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Long before a need or crisis arises, let employees know you care about their well-being and desire to support them in all of life’s ups and downs. However, make sure they know what can and cannot be modified in their individual positions. This means your job descriptions should have essential duties clearly identified so everyone understands their job requirements.
Remember there are two types of leave: mandatory and voluntary.
Federal and state laws regulate mandatory leave. Mandatory leave includes medical leave (leave associated with the Americans with Disabilities Act or the Family and Medical Leave Act), military leave, and short-term leave for voting, vaccination, and jury duty.
Voluntary leave is not required by law and is offered as a benefit to employees per company policy. A company may grant voluntary leave to employees who have exhausted their time off and don’t otherwise qualify for mandatory leave.
Unlike mandatory leave, companies do not have to offer job protection during a voluntary leave, although some may choose to do so.
If an employee is suddenly or excessively absent from work, ask if there is something they need to tend to and any way your company can assist. Should they need extended time off, designate it FMLA if your company is a covered employer and your employee is eligible.
An employee is eligible for FMLA if they have worked 1250 hours. It allows up to 12 weeks off in a 12-month period. Employees may take it for:
Childbirth, adoption, and foster care
Serious health condition
Caring for a family member with a serious health condition
Specific military reasons (including care of a service member)
Companies are obligated to pay employees on FMLA only if the employee has paid time off or sick time. However, some companies write additional paid leave time into their leave of absence policy as an added benefit to employees.
To cover all the details, companies need a detailed leave of absence policy as well as a leave of absence request form for employees. While there are free templates floating around, it’s best to work with an attorney to create a policy that fits your company’s needs and is legally compliant.