Arkansas Leave Laws


Vacation Leave

In Arkansas, employers are not required to provide employees with vacation benefits, either paid or unpaid. If an employer chooses to provide such benefits, it must comply with the terms of its established policy or employment contract. See St. Edward Mercy Medical Center v. Ellison, 946 S.W.2d 726 (Ark. App., Div. 4 1997); Oil Fields Corp. v. Hess, 53 S.W. 2d 444 (Ark. 1932).

If an employer’s policy or contract provides for payment of accrued or earned vacation upon separation from employment, the employer must comply with the terms of the policy or contract. See St. Edward Mercy Medical Center v. Ellison, 946 S.W.2d 726 (Ark. App., Div. 4 1997); Oil Fields Corp. v. Hess, 53 S.W.2d 444 (Ark. 1932).

If an employer’s policy or contract provides for payment of accrued or earned vacation upon separation from employment, the employer must comply with the terms of the policy or contract. See St. Edward Mercy Medical Center v. Ellison, 946 S.W.2d 726 (Ark. App., Div. 4 1997); Oil Fields Corp. v. Hess, 53 S.W.2d 444 (Ark. 1932).

Neither Arkansas’ Legislature nor its courts have given any significant guidance regarding other potential vacation policy issues. They are silent regarding whether an employer may:

  • establish a policy or enter into a contract denying employees payment for accrued vacation leave upon separation from employment,
  • deny payment for accrued vacation to an employee upon separation from employment if its policy or contract is silent on the matter,
  • require an employee to comply with specific requirements to qualify for payment of vacation leave upon separation from employment, such as giving two weeks notice or being employed as of a specific date of the year,
  • cap the vacation leave an employee may accrue over time,
  • implement a “use-it-or-lose-it” policy requiring employees to use their leave by a set date or lose it.

Although Arkansas’ authorities are silent regarding many vacation policy issues, based on the contractual emphasis Arkansas courts have placed on vacation policies, an employer is likely free to implement the vacation policy of its choosing, including policies that deny or limit payment of accrued vacation upon separation from employment. An employer would be required to comply with the terms of its policy or contract. See St. Edward Mercy Medical Center v. Ellison, 946 S.W.2d 726 (Ark. App., Div. 4 1997); Oil Fields Corp. v. Hess, 53 S.W. 2d 444 (Ark. 1932).


Sick Leave

Arkansas law does not require employers to provide employees with sick leave benefits, either paid or unpaid. If an employer chooses to provide sick leave benefits, it must comply with the terms of its established policy or employment contract. An employer in Arkansas may be required to provide an employee unpaid sick leave in accordance with the Family and Medical Leave Act or other federal laws.


Holiday Leave

Arkansas law does not require private employers to provide employees with either paid or unpaid holiday leave. In Arkansas, a private employer can require an employee to work holidays. A private employer does not have to pay an employee premium pay, such as 1½ times the regular rate, for working on holidays, unless such time worked qualifies the employee for overtime under standard overtime laws. If an employer chooses to provide either paid or unpaid holiday leave, it must comply with the terms of its established policy or employment contract.

State holidays

Visit our Arkansas State Holidays page for a list of holidays recognized and observed by the state of Arkansas as well as information regarding state laws governing holiday leave for public employers and employees.


Jury Duty Leave

An employer is not required to pay an employee any wages for time spent complying with a jury summons or serving on a jury.

An employer may not discharge or otherwise penalize an employee for complying with a jury summons or serving on a jury.

An employer may not require an employee to use annual, vacation, or sick leave for time spent responding to a jury summons or serving on a jury.

AR Statute 16-31-106


Voting Leave

Arkansas law requires an employer to schedule time so each employee has sufficient time to vote on the day of the election. The law does not require an employer to pay an employee for any time off granted to an employee to vote.

An employer that does not comply provide employees sufficient time off to vote can be fined not less than $25.00 nor more than $250.00.

AR Statute 7-1-102


Bereavement Leave

Arkansas law does not require employers to provide employees bereavement leave or leave to attend funerals. Bereavement leave is leave that is taken by an employee due to the death of another individual, usually a close relative. Employers may choose to provide bereavement leave and may be required to comply with any bereavement policy or practice they maintain.


Family Medical Leave

Family medical leave in Arkansas is available through the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), a federal policy all employers in the United States must follow.

Unlike other states, Arkansas does not have state-level policies for employers to consider. If employees require medical leave, it can be through private employer policies or the FMLA.

Private employers in the state can enact individual leave policies. This is where the question, “Is Arkansas an at-will state?” comes into play.

Many employers will provide leave policies that require employees to be currently employed to access these benefits.

When asking, “Is Arkansas an at-will state?” the answer is yes; employers or employees may end employment relationships at any time. This could interfere not only with employer-specific leave but the FMLA as well.

Currently, employees can take medical leave through the federal FMLA. To qualify for this type of leave, employees must meet these specific requirements:

  • Employees must have a 12-month employment history with their employer
  • Employees must have worked 1250 hours the previous year at a minimum
  • Employees must work at a location with 50+ employees within a 75-minute radius

Under the Family Medical Leave Act, employees are eligible for 12 weeks of leave within 12 months. If you care for an ill or injured military family member, this leave gets extended to 26 weeks in 12 months.

However, military-related medical leave is attributed per family member per injury.

With standard leave under the FMLA, the 12 weeks of leave will renew every 12 months. Employees must continue to meet the eligibility criteria to be entitled to this leave renewal.


Parental Leave

Currently, Arkansas labor laws do require employers to provide employees with parental leave. With that said, parents can take leave through the Family Medical Leave Act for bonding leave.

Within the act, parents can receive 12 weeks of leave per 12 months to care for a new child.

It is also possible for private employers to enact their own options for parental leave. For example, state employees are entitled to 12 weeks of parental leave for adopted children.

Companies must follow any policies offered by employers in employment contracts, established policies, or past practice.


Military Leave

Military members in Arkansas are entitled to the same benefits that the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) offers, including:

  • Employees have the right to continue group healthcare benefits for 24 months of their leave
  • Upon return, employees must be reinstated to the exact (or equivalent) previously held position
  • Employees must receive up to five years of unpaid leave for military service (with exceptions)

Like other states, Arkansas does not offer additional leave options to employed military personnel. Any leave that is required falls directly under USERRA.

However, it is important to note employers cannot discriminate against employees for enlisting or serving in military duties.

Additionally, when employees return from their enlistment, employers must provide reasonable accommodations for their employment. Private employers may also establish individual requirements for enlisted employees to follow.


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