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.