If you receive a request from an employee wishing to take paid or unpaid leave for family or medical reasons, it is crucial to handle this request appropriately. Your actions (or inactions) could come back to haunt you in the form of a legal claim if your response is inadequate.
As such, consider the following tips:
Determine their eligibility
To determine whether an employee is eligible for Paid Family Leave under state laws, you must confirm whether they:
- Have worked for you for 26 weeks (if they typically work more than 20 hours per week)
- Have worked for you for 175 days (if they usually work less than 20 hours per week)
- Are an employee, not an independent contractor or freelancer
Employees taking unpaid leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act must meet these eligibility requirements:
- Have worked for you for 12 months
- Have completed 1,250 hours of work
You will also want to confirm that they are taking leave for a qualified reason, which could be a medical issue or caring for a new baby. As such, you may also need to secure a medical certification form from the employee.
Talk about their timing
Employees should make their requests at a reasonable time. A pregnant employee or someone scheduling surgery should give notice at least 30 days ahead of time. If they need to take time sooner than that, they should notify you as quickly as possible.
Once you know when they plan to leave, you can discuss whether they are taking all the time in one chunk or breaking it up into days, partial days or full weeks.
Make a plan for their job duties
Based on all the information you have, you can make a plan for how or if you will need to cover the employee’s job duties while they are away. Will you hire temporary workers? Ask others to take over specific projects? Change project deadlines or meeting times?
One thing you should not do after getting notice of leave is to retaliate against the employee for requesting it. This might involve permanently giving their job away, relocating them or demoting them upon their return. These actions could land you in legal hot water.
These tips can help you make informed decisions that protect your business as well as your employee’s rights.