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How Do Holidays Affect FMLA Leave?


The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) dictates that employers with 50 or more employees must give eligible employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for qualifying reasons.

But when FMLA-covered employers vie for top talent, they usually offer prospects paid holidays. Unfortunately, when employees are offered more than one type of paid leave, they’re often more confused than grateful. Be prepared for these common questions.

Do holidays count against the employee’s FMLA leave entitlement?

It depends on the circumstances. The U.S. Department of Labor provides three conditions.

1. When an employee takes a full week of FMLA leave and a holiday occurs during that week, the full week is counted as FMLA leave.

Example: The employee takes FMLA leave from Monday to the following Monday, and Memorial Day (a company holiday) occurs during that week. Since the employee has taken a full week of FMLA leave, the entire week is regarded as FMLA leave.

2. When the employee takes less than a full week of FMLA leave and a holiday occurs during that week, the holiday does not count as FMLA leave except if the employee was scheduled to work on the holiday but took FMLA leave on that day instead.

Example: The employee is on a reduced workweek schedule. They work on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and take FMLA leave on Thursday and Friday. Memorial Day occurs during the reduced schedule, and the employee is not scheduled to work that day. Since Memorial Day does not count as FMLA leave, only Thursday and Friday should be subtracted from the employee’s FMLA leave entitlement.

3. If your business temporarily closes for one or more weeks, during which your employees are not expected to work, the shutdown period does not count as FMLA leave. Further, if your business closes for a partial week, the shutdown days should be treated as though they were holidays — meaning they do not count as FMLA leave.

Are employees on FMLA leave entitled to holiday pay?

An employee on FMLA leave should be treated like an employee on non-FMLA leave. So the real question is whether an employee on non-FMLA leave would receive holiday pay. And that's up to the employer.

This issue is regulated by 29 C.F.R. § 825.209(h), which says, "An employee's entitlement to benefits other than group health benefits during a period of FMLA leave (e.g., holiday pay) is to be determined by the employer's established policy for providing such benefits when the employee is on other forms of leave (paid or unpaid, as appropriate)."

Do holidays impact the hours-of-service requirement?

To be eligible for FMLA leave in most industries, the employee must, among other things, have worked at least 1,250 hours for the employer during the 12 months preceding the leave. Only actual time worked needs to be counted when determining hours of service. You do not need to include time off for vacation or sick leave or holidays in the hours-worked calculation.

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Our firm provides the information in this e-newsletter for general guidance only, and does not constitute the provision of legal advice, tax advice, accounting services, investment advice, or professional consulting of any kind. The information provided herein should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional tax, accounting, legal, or other competent advisers. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult a professional adviser who has been provided with all pertinent facts relevant to your particular situation. The information is provided "as is," with no assurance or guarantee of completeness, accuracy, or timeliness of the information, and without warranty of any kind, express or implied, including but not limited to warranties of performance, merchantability, and fitness for a particular purpose.
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