Employees Entitled to Whichever Law is More Beneficial
Employees in Wisconsin are covered by both state and federal family and medical leave laws. Each law has slightly different eligibility requirements and provides slightly different protections. Employees should become familiar with both laws, because they are entitled to apply whichever law helps them more. If federal protections are more beneficial than the state provisions, employees are entitled to apply those provisions. Similarly, if state protections are more beneficial than the federal provisions, employees are entitled to apply those provisions instead. Employers cannot chose to follow one law and not the other, they must follow both.
Employers Covered under Wisconsin and Federal Law
Under federal law, employers with 50 or more employees in at least 20 weeks of the current or preceding year are covered.
Under Wisconsin law, employers with 50 or more employees in 6 of the preceding 12 calendar months are covered.
Employees Eligible for leave under Wisconsin and Federal Law
Under federal law, to be eligible for leave, employees who have worked at least 1,250 hours in the preceding 12 months and who have been employeed for at least 12 months at a worksite with 50 or more employees within a 75 mile radius of that worksite.
Under Wisconsin law, to be eligible for leave, employees must have worked for at least 1,000 hours in the prceding 52 weeks and for at least 52 consecutive weeks.
Amount of Leave under Wisconsin and Federal Law
Under the federal law, employees are entitled to 12 weeks during a 12 month period for any covered reason.
Under Wisconsin law, during a 12 month period, employees are entitled to 6 weeks for birth or adoption, 2 weeks for a serious health condition of a parent child or spouse, and up to 2 weeks for an employee's own serious health condition.
Substitution of Paid Leave under Wisconsin and Federal Law
Family and medical leave under both Wisconsin and Federal law is unpaid. Where employees have accrued paid leave, employees may substitute the paid leave for unpaid leave.
Under federal law, an employer may require employees to substitute paid leave for unpaid leave.
Under Wisconsin law, an employer cannot force employees to substitute paid leave for unpaid leave. However, this provision only covers the poritions of leave that are covered under state law. For example, if an employee requires four weeks of leave for their own serious health condition only the first two weeks will be covered under Wisconsin law. After the first two weeks, an employer may require the employee to substitute leave under the federal law.
Other Differences Between Wisconsin and Federal Law
There are numerous other differences beween the Wisconsin and Federal Family and Medical Leave Acts. These are summarized in greater detail in the publication by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development listed below.
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