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Paid Family and Sick Leave Laws

Taking time off to care for your health or that of a family member can be a trying experience for any worker. Adding to the costs and concerns of wellness is the possibility that any time you take off from work may go unpaid.

Some employers offer paid sick leave for employees. But for many workers in the U.S., paid sick leave is not a benefit offered by their employer. This is particularly so for low-income workers and those working for small businesses.

States Without Laws for Family and Medical Leave

Most states do not have their own family and medical leave laws. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) became law to allow eligible employees to take unpaid sick leave in certain circumstances.

FMLA applies to public agencies (including local, state, and federal government employees) and private employers with 50 or more employees. FMLA allows workers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave over 12 months for the following reasons:

  • To care for a newborn, adopted, or foster child
  • To address the worker's own serious medical condition
  • To care for an immediate family member with a severe health condition

It's important to understand your rights and responsibilities under FMLA. Also, there are notice requirements for employers and employees. Explore these resources to find answers to your frequently asked questions (FAQs).

States Offering Paid Family and Sick Leave Policies

Only a handful of states and municipalities offer employees paid or partially paid family or medical leave benefits. Below is a list of these states and summaries of their paid family and paid sick leave laws. Please note some employers and states offer various types of disability benefits in addition to the paid leaves provided by the states listed below.

Some states expanded family members to include domestic partners. Others raised the qualifying reasons to have leave for employees or their family members who need care and services for sexual assault or domestic violence or to allow employees to handle a public health emergency that results in the closure of their child's school.

In Arizona, the paid sick leave requirements vary based on the number of employees, including the minimal accrual hours of earned paid sick time per year that employees can use. Employers with 15 or more employees can't accrue or use more than 40 hours of paid sick time per year. Employers with less than 15 employees can't exceed 24 hours per year unless the employer chooses a higher limit. All employees working for compensation on a full-time or part-time basis in a given week count toward these employee totals.

Starting Jan. 1, 2026, Minnesota will provide two types of paid time for family or medical leave. Minnesotans will be eligible to take up to 12 weeks for a single qualifying event. Or, they can take up to 20 weeks if a worker experiences more than one qualifying event in a claim year. Workers will not have to take all the paid leave at one time. For example, suppose an employee must take a grandparent for chemotherapy once a week. In that case, the minimum number of hours they can claim daily is eight hours of work for family leave.

While all states must follow the FMLA, employees should remember that some states have their own family and medical leave laws that offer more protections and cover more employers, employees, and circumstances than the FMLA does. Employees should also remember that they don't have to specify the law under which they request leave. Employers must apply the law most beneficial to the employee under the circumstances. Employees can use the state map page for more information on their state's family and medical leave laws.

Talk To an Employment Law Attorney About Your Medical Care and Family Leave Concerns

If you don't get your family leave time as state or federal law provides, talk to an employment law attorney for help. An employment lawyer in your area can explain your options, such as getting a medical certification under the FMLA, completing a fitness for duty certification, or investigating your case to help you get the time off and pay to which you are entitled to take care of your family.

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