with the employer’s leave process. However, despite these obstacles, the employee may still have leave rights under the law.
  2. Make sure any managers or supervisors who are involved in the employee leave process receive training on the employer’s leave policies. This will help ensure employee leaves are administered in a manner that is consistent with applicable laws.
  3. Administer the employer’s leave policies in a consistent and nondiscriminatory manner across the organization. Maintaining consistency can help protect an employer from claims of illegal leave administration, including claims of retaliation or discrimination.

But that’s not all!

There’s a lot more you need to know about employee leaves of absence. To get the details, download our free Leave of Absence Guide below.