Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), eligible employees are entitled to take 12 weeks of leave each year for certain qualifying reasons. Since FMLA is a federal law, Ohio employers have the same responsibilities as employers in other states to provide unpaid, job-protected leave for employees who meet the eligibility requirements.
Employees may be eligible to take leave under FMLA in Ohio if they have a seriously ill family member, a newborn child, or a serious health condition. Military family members may also be eligible for additional protections under Ohio state law if they take leave immediately before or after a family member’s deployment.
Here’s what employers and employees should know about FMLA in Ohio, as well as a few scenarios that may be covered by other leave laws.
FMLA in Ohio Explained
The Family and Medical Leave Act was passed in 1993, and applies to employees in all 50 states, from New York to California. Some states have passed additional regulations, such as paid family leave, but Ohio isn’t one of them. FMLA is the primary employment law covering leaves of absence in Ohio. Here are some of the situations it covers:
- The birth of a child
- The adoption of a child
- The arrival of a child into foster care
- A qualifying exigency arising from active duty military service
- An employee’s own serious injury or medical condition
- The serious illness of an immediate family member
What benefits do employees get under FMLA in Ohio? Although FMLA leave is unpaid leave, employees are entitled to keep their health insurance, and they must be allowed to return to the same job or an equivalent position when they return to work.
Both full-time and part-time employees can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave, which is calculated over a single 12-month period rather than the calendar year. Employees don’t have to take their full leave entitlement all at once, but they need approval from their employer to take intermittent leave unless it’s medically necessary.
Employees can take up to 26 weeks of Military Caregiver Leave to care for a covered servicemember or veteran who was injured in the course of duty. The servicemember must be the employee’s spouse, parent, child, or other next of kin.
Who Is a Covered Employer Under FMLA in Ohio?
Not all employees are covered by FMLA in Ohio. To be eligible, they need to work for a “covered employer” as defined by the U.S. Department of Labor at DOL.gov:
- Any government agency (at the federal, state, or local level)
- Any public or private school (elementary or secondary)
- Public-sector employers with at least 50 employees
If an employer has fewer than 50 employees, they may be subject to other employment laws that guarantee leave for specific medical reasons, such as the Ohio Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.
And of course, some companies may choose to offer their own benefits, such as paid sick leave or vacation time, that go above and beyond FMLA rights and benefits.
Who Is a Covered Employee Under FMLA in Ohio?
In addition to working for a covered employer, employees will need to meet a few more eligibility requirements in order to qualify for FMLA in Ohio. These include:
- At least 12 months of employment with the same employer
- At least 1,250 hours of work during the previous 12 months
- At least 50 employees working within 75 miles of their location
This has several implications. First, since the 12 months of employment don’t need to be consecutive, temporary and seasonal employees may be eligible if they’ve put in enough hours over the course of multiple years.
On the other hand, the “50 employees within 75 miles” requirement may rule out some full-time employees if they work from home or at a branch with fewer employees.
Alternatives to FMLA in Ohio
Aside from FMLA, Ohio doesn’t have any family and medical leave programs that apply to all workers. However, there are a few special cases worth mentioning here.
Military Family Leave
The Family and Medical Leave Act covers Military Caregiver Leave as well as qualifying exigencies related to active duty military service. The state of Ohio also makes specific provisions for military family leave in cases when other available leave has run out.
This type of leave covers the deployment of a family member in the U.S. Armed Forces or the Ohio militia, as well as commissioned members of the public health service. An employee can take up to 10 days or 80 hours of leave during the period running from two weeks before to one week after the family member’s deployment.
The Family and Medical Leave Act provides up to 12 workweeks of parental leave after the birth or adoption of a child, but it doesn’t cover the period of pregnancy itself unless there are medical complications.
If an employee’s pregnancy isn’t covered under FMLA in Ohio, they may have recourse under the Ohio Civil Rights Act or the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which prohibit an employer from terminating an employee due to pregnancy.
Some state employees also have the right to paid parental leave, which provides up to 6 weeks of leave in total and 4 weeks of paid leave (after a 2-week waiting period).
Organ Donor Leave
Ohio also provides a significant amount of paid leave for organ donors, but this benefit is only available to state employees. Eligible employees can take up to 240 hours per year for donating an organ, or up to 56 hours for donating bone marrow.
Understanding FMLA in Ohio
As an employer, it’s your responsibility to ensure that you adhere to state and federal employment laws. In fact, when an employee requests a leave of absence, they may not even be aware that they qualify for FMLA. It’s up to your HR department to track leave of absence requests and place them into the appropriate category.
If the employee anticipates their need to take a leave of absence, such as parental leave following the birth of a child, they’re required to give 30 days notice. In cases of unforeseen medical necessity, the notice period can be shorter, but the employer can ask them to provide a medical certificate from their health care provider.
If multiple leave policies apply, then they usually run concurrently with FMLA rather than back-to-back. For example, if an employee wants to draw from their accrued sick days while on FMLA leave, these days may still be counted toward their FMLA total.
Use Pulpstream to Streamline FMLA Leave
Navigating FMLA in Ohio can be challenging, and mistakes can have a big impact on employers and their employees alike. By using Pulpstream as your leave of absence management solution, you can simplify the process for everyone involved. Employees can self-service their leave requests and upload supporting documents to an online portal, while your HR team can track leave balances from a central location.
Plus, Pulpstream’s drag-and-drop interface means you can customize your workflows without having to write a single line of code. You can also use Pulpstream to handle other HR tasks, such as incident management, claims management, and audits.
Request a demo today to learn more!