Wisconsin Family And Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

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 Does it Matter that Wisconsin has Family and Medical Leave Laws?

Wisconsin is one of several states that have included family and medical leave provisions within its laws. Though the same issues are addressed, there are distinctions between the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) and Wisconsin laws and requirements. If you have questions about what is and is not allowed, consult an attorney in your jurisdiction for guidance.

Are My Employer and I Covered by Wisconsin’s Laws?

Under the FMLA, if your employer regularly employs 50 or more workers, it is covered by FMLA and Wisconsin law. There is a slight divergence between federal and state laws on the number of hours an employee must have worked in the last 52 weeks. Wisconsin requires at least 1,000 hours worked, whereas the FMLA requires 1,250 hours worked over 12 months.

How Much Leave Can I Take?

Wisconsin has included several provisions in its law concerning family and medical leave, including:

  • In 12 months, an individual may take six weeks off for a birth or adoption;
  • Within 12 months, you may take two weeks off for a serious health condition of a parent, child, spouse, or step-parent;
  • During 12 months, you are allowed to take two weeks off for your own serious health issue;
  • Spouses are not required to share leave (FMLA requires shared leave if spouses work for the same employer); and
  • In 12 months, you cannot take more than eight weeks off in a year for any combination of the above-listed situations.

For people who qualify for leave on birth or adoption under both federal and Wisconsin laws, leave will be blended to run together.

For example, a mother will be able to use two weeks of Wisconsin leave for her own serious medical condition and six weeks of federal leave. She will then be able to take six more weeks under Wisconsin law for the birth of her baby, concurrently using the remaining six weeks of federal leave.

Who May Supply My Health Care?

If you are a resident of Wisconsin, you may seek care from any of the outlined health care providers detailed in the FMLA. The FMLA defines health care providers as doctors of medicine or osteopathy who are authorized to practice medicine or surgery in the state in which they are licensed.

The list of permitted providers has grown, and you may also obtain support and treatment from the following providers:

  • Physician, nurse, chiropractor, dentist, podiatrist, physical therapist, optometrist, psychologist;
  • Certified occupational therapist, occupational therapy assistant, respiratory care practitioner, acupuncturist, social worker, marriage and family therapist, professional counselor, speech-language pathologist or audiologist; and
  • Christian Science practitioner

How Should I Request My Leave?

You should give your employer advance notice of leave whenever feasible. If you are taking a planned leave, you must make a valid and viable effort to schedule any medical treatment or the care of others so as not to disrupt the employer’s schedule. If it is last minute or an emergency, inform your employer as soon as you are able.

What Is the Wisconsin Family And Medical Leave Act (FMLA)?

Family Medical Leave is a benefit available by state law to specific workers. The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides unpaid leave for an employee’s serious health condition, a parent, child, or spouse’s serious health condition, or the birth or adoption of a child. A covered employer has at least 50 permanent workers during at least 6 of the last 12 months. Covered workers have worked for the employer for at least 52 consecutive weeks and 1,000 hours in the prior 52-week period.

The statute of limitations for filing a complaint is 30 days from the date the action was taken, or the date the individual was made aware the action was taken.

What Is a Serious Health Condition?

Under Wisconsin law, a serious health condition is a disabling physical or mental condition, injury, impairment, or illness involving inpatient or outpatient care that needs persisting treatment or supervision by a health care provider.

How Do the Wisconsin and Federal FML Acts Interact? If One Law Is More Advantageous Than the Other, Which One Applies?

An employee may be covered under both laws, but federal law may provide additional protection.

Does the Worker Receive Pay While They Are On Leave?

By default, family medical leave is unpaid. Nevertheless, an employee protected by the Wisconsin Family Medical Leave Act may replace any other paid or unpaid leave proposed by the employer.

Does the Employee’s Health Insurance Continue While They Are On Leave?

The employer must keep the same group health insurance coverage for the employee during the leave before the leave. The same requirements must apply to coverage during the leave before the leave.

If health insurance coverage is furnished, the employer may demand that the worker pay the entire premium for eight weeks of coverage into an interest-bearing escrow account in a financial institution. The employer keeps the account. The employee can pay the premium amount at regular intervals over 12 months or longer. The employer must repay the amount placed in escrow plus interest to the worker when they terminate employment with that employer.

Suppose the employee terminates employment with the employer within 30 days after returning from family or medical leave. In that case, the employer may subtract the employer’s costs for health insurance coverage during the leave from the escrow account.

What Is the 12-Month Period When an Employee’s Leave May Be Taken?

The Wisconsin Family Medical Act works on a calendar year basis, differing from federal leave.

What Occurs If the Employee Is Qualified to Both Wisconsin and Federal Leave?

The Wisconsin and Federal FMLA leaves run together, with the employee permitted to the protection of whichever law mandates a more advantageous duration. If the federal leave stretches beyond the end of the Wisconsin leave, only the terms of the federal FMLA apply to the remaining leave.

Is Placement for Foster Care Covered?

Arrangement for foster care is not covered for family leave unless the arrangement is a precondition to adoption. Nevertheless, a foster parent is allowed to take family leave for the serious medical condition of a foster child.

Suppose an Employee Qualifies for Leave Under One of the Laws. Does the Worker Automatically Qualify for Leave Under the Other Law?

An employee must qualify under federal law to be permitted 12 weeks of leave. The worker must be eligible under Wisconsin law for the Wisconsin leave entitlement. Fulfilling one law’s eligibility conditions does not necessarily suggest the worker has met the conditions of the other. Regardless, an employer may use the lower federal and state prerequisites for purposes of leave administration. In such a case, fulfilling the lower thresholds for federal and Wisconsin leave will result in worker entitlement to such leaves.

Do I Need an Employment Attorney?

Suppose you are in a situation involving family and medical leave in Wisconsin. In that case, you may wish to speak with a Wisconsin employment lawyer in your area. An attorney will advise you of your rights and help ensure you are being treated fairly by your employer. Contact an attorney immediately if you feel you are being discriminated against or punished by your employer.

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