FMLA in Florida

First, a quick review: the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that requires employers who meet certain criteria to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave along with job protection and continuing healthcare coverage to eligible employees for specific reasons. A covered employer is required to grant FMLA leave when the employee or a direct family member of the employee has developed a serious medical condition, when the employee has recently given birth to or adopted a child, or when one of the employee’s children is being placed into foster care. One other situation in which an employer is required to grant FMLA leave is when the parent, spouse, or child of an employee is on active duty or is called to active duty in the National Guard. The situations that qualify an employee for FMLA leave are quite specific, and it is up to the employer to verify that their employee is actually eligible to be granted FMLA leave.

In addition to complying with FMLA, many states have their own leave laws that complement the federal act. In this article, we’ll take a look at FMLA in Florida.

Florida: Federal FMLA and State Leave Laws Differences

In Florida, FMLA and state leave laws differ in a number of ways. Not only do covered employers have to comply with federal FMLA in Florida, but employees in Florida are also granted the right by the state to take time off of work to deal with domestic violence issues. According to Florida state law, if a workplace has employed 50 people or more, they must grant employees who are victims of domestic or sexual abuse up to three days (in a 12-month period) off for the following reasons:

• The employee is seeking an injunction or legal assistance;

• The employee is moving to a safer location or taking measures to better protect their current residence;

• The employee is seeking medical care or counseling services; or

• The employee is getting help from a victims’ rights organization, a rape crisis center, or a shelter.
According to the law, an employee is also permitted to take the three days to give support to a family member who is a victim of domestic or sexual violence.

Federal FMLA in Florida: State Employees

Employees of the state of Florida are further protected by some additional state leave laws that do not apply to employees of private companies. In fact, aside from the additional domestic violence leave law, those employed by private companies are only protected by federal FMLA in Florida.

State employees can be granted as much as 6 months’ of leave in the following cases:

• The employee has adopted a child, or they or their spouse are pregnant.

• Either the employee or their family member is suffering from a serious medical condition, which includes hospitalization for a condition that will require an organ transplant, amputation of a limb, or something equally as severe, an illness or health condition in which death is a serious concern, an accident, or a mental or physical condition in which it is necessary that the person receive care at home.

Thus far, Florida’s state leave law and the federal FMLA have some similarities in addition to their marked differences. FMLA in Florida goes on to make some specific provisions for state employees that are outside the scope of federal FMLA entirely.
State employees in Florida must be allowed to use their accrued paid sick leave, in addition to their FMLA in Florida leave, for any reason that would normally qualify them to take said paid sick leave. Furthermore, the state cannot make it mandatory for an employee to “use or lose” their leave.
Unlike federal FMLA, Florida’s state leave also touches on administrative leave. State employees are allowed to take one hour of administrative leave per month for the following reasons:

• The employee is participating in or attending a local activity at their child’s school (this goes for children in preschool all the way through high school).

• The employee is visiting their child in day care.

Unlike federal FMLA, Florida state leave law also makes provisions for “family responsibilities,” which the law interprets as settling a deceased parent’s estate, caring for an aging parent, sending a dependent child to a new school, and/or a visit to a family member that requires extensive travel. Employees may be granted up to 30 days of unpaid leave to take care of the above family responsibilities.

When they return from leave, Florida state employees must be reinstated into the exact same job in which they were working before they took time off: this includes the same pay, seniority, and retirement and other benefits.

Managing FMLA: Florida

Between the federal and state requirements surrounding leave, it’s easy to see how managing FMLA in Florida could quickly become a costly administrative burden on employers and HR representatives. Fortunately, there’s a solution: Qcera is a software tool specifically designed to help companies manage employee leave effectively while saving both time and money. Qcera is easy to use and can make managing even the most complicated leave policies effortless. So, whether you’re a private employer in the state of Florida or a state organization, you can customize Qcera software to fit your needs. You’ll be able to take advantage of LeaveSource Enterprise, a tool that combines federal and employer leave policies into one place and administrates compliance for you. If you’re a Florida state employer, LeaveSource will be especially helpful: it has the capability of tracking pay benefits during the employee’s leave period, therefore saving you a lot of time and paperwork. Then there’s LeaveSource Entrust, an outsourced administrative service that helps employers manage leave in a cost-effective, thorough manner. No matter what type of leave your Florida employees are taking or how complicated the laws and requirements, LeaveSource will make sure everything is taken care of. Managing leave effectively can both save you money and create a more positive and less stressful work environment for you, your Human Resource department, and your employees.