Wisconsin employees may have heard about a federal rule that was to become effective on March 27 that allowed employees to take FMLA leave in order to care for a same-sex partner, regardless of whether or not same-sex marriage is legal in the state. On April 6, it was reported that a Texas federal judge granted an injunction to stop enforcement of the rule.
People in Wisconsin might be interested to learn of the recent Department of Labor announcement that same-sex married couples will now enjoy the same protections under the Family and Medical Leave Act as do heterosexual couples. With the update in guidelines, same-sex couples will now be able to take leave to care for a sick spouse, including those living in states that do not recognize the institution.
The Family and Medical Leave Act is the first and only federal law that addresses the balance between jobs and family that workers in Wisconsin and across the U.S. must maintain. The 12 weeks of unpaid leave guaranteed by the act has been used more than 200 million times since being passed. Reasons for taking leave vary, including recovering from a serious illness, caring for a loved one who is ill or receiving maternity or paternity leave.
Wisconsin employees may be interested in information about how the federal and state laws governing medical and family leave differ. Depending on the strength of each law in a particular area, different provisions could apply. Any time a Wisconsin state family and medical leave law provides greater protection than the federal law, an employer in Wisconsin must abide by the stronger state law. Employers who are covered by both state and federal lawmust continually comply with both. The requirement for employer coverage under Wisconsin law is that there must be at least 50 permanent employees over at least 6 months during the past year. The federal requirement is the same regarding the number of employees, but it must be for at least 20 weeks over the previous or current year.
Wisconsin workers who are covered under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 may be eligible for leave under certain circumstances. For example, if certain requirements are met, a worker may be able to seek a reduced schedule or intermittent leave without fear of retaliation if the worker or the workers family suffers from certain medical conditions.
Under the Family Medical Leave Act, qualified employees in Wisconsin may take unpaid leave in certain situations. Employers are not allowed to take any action that may abridge, deny or otherwise make it not possible for an employee to take leave if they are eligible to do so. Furthermore, employers are not allowed to take any type of retaliatory action against any employee who exercises his or her rights under the act.
Employers in Wisconsin with 50 or more employees are required by state and federal law to grant their employees medical leave in certain situations. The Family and Medical Leave Act was passed by Congress in 1993, and the Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave Act added to and amended certain provisions of the federal law.
New Wisconsin mothers who seek time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act may find that exceptions in the existing legislation provide their employers with various legal grounds to deny them benefits. Although this law ostensibly guarantees 12 weeks of unpaid leave for new parents of both genders, employers can potentially avoid their obligations in a number of ways.
In Wisconsin, it is illegal to fire or withhold benefits from an employee due to a pregnancy. The federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act also forbids an employer from discriminating against a pregnant employee in regards to pay, job assignments or training opportunities. If an employee is unable to perform job duties temporarily due to a pregnancy, the employer is obligated to treat that employee like any other temporarily disabled employee.
Employees in Wisconsin who wish to take leave from their jobs might be able to get paid time off through the Family and Medical Leave Act. Not all types of leave are covered nor do they all result in paid leave. Also, employers are not always required to inform their workers if they qualify for medical leave or family leave. Employees who understand the process of and how to provide their employer with notice might be more likely to get the leave they want.