Iowa Leave Laws


Vacation Leave

In Iowa, 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. IA Statute 91A.2(7)(b).

An employer may lawfully establish a policy or enter into a contract denying employees payment for accrued vacation leave upon separation from employment. See Iowa Division of Labor Wage FAQs.

An employer may also lawfully establish a policy or enter into a contract disqualifying employees from payment of accrued vacation upon separation from employment if they fail to comply with specific requirements, such as giving two-weeks notice or being employed as of a specific date of the year. See Iowa Division of Labor Wage FAQs.

An employer is required to pay accrued vacation to an employee upon separation from employment if its policy or contract requires it. See IA Statute 91A.2(7)(b).

An employer is not required to pay accrued vacation leave upon separation from employment if the employer’s established policy or employment contract is silent on the matter. See Iowa Division of Labor Wage FAQs.

An employer may cap the amount of vacation leave an employee may accrue over time. See Iowa Division of Labor Wage FAQs.

An employer may implement a “use-it-or-lose-it” policy requiring employees to use their leave by a set date or lose it. See Iowa Division of Labor Wage FAQs.


Sick Leave

Iowa law does not require employers to provide employees with sick leave benefits, either paid or unpaid. IA Div. of Labor FAQs. An employer in Iowa 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

Iowa law does not require private employers to provide employees, exempt for Veterans Day for employees who are veterans, with either paid or unpaid holiday leave. IA Div. of Labor FAQs In Iowa, 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.

Employers are required to allow employees who are veterans to take time off on Veterans Day. Employers may chose whether the time off will be paid or unpaid and must notify the eligible employees within ten (10) of Veterans Day whether the time will be paid or unpaid.

Employers may require employees to provide at least one (1) month’s prior written notice of their intent to take time off on Veterans Day. Employers may also require employees, before they may take time off on Veterans Day, to provide a federal certificate of release or discharge from active duty or a similar federal document.

If an employer is unable to provide time off for Veterans Day to all employees because of the impact on its operation, the employer may limit the number of employees who can take time off to the number the employer needs to protect public health and safety or to maintain minimum operational capacity.

IA Statute 91A.5A

State holidays

Visit our Iowa State Holidays page for a list of holidays recognized and observed by the state of Iowa 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 for responding to a jury summons or serving on a jury unless the employer has a policy or practice of doing so. Iowa Workforce Dev. FAQ

An employer may not discharge, penalize, threaten, or otherwise coerce an employee who receives and/or responds to a jury summons or who serves on a jury. IA Statute 607A.45


Voting Leave

Iowa law requires employers to provide employees with paid leave sufficient to ensure that an employee has three (3) consecutive hours when combined with nonworking time, within which to vote while polls are open. To be eligible for paid voting leave, the employee must request the leave in writing prior to the day of the election or vote. IA Statute 49.109


Bereavement Leave

Iowa 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.


Pregnancy Disability Leave

Any business in Iowa with a minimum of four employees is obligated to give them leave for a disability-related to childbirth, pregnancy, or related conditions. However, if the employee has other time off, sick leave, or disability leave, the employer is not obligated to provide this pregnancy disability leave to its employees.


Federal Family and Medical Leave Act

Under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), all employees in Iowa are given up to 12 weeks off for various family- and medical-related reasons.

If a business has a minimum of 50 employees for 20 weeks in the previous or current year, they are obligated to adhere to this federal act.

A worker is eligible for this t leave if they have worked at the same place for at least 12 months if they have worked for at least 1,250 hours during the last 12 months, and if they have worked at the same business that has a minimum of 50 employees within a 75-mile area.

Under the FMLA, workers have the right to take time off for various reasons. This includes:

  • Recovering from a serious health condition
  • Taking care of a member of the family who has a severe health condition
  • Bonding with or caring for a new child
  • Taking care of emergencies that arise from a family member’s military service
  • Taking care of a member of the family who suffered a severe injury during military service.

Workers in Iowa may receive up to three months of leave within one year for the above reasons. As long as the worker meets eligibility requirements from one year to another, this leave will renew every year.

However, workers taking time off for a military caregiver leave are entitled to 26 weeks of leave in one year. Unless this family member is re-injured or a different family member suffers a serious injury during military service, a worker may not take extra leave for this purpose.

Under the FMLA, all workers have the right to continue paying into and receiving their health insurance at the same cost they pay while working. While this type of leave is not paid, some workers may be required or allowed to use accumulated paid leave. Following this leave, the worker has the right to be reinstated into the same or an equivalent position.


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