Hawaii Family Leave Law

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The Hawaii Family Leave Law (HFLL) requires employers with at least 100 employees on each working day of 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year to provide up to four weeks of family leave per calendar year. This leave can be used for the birth or adoption of a child or to care for the employee's reciprocal beneficiary, child, spouse, or parent with a serious health condition. Family leave may be unpaid or paid, or a combination of both. An employee or employer may elect to use any of the employee's applicable accrued paid leave such as sick, vacation, personal, or family leave for any part of the four-week period.

Employers who are covered by the HFLL must allow eligible employees to use up to ten days per year of their accrued and available sick leave for any of the purposes listed in the HFLL. However, the HFLL exempts temporary disability benefits from the definition of "sick leave." If an employer establishes a self-insured TDI plan (which must be approved by the Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations) that incorporates sick leave benefits, the benefits provided under its self-insured plan may be used for HFLL purposes only to the extent they exceed the statutory minimum required to comply with the TDI law.

Eligibility

HFLL requires employers to grant leave to any employee who has been employed for six consecutive months.

Serious Health Condition

HFLL requires employers to grant leave for the employee to care for a serious health condition of the employee's child, reciprocal beneficiary, spouse or parent. Under HFLL, a parent includes parents-in-law, grandparents, and grandparents-in-law. 

Health Care Provider

HFLL defines a health care provider as a licensed doctor of medicine, dentistry, chiropractic, osteopathy, naturopathy, psychologists, optometry, and podiatry.

Certifications

HFLL authorizes employers to require certification by a health care provider or an appropriate agency or adoption service for an employee's absence to care for a family member with a serious health condition, or for the birth, adoption, or foster care placement of a child.

Intermittent Leave

HFLL requires an employer to grant intermittent or reduced work schedule leave for all purposes. Under the federal FMLA, intermittent leave is not required for a new child, unless the employer agrees to it. 

Time Period

While federal law entitles married parents who work for the same employer to a combined total of 12 weeks of leave due to childbirth, adoption or foster care placement, Hawaii has no such combined limitation. Therefore, each parent, if both work for the same company, is entitled to a minimum of four weeks of leave to care for a new child. Such leave must be taken within the first year after childbirth, adoption, or placement for foster care.

Employers subject to federal law have the option of choosing any twelve (12) month period for purposes of calculating the employee's 12-week leave entitlement. Employers may choose a calendar year, a fiscal year, or a rolling 12-month period.

State law provides that the four-week leave entitlement is per calendar year. However, an employee is not eligible for any more than four weeks of leave in any 12-month period. 

Notice and Reinstatement

Employers have the right, under federal and state law, to designate any leave as family leave if it otherwise qualifies as protected leave. Most workers' compensation, temporary disability insurance leave, and maternity leave qualify as family leave and may be charged against an employee's leave entitlement. Once the leave is exhausted, other laws may protect employees. For example, state workers' compensation law, the duty of reasonable accommodation under disability law, and the state's sex discrimination law regarding pregnancy leave may protect employees beyond the periods of protection provided by the family leave laws.

HFLL requires employees to provide reasonable notice if the condition for which the leave is needed is foreseeable. No specific form of notice is required. An oral or verbal request for leave giving the employer sufficient information to understand the purpose of the leave is sufficient notice.

HFLL requires that the employee be restored to the same or an equivalent position in all terms and conditions, including shifts and unique conditions of a particular job, at the conclusion of the leave. If leave is considered intermittent during any period of light duty work, the employee is likewise entitled to reinstatement to his or her former position at the conclusion of the light duty.

Neither state nor federal law requires the accrual of additional benefits while an employee is on leave. At the conclusion of the leave, however, employees must be reinstated to all benefit programs, such as life insurance and group disability plans, without any additional waiting period or additional premium.

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