What types of leave are workers legally entitled to?
- All public agencies
- All public and private elementary and secondary schools
- Companies with 50 or more employees
In most cases, you’re entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid leave within a 12-month period (as long as you meet certain requirements).
Whether it be to care for a new child or an ill family member, the FMLA guarantees 12 weeks of unpaid leave. The exception to this rule is military caregiver leave, which gives you 26 weeks to care for a service member with a serious injury or illness. In the end, this guaranteed time off helps support a healthy work/life balance.
However, support for paid time off
continues to grow. As a result, several states have passed laws
that make these benefits available in their jurisdictions. The details of these programs vary by state, but employees and/or employers generally contribute to their funding through payroll taxes.
States with Paid Family Leave in 2023
| State || Length of Leave || Things to note |
| California ||8 weeks || |
| Colorado ||12 weeks, pregnancy/birth complications may get + 4 weeks ||While premium payments begin in 2023, this leave only becomes available to take on January 1st, 2024. |
| Connecticut ||12 weeks, pregnancy complications may get + 2 weeks || |
| Delaware ||12 weeks || |
| Massachusetts ||12 weeks || |
| Maryland ||12 weeks ||Contributions start October 2023 and the program comes into effect in 2025. |
| New Jersey ||12 consecutive weeks or 8 intermittent || |
| New York ||12 weeks || |
| Oregon ||12 weeks, pregnancy complications may get + 2 weeks ||Contributions start January 2023 and employees may start taking leave September 2023. |
| Rhode Island ||Up to 6 weeks || |
| Washington ||12 weeks, 16 weeks when combining family/medical, 18 weeks due to pregnancy/birth complications || |
| District of Columbia ||12 weeks, pregnancy complication may get +2 weeks || |
Medical (sick) leave
Just as you’re guaranteed time off to care for a loved one, the FMLA allows employees to take 12 weeks unpaid to deal with a serious health condition.
Other states or cities may mandate unpaid sick leave as well. However, a growing number of states are enacting laws that ensure paid sick leave. These programs typically supplement the FMLA, as well as any local COVID-19 measures that may be in effect.
Sick leave programs are often flexible, allowing employers to grant a set number of hours all at once, or letting employees accrue hours.
Currently, the following 16 states legislate paid sick leave:
While sick leave gives you time off to deal with a health condition, there are different laws that protect job security and income if you get injured while working.
How does workers’ compensation work?
If you suffer a work-related injury or illness, the Federal Employees Compensation Act
guarantees paid health care, wage replacement, and possibly further support in recovery. This act covers all federal employees
and, in some cases, contractors, volunteers, and loaned employees.
In addition, each state has its own labor laws and compensation programs available to its workers
. These laws vary widely, with different rules for the type of worker that qualifies for compensation. Overall though, these programs facilitate claims between workers, employers, and insurance companies.
Worker’s comp and company policies
If you're on workers' compensation leave, your company may also consider that time as part of the 12 weeks of leave you’re guaranteed by the FMLA. However, your company must:
- inform you that they’re doing this before your leave begins
- allow you to take the leave the provides you with the most benefits
If you take FMLA leave instead of (or together with) workers' compensation leave, remember that any health benefits through your employer are still available to you while you’re on FMLA leave.
These health benefits may not be available when on workers' compensation leave, but workers' compensation will cover the medical costs of your injury.
Can employees take time off to vote or for jury duty?
Voting and jury duty are civic duties that most employees will need to make time for—but not all employers need to pay them for it.
Federal laws don’t require paid leave for voting or jury duty. In most cases, this benefit is up to an employer’s discretion.
However, some state laws do regulate jury duty leave
. These laws may prevent employers from pressuring someone out of jury duty or penalizing them for going. On the other hand, laws may outline when it’s appropriate
for an employer to ask for an employee to be excused from jury duty.
In any case, it’s best practice to review your Employment Agreement and request time off in advance to ensure you’re following company policy.