State and federal law provide Minnesota employees with the right to take leave to provide care for a family member. Understanding the contours of these protections is important before you take leave and even before you speak with your employer about doing so.
Under both state and federal law, your right to take leave to care for a family member only kicks in after certain requirements have been met. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) requires that: (1) the employee has been employed by their employer for at least 12 months; (2) the employee has worked for the employer at least 1,250 hours during the previous 12-month period; and (3) the employee has been employed at a workplace at which the employer has at least 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius. If the employee meets these requirements, then the employee has the right to take up to 12 weeks of leave over a 12-month period to provide care for the employee’s spouse, son, daughter, or parent who has a serious health condition.
The FMLA defines a “serious health condition” as an “illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves (A) inpatient care in a hospital, hospice, or residential medical care facility; or (B) continuing treatment by a health care provider.” Again, unfortunately, what qualifies as “continuing treatment” can be quite complicated. Certain illnesses or ailments, such as the common cold, the flu, routine dental issues, and upset stomach likely won’t qualify, unless the employee’s family member’s symptoms become more severe and continuing treatment is provided by a healthcare professional. The FMLA also ensures 12-weeks of protected leave for the birth, adoption, or foster-care placement of a child. According to parental leave rights Minnesota both parents are eligible for the full 12 weeks, unless they work for the same employer.
Minnesota recently expanded employees’ state rights in this area. While they are similar to the rights granted by federal law in many regards, there are important differences. For example, state law only ensures care for relatives if the employer provides sick leave benefits for the employee’s own illness or injury and state law only guarantees 160 hours of leave to an eligible employee for the care of a relative. On the other hand, state law only requires an employer to have 21 employees to be subject to these protections and the list of relatives an employee can care for under state law is greater – it includes siblings, mothers-in-law, fathers-in-law, grandchildren, grandparents, and step-parents in addition to the relatives identified in the FMLA. Another important addition is that Minnesota provides “safe” leave which allows the employee to use their sick leave benefits to provide assistance to a family member who is the victim of sexual assault, domestic abuse, or stalking.
Both the state and federal leave laws provide great protections for employees, but they are complex and often hard to navigate. If you have questions about these issues, employment discrimination attorney Minnesota would be happy to help.