If an employee requires time off to care for an ailing family member in Indiana, they can do so through the Family Medical Leave Act. The FMLA provides 12 weeks of unpaid time off for employees to recover from an illness themselves or assist a family member.
To be eligible for these benefits, applicants must meet specific eligibility criteria. The eligibility requirements for the Family Medical Leave Act include:
- Employees must have worked for their employer for a minimum of 12 months
- Employees must have provided 1,250+ hours of work within a 12-month period
- Employees must work at a location with 50+ staff members within a 75-mile radius
There are many instances when employees may have to take family medical leave. Currently, the policy applies to specific situations, which include:
- Caring for an ill or injured family member
- Caring for an ill or injured military family member
- Recovering from a severe ailment
- Bonding with a new child (biological child, foster child, or adopted child)
The amount of leave employees receive when caring for an ill or injured military family member is different from standard leave offered by a private employer. Traditional sick leave offers 12 weeks of unpaid time off within 12 months. When caring for family members in the military service, leave is extended to 26 weeks within 12 months.
Employees of employers are entitled to access the same benefits through their health insurance policy when taking family medical leave.
Additionally, employees can opt to use any accrued paid time off in place of unpaid sick leave during this period of time. It is possible for employers to require written verification of the condition of employee health from health care providers.
Currently, Indiana sick leave law doesn’t require private employers to offer state-level leave benefits. However, there are federal guidelines they must abide by through the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
Alternatively, employers can choose to create private policies to give their staff sick leave, if needed.
In Indiana, it is the company’s discretion to determine whether to offer unpaid or paid sick leave. Most employers have private policies that employees can use to their advantage. It is important to note employers must notify their eligible employees of the company’s sick leave policies in writing at the time of employment.
Additionally, employers must provide any changes to health condition policies to employees in writing. Said policies must be easily accessible for employees to review at any time.
A covered employer must adhere to the policies described in the employment contract and employee handbooks to avoid legal penalties.
It is the responsibility of employers to review and update their sick-leave policies as needed. If employees find they are unfairly being stripped of unpaid or paid sick leave, they can levy complaints against their employer with the Department of Labor.
Family Member Defined
Unlike private employees, public employees are granted sick leave benefits at the state level along with FMLA leave. Public employees in Indiana are granted leave for legal quarantine, injury, or illness. They can also use this time off to care for an ill or injured immediate family member.
In the Family and Medical Leave Act, immediate family is defined as:
- Parents living with the employee
- Dependents of the employee
It is the right of public employers to request a medical certificate from a physician before granting sick leave. The medical certificate must explain the extent and nature of the illness or disability. It must also contain information regarding the employee’s return to duty.
Sick and Safe Leave Accrual
Another important facet of sick leave for public employees is that sick leave can accrue for part-time and full-time employees. However, hourly, temporary, contract, or per diem employees are not entitled to sick leave accrual.
Indiana does not have any state guidelines that require private employers to offer parental leave to their staff. However, like sick leave, most employers will have parental leave options at their discretion. These leave benefits must be detailed to staff members in writing and reviewed upon hiring.
If your potential employer does not offer parental leave, you could qualify for time off through the FMLA, as per your employee rights. The Family Medical Leave Act grants parents the same benefits as standard sick leave. You will receive 12 weeks of unpaid time off to manage your pregnancy and care for a new child.
Depending on your employer, how you can take parental leave could vary. In many instances, spouses that work for the same employer will have their parental leave split. One spouse will receive a six-week allotment of family leave, while the other will receive six weeks.
FMLA coverage for parental leave also accommodates parents welcoming newly adopted children. It’s important to note that you will continue to have access to your existing healthcare plan during your time off.
Additionally, you could qualify for income support during your leave to assist with maintaining the health of family members.
Employee Protections for Sick Leave
Any individual deciding to take sick leave will have several protections to their employment status awarded to them. Based on labor discrimination laws, employees cannot be threatened or coerced not to take sick leave, regardless of their duties of employment.
Additionally, employers cannot discriminate against staff that exercises their right to take medical leave.
Once an employee has completed their allotment of leave, they must be given the same (or equivalent) position. Employers cannot implement a reduction in pay or hours as a result of the employee taking leave. If the same employment position is not available, the employee must receive an equivalent placement at the same rate of pay.
Employers have the responsibility to notify their employees of any changes to leave policies. They must provide these changes in writing and keep them in an accessible area for all staff members. If an employer partakes in an adverse employment action against company policy, employees can file complaints with the Department of Labor.
Other Sick Leave Laws
There are other important Indiana sick leave laws employers and employees should know. Let’s look at some essential things to consider when taking or granting a specific duration of absences.
- Small Businesses
Small businesses are often exempt from providing employees with a day of absence through the FMLA. Companies require 50+ employees to offer sick leave through federal regulations. It is important to consider looking at your employee handbook to know whether you have leave available through your employer.
- Part-Time Workers
No state requirements require Indiana employers to offer sick leave to part-time workers. This also applies to new hires, as FMLA applicants must have worked for their employer for at least 12 months. You may also be ineligible for benefits after a separation from employment, including accrued vacation time.
- Notice of Leave
It is the responsibility of employees to notify their employer in writing of their intent to take sick leave. Employers can ask for a medical certificate to prove the validity of an employee’s medical condition. That said, employees must notify their employer within a reasonable time frame to receive the leave.
- Employee Leave Pay
It is not required for your potential employer to provide employee premium pay or standard pay for average hours. Medical leave can be paid or unpaid in Indiana at the discretion of an employer. It is important to review these details in your employment benefits package before hiring.