Paid Time Off Sharing: Make Policy Fair

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Question: Several times in the past we’ve allowed employee “A” to donate unused sick leave to employee “B” who needs help. Now again an employee has requested permission to donate sick time.  We don’t have a written policy on this.  We don’t have a problem allowing this but think it’s time we make some decisions and put our policy in writing.  Can you give us some guidance?

Specifically, should an employee in need have exhausted all of his or her time before receiving time from someone else?  Should we put a limit on the number of days that can be given to an employee? If a high paid employee donates to a lower paid employee, how is the donated time valued?

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Maryland Parental Leave Act for Small Employers

maryland-43786_1280Maryland’s Parental Leave Act (PLA) became effective October 1, 2014.  The PLA requires small employers, with between 15 and 49 employees in Maryland, to provide an unpaid leave of absence to employees for the birth of a child or the placement of a child for adoption or foster care.

During a twelve month period, employers are required to provide six weeks of unpaid time off under the PLA.  This is the main difference between PLA and the federally mandated leave of absence under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) which allows up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave.

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FMLA Forms Give Employer Protection

control-427510_1280To comply with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), covered employers have to do some decision-making and documenting.  And this isn’t always easy because the FMLA rules can get complicated.  The challenges become somewhat easier, however, when an employer uses two FMLA forms provided by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).

But before getting to the DOL forms, an employer needs to know if the business or organization is obligated to comply with the FMLA.  FMLA puts obligations on all companies which have 50 or more employees for each working day during each of the 20 or more calendar workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year.  All public agencies, and all public and private elementary and secondary schools are covered employers without regard to the number of employees they have.

Next, a covered employer needs to know if an employee is eligible to take leave under the FMLA.  An eligible employee is one who works at a jobsite where 50 or more persons are employed within 75 miles of the jobsite.  Also, an eligible employee must have been employed by the company for at least 12 months (not necessarily consecutively), and must have been employed for at least 1,250 hours during the 12-month period immediately preceding the start of the leave.

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New Domestic Leave Law in Massachusetts

massachusetts-43766_1280At the same time NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell faces tough questions about Ray Rice, a new domestic violence law went into effect in Massachusetts.  Employers with 50 or more employees must now provide employees who are victims of domestic violence up to 15 days of leave in any 12-month period.  Governor Deval Patrick signed the law on August 8, 2014 and it became effective immediately so employers should not delay in taking steps to come into compliance.

Leave is also allowed to employees if a family member is a victim of abusive behavior, including spouses, parents, step-parents, children, step-children, siblings, grandparents, and grandchildren.  The definition of family member also includes those in a “substantive” dating or engagement relationship and who live together, persons having a child in common regardless of whether they have ever married or lived together, or a guardian.

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