The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) gives eligible employees the right to take time off work, for specified reasons, if they work for a covered employer. (For information on the employees, employers, and reasons for leave covered by the FMLA, see Who Is Covered Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)?) A number of states have adopted their own family and medical leave laws, and these laws often provide coverage beyond what the FMLA requires.
There are several types of state family and medical leave laws:
About a dozen states have laws that require employers to provide family and medical leave, for reasons similar to the FMLA. However, these laws differ from the FMLA in the following important ways:
Some states give employees the right to take time off for certain reasons relating to a family member's active military duty. The FMLA also requires this type of leave; state laws may go beyond the FMLA by, for example, not putting any limits on the reasons for which an employee can take leave during a family member's deployment. (The FMLA allows employees to take leave only for certain reasons -- called "qualifying exigencies" -- that are spelled out in the law.)
Some states require employers to provide time off for pregnancy disability: the length of time when a women is temporarily unable to work due to pregnancy and childbirth. Typically, these laws don't provide for a set amount of time off per year or per pregnancy. Instead, they require employers to provide either a "reasonable" amount of leave or leave for the period of disability, often with a maximum time limit.
A handful of states require employers to give adoptive parents the same leave they make available to biological parents. Generally, these laws don't require an employer to offer parental leave. However, those that do must make it equally available to adoptive parents.
Some states require employers to give leave for certain family needs, such as attending school functions, taking a child to routine dental or medical appointments, or helping with eldercare.
Some states require employers to allow time off for issues relating to domestic abuse. For example, an employee may be entitled to leave to seek a restraining order, get medical care or counseling, or relocate.