Wisconsin Leave Laws
In Wisconsin, 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. Wisc. Stat. 109.01(3).
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 Tasker v. Chieftain Wildrice Company, 263 Wis.2d 432, 662 N.W.2d 679 (Ct. App. 2003).
An employer is required to pay accrued vacation to an employee upon separation from employment if its policy or contract requires it.
An employer may cap the amount of vacation leave an employee may accrue over time. See Sinclair v. Hillhaven Corp., 161 Wis.2d 935, 469 N.W.2d 249 (Ct. App. 1991).
An employer may implement a “use-it-or-lose-it” policy requiring employees to use their leave by a set date or lose it, so long as the employee has agreed to the policy in writing. See Sinclair v. Hillhaven Corp., 161 Wis.2d 935, 469 N.W.2d 249 (Ct. App. 1991).
Neither Wisconsin’s Legislature nor its courts have given any significant guidance regarding whether an employer may establish a policy or enter into a contract denying employees payment for accrued vacation leave upon separation from employment regardless of the reason. However, based on the contractual emphasis Wisconsin authorities place on vacation policies, such forfeiture provision are likely lawful, so long as an employee was given sufficient opportunity to use their vacation leave while employed.
Wisconsin authorities are also silent regarding whether an employer may deny payment for accrued vacation to an employee upon separation from employment if its policy or contract is silent on the matter. Due to such benefits qualifying as wages under Wisconsin’s wage payment laws, an employer would likely be required to pay vacation leave to an employee upon separation from employment if the policy did not contain some sort of forfeiture provision. Wisc. Stat. 109.01(3).
Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin may be required to provide an employee sick leave in accordance with Wisconsin’s Family and Medical Leave Act and the federal Family and Medical Leave Act or other federal laws.
Wisconsin law does not require private employers to provide employees with either paid or unpaid holiday leave. In Wisconsin, 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.
Visit our Wisconsin State Holidays page for a list of holidays recognized and observed by the state of Wisconsin 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 time spent responding to a jury summons or serving on a jury.
An employer must grant an employee a leave of absence without loss of time in service for the period of jury service. For the purpose of determining seniority or pay advancement, the status of the employee cannot be considered uninterrupted by the jury service.
An employer many not discharge or take any other adverse employment action against an employer due to the employee’s service as a juror.
Wisconsin law requires an employer to provide an employee up to three (3) hours of time off to vote if the employee request the leave prior to the day of the vote or election. The voting leave does not need to be paid. An employer may dictate when an employee takes voting leave. Wisconsin Stat. 6.76
Wisconsin law does not require employers to provide employee bereavement leave. Bereavement leave is leave that is taken by an employee due to the death of another individual, usually a close relative. Employer may choose to provide bereavement leave and may be required to comply with any bereavement policy or practice it maintains.