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Employer requirements for leaves of absence and reasonable accommodations

On Behalf of | Feb 28, 2024 | Employment Law |

Employers always have to ensure compliance with state and federal laws related to reasonable accommodations. It’s important to note that work leave is also considered a form of reasonable accommodation.

There are three key pieces of federal legislation that deal with work leave and accommodations. These are the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA).

Outlined below are some of the key points mentioned in each piece of legislation.

Accommodations under the PWFA

The PWFA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for workers who have limitations related to pregnancy. This includes making the workplace more accessible and comfortable, altering work schedules and providing extra breaks.

Leave under the FMLA

The FMLA governs an employee’s rights to take work leave for family or medical reasons, including pregnancy. Pregnant workers are entitled to up to 12 weeks of maternity leave. However, it’s important to note that this only applies to companies with more than 15 or more employees.

Workers may also be entitled to leave under the FMLA if:

  • They have worked at least 1,250 hours for the 12 months prior to the leave, work in locations with at least 50 employees within 75 miles and have worked with the business for at least 12 months (which need not be consecutive).
  • Have a serious medical condition lasting at least three days
  • They are caring for an injured service person
  • They are caring for a seriously ill family member

This leave is usually unpaid, but positions must be left open and health insurance should be continued when applicable.

Leave under the ADA

Workers are also entitled to reasonable accommodations (change in schedules, increased accessibility, etc.) and leave under the ADA if they have a physical or mental health impairment that restricts their ability to work. Each case should be assessed individually when deciding on the amount of leave required, and the only exception to providing reasonable accommodations or leave is if it would cause undue hardship to the business.

As a business owner, it is vital to comply with regulations related to accommodations and leave. We help companies adhere to the law in these areas, feel free to contact us for a consultation.