How federal and state family and medical leave laws work together

The United States government has specific extended leave statutes in place, called the Family and Medical Leave Act, to protect workers across the nation. State laws cannot detract from this legislation, but they can provide additional benefits. If a state or federal law is weaker than the other, the stronger one must be followed. Wisconsin has its own laws that provide leave in a number of circumstances for employees across the state.

Under both state and federal law, coverage must be provided by companies with at least 50 employees. Wisconsin law states companies must have that number of workers for the past six months, while the federal government reduces that number to just 20 weeks. In addition, there are different regulations regarding the amount of notice given to take leave. The national government requires at least 30 days’ notice, if practical. Wisconsin, on the other hand, only mandates that workers give reasonable notice in light of the circumstances.

For leave, the federal government requires 12 weeks a year for maternity/adoption, sickness, caring for a parent, etc. If spouses work for the same company, the leave time must be shared. Wisconsin, however, breaks it down a bit. For maternity or adoption, mothers get six weeks a year. In addition, workers get two weeks annually to care for a sick family member, plus two weeks if they fall ill themselves.

There are many other ways both national and state leave regulations work together. If you find yourself needing an extended leave and are unsure of your rights, an employment law attorney may be able to clear up any confusion.


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