The federal Family and Medical Leave Act has required companies to give employees leave for medical reasons, the birth or adoption of a child, and several other reasons since the 1990s. However, many states are now making their own laws that give employees rights to additional leave time and, sometimes, to pay during their time off.

What to Know about State Leave Laws

Over the past few years, state governments have passed laws requiring companies to give employees time off for a variety of reasons. Here are some of the types of laws HR departments should be aware of when crafting a leave policy:

  • Family leave: In 2019, six states have laws that expand parental and family leave beyond federal requirements. While federal law only requires employers to provide 12 weeks of unpaid time off to care for a new child or a family member, many of these laws extend the time, and three states require that employees be paid during this time. Many other states have similar leave laws in the works.
  • Safe leave: A growing number of states are starting to require “safe leave” for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. This leave is intended to give victims time to deal with legal paperwork, relocate, or receive mental health treatment.
  • Pregnancy leave: Though federal law protects pregnant women from discrimination during the workplace, some states have started to pass additional laws, giving women time off due to health concerns during a pregnancy.
  • Paid sick leave: Five states now require companies to offer employees paid sick leave. The number of days varies from state to state.

Best Practices for Handling Employee Leave

With the shifting state regulations for state leave, HR managers must make sure they stay up to date. It’s also important to have a consistent system in place for managing leave. To properly manage leave, the HR department should:

  • Have a clear policy: A company’s leave policies should be designed to comply with state and federal laws, as well as being clearly laid out in the employee handbook.
  • Train managers on policies and laws: Managers should know both the company policies and state laws regarding leave to avoid problems when an employee makes a request.
  • Set clear notification periods: While things like medical leave can’t always be predicted, employees should know how long in advance they have to inform their employer about other types of leave.
  • Use one system: It’s important to have one clear avenue for employees to request or inform managers about leave. Allowing verbal requests or having multiple avenues for employees to make their request can cause confusion.

To learn how LBMC Employment Partners can help your company with employee leave expertise, contact us today.