Comparing federal and state family and medical leave laws

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.

Some areas where Wisconsin law gives stronger rights include the notification requirement for taking leave. Under federal law, the request must be made at least 30 days in advance, if practicable. Wisconsin only requires that the notice be reasonable under the circumstances, which could be less than 30 days. Federal law only allows intermittent leave when medically necessary, but Wisconsin allows greater latitude for taking an intermittent leave.

The different types of leave fall into different categories of varying lengths. Federal law gives a blanket amount of 12 weeks of leave in the year, regardless of category. Depending on the employee’s situation, this could be better or worse.

For employees who have faced discrimination over their attempt to take family leave, an employment law attorney may be able to help. Since these claims must be filed within a certain time period, prompt attention can be critical.

Source: DWD, “Comparison of Federal and Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave Laws“, December 19, 2014

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