Employers often wonder what the law requires in connection with providing leave to employees due to the birth of a child.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) addresses this question. It applies to employers with more than 50 employees, and then to those employees who have been employed by that employer for at least 12 months.
The FMLA entitles employees to 12 workweeks during a 12-month period of unpaid leave due to the birth of a child. Entitlement to that leave expires at the end of the 12-month period following the birth of the child. While unpaid leave is permitted, an employee may use any unused paid vacation, sick leave, or other leave accrued during the 12-weeks of leave provided by the FMLA. Further, an employer may require that the employee use any unused paid vacation and/or sick leave during the 12 weeks of leave provided by the FMLA. However, the employer must give the employee reasonable notice should this be required. If the employee does not elect to any unused vacation or sick leave time during the 12 week FMLA leave, or if the employer does not require the employee to do so, the employee may use her vacation time and sick leave at another time.
In other words, the employer may either permit the employee to use FMLA leave and paid sick leave or vacation leave sequentially, or the employer may require that the employee use FMLA leave and paid sick leave or vacation leave concurrently. Strickland v. Water Works and Sewer Board of the City of Birmingham, 293 F.2d1199 (11th Cir. 2001). This is so because the FMLA and its regulations are designed to protect employers who offer paid sick leave or vacation leave to their employees from having to provide both the statutorily required 12 weeks of leave and paid leave benefits separately. Id.
Similarly, Louisiana law allows a female employee to take leave on account of pregnancy for a reasonable period of time not exceeding 4 months, and the employee is allowed to use accrued vacation leave during this period. La. R.S. 23:342. “Reasonable period of time” means that period during which the female employee is disabled on account of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. This law applies to employers with more than 25 employees in Louisiana.
While this is a general summary on the law pertaining to this issue, we advise you to speak to an attorney to make sure you are in full compliance with the law. Click here to learn more about our attorneys who handle Labor, Employment, and Workers’ Compensation issues.