- Eligible Employees
- Covered Employers
- Sick and Safe Leave Accrual
- Permitted Uses
- Sick and Safe Leave Use Requirements and Limits
- Payment for Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Upon Separation from Employment
- Alternative Eligible Leave Policies
- Employee Notice of Use Requirements
- Employer Notice to Employees Requirements
- Discrimination and Retaliation
To be eligible for the benefits of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), an employee must fall under all of these categories:
- Legally and officially employed in the company for the past 12 months
- Must have worked at least 1,250 hours during those 12 months
- At least 50 employees of the company are within a 75-mile radius from the company’s work location
The FMLA leave may be used in co-existence with the employee’s accrued paid sick leave if the company offers it. Some private employers would even require their employees to use their paid sick leave during their FMLA leave.
Under the Florida Sick Leave Law, state employees may use paid sick leaves upon accruing the necessary work hours to be eligible.
Unfortunately, the current provisions of the Florida Sick Leave Law do not require private employers or businesses to provide their employees with paid sick leaves. Making it even more regrettable for Florida employees, the Sunshine State has banned local governments and cities from procuring their sick leave policies since 2013.
However, this policy does not prohibit a private business from providing its employees with paid sick leaves as an attractive benefit. If a company or business decides to provide employees with paid sick leaves, one of the requirements for employers is to grant the leaves. They should also include the established policy in their handbooks.
On the other hand, government employees or those who work in the public sector may access paid sick leaves under certain federal laws.
Additionally, any company, business, or employer with at least 50 employees must comply with the regulations under the FMLA. Public agencies and elementary to secondary school employees may also use the FMLA.
Sick and Safe Leave Accrual
The extent of the paid sick leave period and its benefits under the Florida Sick Leave Law are affected by the different categories of employees.
First, you must determine whether you are a full-time or part-time employee. Additionally, whether you are a Career Service, Selected Exempt Service, or a Senior Management Service salaried employee will also affect the sick leave period.
Career Service Employees
Career service employees who work full-time may earn up to four hours of paid leave every two weeks. This provision is enforced if they receive their salary on a bi-weekly basis. The rule is different for a salaried employee who receives their salary on a monthly basis. Such an employee may earn a sick leave period of up to eight hours and 40 minutes each month.
Part-time employees will earn their leave credits depending on the total number of hours they worked for each day. This rule applies to those who do not complete the entire period of eight hours of work each day.
SES and SMS Employees
On the other hand, SES and SMS government employees earn a total of 104 hours of sick time or leave credits upon appointment. An additional period of 104 hours is earned again after 12 months since the first day of employment.
You may check this employee guide for the list of positions under the SES and SMS employees.
On the other hand, there are two durations of unpaid FMLA leave, depending on what the employee will use it for. The basic duration is a maximum of 12 weeks within a 12-month period. Conversely, using the FMLA leave for military-related purposes allows the employee to take a maximum of 26 weeks of unpaid leave.
Eligible employees of the state may exercise their right to use the paid sick leave for any of the following purposes:
- Birth giving
- Access to medical care
On the other hand, several reasons qualify the employee to use the FMLA leave. Here’s a quick overview of them:
- Serious health condition
- Provision of care to a family member with a serious health condition
- Bonding with a new child, whether through birth, foster care placement, or adoption
- Qualifying military-related needs
- Provision of care to a family member in the military who suffered an injury while on active duty
Remember that the FMLA leave does not include the common cold and other minor illnesses. The minor illness, sickness, or the flu should persist for more than three days and render the patient incapable of conducting regular daily tasks. Only then will they be qualified for the FMLA leave.
To qualify for a leave in such situations, the patient should seek medical attention. The reason behind this rule is that the FMLA requires employees to submit various forms that document the patient’s condition.
Serious Health Condition
A serious health condition may be defined as any of the following:
- The patient (employee or family member) needs to seek treatment or medical care in a hospital, a residential care facility, or a hospice.
- The patient’s condition prevents them from going to school, working, or conducting regular physical activities for more than three days. This should include the care of a medical professional.
- The patient is incapacitated because of epilepsy, asthma, diabetes, or other chronic health conditions.
- The patient is incapacitated because of pregnancy.
- The employee needs to provide prenatal care.
- The patient suffers from a chronic illness where treatment is ineffective. This includes Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, and other terminal illnesses.
- The patient needs to undergo chemotherapy, physical therapy, dialysis, and other forms of treatment wherein the employee will be away from work for more than three days.
Sick and Safe Leave Use Requirements and Limits
There is no limit to the number of leave credits government employees can accrue. Additionally, full-time or part-time employees may still use their accrued leave credits even if they move to a different agency.
Payment for Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Upon Separation from Employment
Government employees with a period of employment of at least ten years will receive 25% of their paid sick leave credits. This provision is part of the payout policy of the state, no matter what the level of service is.
Alternative Eligible Leave Policies
Here are the other leave policies in the state of Florida:
Families First Coronavirus Response Act
On April 2, 2020, a federal law passed in the Sunshine State required employers with less than 500 employees to provide paid sick leaves. This rule is under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). This provision allowed employees to seek medical advice or treatment for COVID-19 symptoms and other COVID-19-related reasons. However, the effective period of the law expired on December 31, 2020.
Florida Domestic Violence Leave
There is another law in Florida called the Florida Domestic Violence Leave. This law requires private employers with more than 50 employees to provide a three-day leave to employees who are victims of sexual or domestic violence.
An employee is eligible to use this leave for the following qualifications:
- Seeking medical counseling or care
- Seeking services of organizations related to domestic violence
- Upgrading the security of their home
- Seeking legal assistance
Employees who suffer from domestic violence are encouraged to report the matter to the company’s HR department and the local government.
Employee Notice of Use Requirements
When taking the FMLA leave, you need to present a number of forms for documentation purposes. Depending on what you will use the FMLA leave for, you might have to be familiar with any or all of the following forms:
Health Care Provider Certification Form – Employee (WH-380-E)
You will need to fill this form out if you will use the FMLA leave for personal concerns such as a serious health condition. Basically, it’s a doctor’s note indicating your qualification for using the FMLA leave. The majority of the form is to be filled out by your physician or a medical professional.
Health Care Provider Certification Form – Family Member (WH-380-F)
Use this form if you are using the FMLA leave to take care of a family member with a serious health condition. It’s basically the same as the WH-380-E, except that it’s for a family member. Nonetheless, a large portion of this form should also be filled out by a medical professional or a physician.
Employer Notice to Employees Requirements
The FMLA law requires all employers to provide their employees with a general notice regarding their rights to access it. Additionally, employees who require leave must also be provided with further notices that allow them to understand their rights to use the FMLA leave.
The employer must also be able to provide the employee with the WH-381 form.
Notice of Eligibility and Rights & Responsibility Form (WH-381)
When you request to take the FMLA leave, your employer must provide you with the WH-381. This form indicates whether or not the employee is eligible for the leave. Your employer is mainly the one to fill this form out.
Additionally, your employer must notify you if there are benefits under the FMLA you are eligible for and whether or not you need additional documentation.
Discrimination and Retaliation
When an employee’s FMLA leave ends, they must be reinstated to the same position they had before taking the leave. Suppose the employee cannot perform their duty, for instance, because of a physical disability acquired before or during the leave. In that case, they must be placed in an equivalent position to the one they had before taking the leave.
An equivalent position should offer the same pay, benefits, and other employment conditions such as location and shift.
It is important to note that employees who take the FMLA leave are protected against termination and other forms of retaliation. That is, of course, if they were able to comply with the legal obligations surrounding the law.This provision means you cannot be fired, demoted, or deducted solely because you exercised your right to the FMLA leave. Furthermore, suppose the reason for taking the FMLA leave is because of an illness or disability that is not under the FMLA qualifications. In that case, you may still argue your case under the Americans with Disabilities Act.