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As companies improve family/medical leave offerings, still important to know your rights, P.2

Last time, we began speaking about the importance of understanding one’s rights as an employee when it comes to family/medical leave. As we noted, family/medical leave protections exist at both the state and federal level. While there is a trend of companies offering greater protections than required, employees still need to have a basic understanding of their entitlements under the law to ensure their employer doesn’t take advantage of their ignorance.

We’ve already spoken about the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. Here in Minnesota, the Parental Leave Act requires employers to provide employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave upon the birth or adoption of a child. In order to qualify, an employee must have worked for the company for at least half time for one year, the employee must have been with the company for at least one year, and the company must have 21 or more employees.

Time off under the Parental Leave Act must be taken within 12 months of the birth or adoption and must be requested. Employees are able to choose when their leave begins, but employers are allowed to adopt reasonable policies or rules as to when requests for leave must be made. It should also be borne in mind that paid leave can reduce the amount of parental leave that can be taken, as well as FMLA leave. Employees only have a right to 12 weeks of total leave for birth or adoption of a child or for pregnancy. Additional leave time may be available under the Family and Medical Leave Act, though, for serious health conditions not related to pregnancy.

Typically, employees tend not to think much about their leave rights until there is a conflict with their employer. It is important to have a working understanding of one’s entitlements, though, to ensure that one recognizes when there may be a problem. Those who have questions about their rights should speak to an experienced employment law attorney.

Sources: Minnesota Department of Labor & Industry, “State Parental Leave Act, federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA),” Accessed Dec. 31, 2015. 

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