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Requiring Employees on FMLA to Use PTO

12/19/2018 | HRWS

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows for employers to take time off to care for family during medical emergencies. But is it that easy? Not necessarily. Under this law, employers can require the employees to utilize their remaining PTO time while they are on FMLA leave, which is unpaid. In general, FMLA is unpaid leave, unless the employer offers benefits such as a short-term disability policy or if the leave is based on a Workers Compensation injury or illness where the Workers Compensation policy provides income replacement.

So, if an employee goes on FMLA and is also able to have wages replaced through, for example, a short-term disability policy, they are being paid. This means that during the time where the employee is receiving payments through the short-term disability policy, they cannot be required to use paid time off. However, the employee may elect to use paid time off to supplement the short-term disability income. In most cases, short term disability policies are written to only reimburse a certain portion of an employee’s weekly income. The employee may choose to supplement the disability income with, for example, paid sick leave. Most short-term disability policies also have a waiting period where benefits are not received. During this waiting period, an employee can be required to use any paid time off available to them as this time would be considered unpaid time off.

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