10 Key Questions about Leave Laws in Florida

July 12th 2024

Navigating leave laws in Florida involves understanding how different types of leave are managed and protected. From mandatory provisions to discretionary policies set by employers, understanding leave laws is crucial to ensure fair treatment in the workplace. This article addresses the 10 key questions about leave laws in Florida.

This Guide Covers

  1. What is a leave of absence in Florida?
  2. How does leave work in Florida?
  3. What are the different types of leave available to Florida employees?
  4. Will I get paid while I am on leave in Florida?
  5. How long is a leave of absence in Florida?
  6. What happens to your benefits while you’re on leave in Florida?
  7. Can unused leave be carried over to the next year in Florida?
  8. Are part-time employees entitled to leave in Florida?
  9. Can you be fired while on leave in Florida?
  10. Can you quit your job while on leave in Florida?

1. What is a leave of absence in Florida?

In Florida, a leave of absence typically refers to a period when an employee is granted time away from work, either with or without pay, for various reasons such as personal health, family responsibilities, or personal reasons. Employers may offer different types of leave, including vacation leave, sick leave, personal leave, or other discretionary leaves, depending on company policies.

Leave is a critical component of employment rights, ensuring that employees can take necessary time off for significant personal and family matters without jeopardizing their job security.

2. How does leave work in Florida?

Employees usually request leave by notifying their employer in advance and providing details such as the dates they intend to be absent and the reason for their leave. The approval and terms of the leave, including whether it is paid or unpaid and whether it guarantees job protection, are usually determined by the employer’s policies or collective bargaining agreements. Employers and employees typically follow established procedures for requesting, approving, and managing leave to ensure clarity and compliance with company guidelines.

3. What are the different types of leave available to Florida employees?

In Florida, employees have access to various types of leave, governed by federal and state laws. Here are the mandatory and non-mandatory types of leave available to Florida employees:

  • Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA): The FMLA allows eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for qualifying family and medical reasons, such as the birth or adoption of a child, caring for a family member with a serious health condition, or dealing with the employee’s own serious health condition.
  • Domestic Violence Leave: Florida law allows employees up to three days of leave in 12 months if they or a family member are victims of domestic violence. Domestic violence leave covers employers with 50 or more employees and is eligible for employees employed for at least three months. An employee can use this leave to obtain medical care, seek legal assistance, secure housing, attend court proceedings, and seek help from a domestic violence shelter or program.
  • Military Service Leave: Military service leave is available to employees who are members of the military reserves or National Guard and are called to active duty or training. Under federal law, such as the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), eligible employees are entitled to leave for military service without losing their jobs. Upon completion of service, they have the right to be reinstated to their previous position with the same pay, benefits, and seniority.
  • Jury Service Leave: Jury service leave allows employees to take time off from work to fulfill their civic duty as jurors when summoned. It ensures that employees cannot be penalized by their employers for attending jury duty and typically mandates that employers continue to pay their employees during their service. This type of leave is essential for upholding the legal system’s integrity by ensuring that individuals can participate in the judicial process without fear of job loss or adverse employment consequences.
  • Emergency Response Leave: Emergency response leave is designed for employees who volunteer as emergency responders to react to urgent situations. It allows them to take time off from work to respond to emergencies such as natural disasters, accidents, or other critical incidents. Emergency response leave policies vary but typically ensure job protection and may include provisions for training and deployment readiness.

In addition to mandatory leaves in Florida, various non-required leaves remain at the employer’s discretion on whether they add these leaves from their company policies:

  • Vacation Leave: Paid time off for employees to use for rest, relaxation, and personal activities.
  • Sick Leave: Paid time off to recover from illness or injury or to care for sick family members.
  • Holiday Leave: Paid time off for specific holidays recognized by the employer.
  • Voting Leave: Allows employees time off to vote in federal, state, or local elections as state law requires.
  • Grief and Bereavement Leave: Provides time off to mourn the loss of a family member or close friend.

In Florida, whether you receive pay while on leave depends largely on the type of leave and your employer’s policies. For example, mandated leaves such as the FMLA, domestic leave, jury duty leave, and military leave are generally unpaid. However, employers may often provide an accrued number of paid hours that employees can use for personal matters. Employees must check their employer’s specific leave policies to understand their entitlements.

5. How long is a leave of absence in Florida?

The length of leave of absence in Florida varies significantly depending on the type of leave and the governing laws or employer policies.

  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA): Up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave within 12 months.
  • Domestic Violence Leave: Up to three days of leave in 12 months.
  • Jury Duty Leave: The length of leave depends on the duration of the jury service. All employees are eligible and employers must grant leave for the full period of jury duty.
  • Military Leave: There is no length of leave set for military leave but the cumulative length of time an individual can be absent from work for military duty and retain employment rights is up to five years.

Duration of other types of leave may depend on employer-provided benefits. Employees should consult their employee handbook or HR department for the duration of employer-provided benefits available to them.

6. What happens to your benefits while you’re on leave in Florida?

While on leave in Florida, benefits continuation depends on the type of leave and employer policies. For FMLA leave, employers are generally required to maintain an employee’s health benefits during the leave period under the same terms as if the employee were actively working. This includes group health insurance coverage. However, the employee may be required to continue paying their portion of the premiums.

For other types of leave and voluntary leave, it is the employer’s discretion to grant the continuation of benefits.

7. Can unused leave be carried over to the next year in Florida?

In Florida, the rules regarding the carryover of unused leave to the next year depend on several factors, including company policy and any applicable employment contracts or collective bargaining agreements. Some employers have the following policies and practices:

  • Use It or Lose It: Some employers may have policies that require employees to use their accrued leave by the end of the year or forfeit it.
  • Accrual Caps: Others may have caps on how much leave can be accrued or carried over at the end of each year.
  • Payout Options: In some cases, employers may offer employees the option to receive a payout for unused leave instead of carrying it over to the next year.

For Florida state employees, annual leave accrual and management depend on their employment classification and hours worked. Annual leave, intended for rest or personal business, requires supervisor approval and must be earned before use. Full-time Career Service employees earn leave based on service length, while SES and SMS employees receive 176 hours annually. Leave is transferable between agencies within 31 days, with caps on carryover amounts and excess leave converting to sick leave; upon leaving state employment, employees may be paid for unused leave up to a specified limit.

8. Are part-time employees entitled to leave in Florida?

In Florida, part-time employees may not be entitled to the same leave benefits as full-time employees unless specified by company policy or a collective bargaining agreement. However, certain federal laws may provide some protections depending on the circumstances, such as:

  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA): To be eligible under FMLA, an employee must have worked for the employer for at least 12 months, worked at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months, and worked at a location where the employer has at least 50 employees within 75 miles. Part-time employees who meet these eligibility criteria are entitled to FMLA leave on a pro-rata basis. This means they are entitled to the same amount of leave as a full-time employee, but it’s calculated based on the number of hours they typically work.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): Part-time employees are eligible for ADA protections if they are considered qualified employees with disabilities and may request reasonable accommodations related to their disability, which could include leave as an accommodation if it does not pose an undue hardship to the employer.

9. Can you be fired while on leave in Florida?

In Florida, whether an employee can be fired while on leave depends on the type of leave and the reason for termination. Under the FMLA, eligible employees are protected from termination due to taking FMLA leave, but they can still be fired for legitimate reasons unrelated to the leave, such as performance issues or company-wide layoffs. Similarly, under the ADA, employees on leave as a reasonable accommodation for a disability are protected from termination due to their disability, but can still be terminated for unrelated reasons.

10. Can you quit your job while on leave in Florida?

Yes, you can resign or quit your job while on leave in Florida. Under the “at-will” employment doctrine, whether an employee is on FMLA leave or other non-mandatory types of leave, they have the right to voluntarily resign from their employment. However, it is advisable to review your employment contract or company policies to understand any notice requirements or implications of your benefits.

Learn more about Florida Labor Laws through our detailed guide.

Important Cautionary Note

This content is provided for informational purposes only. While we make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information presented, we cannot guarantee that it is free of errors or omissions. Users are advised to independently verify any critical information and should not solely rely on the content provided.