are you following employee leave laws

Employee Leave Laws


As an employer, you are likely aware of many federal employment laws simply because they are most often covered in the news, articles, and employment-related training. However, there are also many less-publicized federal laws and many more at the state, city, and municipality levels about which you may not be aware – which could cause you to be out of compliance.

A prime example of these is employee leave laws. Leave laws are driven by many factors, including the physical work location of the employee, the number of employees on staff with the business, whether your company is involved in government business, and the industry or sector (public, private, government, non-profit) in which the business operates. The list below provides the various types of leaves that may be available to employees based on such factors. This is a sample and not a comprehensive list of all leaves available.

Federal Leave Laws

  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) – Allows up to 12 weeks of protected leave to eligible employees.
  • Uniformed Services Employment & Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) – Provides certain military leave rights.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) – Requires reasonable accommodation for a disability, including a leave of absence.

Examples of State/City/Municipality Laws.

  • Jury Duty and/or Witness Leave – Most states have laws prohibiting termination or other penalties to employees for responding to a jury summons or subpoena or serving on a jury, and some extend protections to employees serving as a witness or testifying in court. Some states require employers to pay employees while serving jury duty, and others specifically prohibit employers from requiring employees to use paid leave time such as vacation and PTO while serving jury duty.
  • Sick Leave or “Kin Care” Leave – Many states and cities require employers to provide paid sick leave for employees to use for personal or family member illness. This is a growing trend right now across the nation.
  • Family and Medical leave – Many states have enacted state-level family and medical leave laws that closely mirror those requirements of the federal FMLA leave law but may offer greater leave rights and protection than the federal FMLA law. State law will trump federal law, affording the employee greater rights.
  • Bereavement Leave – While many companies provide bereavement leave as a policy, two states currently have mandated bereavement leave requirements (Oregon and Illinois).
  • Voting Leave – Many states have voting leave requirements (paid or unpaid) and posting requirements for notification of voting leave rights before specific elections.
  • Maternity Leave – Some states, like California, provide leave protection under Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) and coverage under ADA.
  • State Disability Leave – Typically includes Workers’ Compensation coverage which provides paid leave due to an on-the-job injury.
  • Organ and Bone Marrow Donation Leave –Provides leave for employees serving as organ or bone marrow donors.
  • Parental School Leave – Provides leave to parents or guardians to attend or participate in school events of a dependent child.
  • Emergency Responder Leave – Allows leaving under certain situations to employees involved in emergency duties such as firefighting, emergency rescue, and law enforcement.
  • Domestic Violence Leave – Allows victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking and their family members to take reasonable leave from work for any of the reasons set out in the law.
  • Veterans’ Day and/or Memorial Day activities leave – Currently, one state (Massachusetts) requires employers to provide leave to eligible employees to attend Veterans’ Day and/or Memorial Day activities.
  • Public Employers
  • Federal Holiday Leave – Federal government employers must allow employees to take time off on designated holidays.
  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) – applies to all public agencies and all public and private elementary and secondary schools, regardless of employee count.

Government Contractors and Sub-Contractors

  • Paid Sick Leave – Federal contractors must provide their employees with at least seven paid sick days.


As noted, the list above is not all-inclusive. Therefore, employers are encouraged to review their human resources policies, procedures, and practices ensuring they are aware of and in compliance with all federal, state, and local employment law requirements. By Deborah Siddoway, HR Coach Sources: Department of Labor (DOL) federal and state leave laws.

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