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5 Types of Employee Leave You Must Allow

By Betty Wang, JD | Last updated on

When an employee asks for a day off, an employer generally has discretion to approve it or not. But there are some types of leave that employers must allow.

There's a broad range of reasons for workers to request time off, including vacations, sick days, jury duty, and personal emergencies. Some time-off requests must be approved, though they don't always have to be paid.

Here's a general overview of five different types of employee leave that employers must allow:

  1. Family leave. Under federal law, employers who must abide by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) must provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to eligible employees for qualified family reasons, such as caring for a newborn child. The employer and employee must both meet certain eligibility requirements first, though. For example, the employee must have been employed by the company for 12 months.
  2. Medical leave. The FMLA also covers medical leave for reasons such as having to care for a spouse, son, daughter, or parent who is struggling with a serious health condition. That's in addition to situations involving the employee's own serious health condition.
  3. Jury duty. While there is no federal law that requires employers to give employees time off for jury duty, most states have enacted laws that forbid employers from retaliating against employees for taking time off for jury duty. In fact, some states like Connecticut even require that employers pay their employees up to a certain number of days when they're performing jury service.
  4. Time off for voting. Much like with jury duty, there is no federal law that requires that employers give time off to vote. However, many states have laws that require an employer to grant a certain amount of time to employees to leave the workplace to vote. It's best to check your state laws about this.
  5. Military leave. The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) stipulates that employees who take military leave (which is usually considered an unpaid leave of absence) have a right to re-employment. This means once an employee returns from active duty, he is generally entitled to the same salary and other benefits that come with the seniority of the position he held before he was deployed. There are some limits and other caveats to this law, however.

For answers to more specific questions about employee leave, it may be best to consult with an experienced employment attorney near you.

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