The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) generally requires private employers with 50 or more employees to provide eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a 12-month period for certain family and medical reasons. Those reasons include the birth and care of a newborn child or placement of an adopted or foster child with an employee, as well as leave to care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition or when an employee is unable to work because of the employee’s own serious health condition (including incapacity due to pregnancy).
Employees are eligible for federal FMLA leave if they have worked for their employer for at least 12 months, at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months, and work at a location where the company employs 50 or more employees within 75 miles. Employers subject to FMLA are required to maintain group health insurance coverage for an employee on FMLA leave on the same terms as if the employee continued to work. Upon return from FMLA leave, an employee generally must be restored to the employee’s original position or an equivalent position identical to the original in terms of pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions.
Many states also have laws requiring that employers grant certain employees leave from work due to specified family, medical, or other circumstances.
Montana currently has no comprehensive family and medical leave law requiring private employers to provide leave rights greater than those required by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
Montana law does require employers to grant a pregnant employee a reasonable leave of absence for the temporary disabilities associated with childbirth, delivery and related medical conditions. The employer may not place restrictions on the leave which would not apply to leaves of absence for any other valid medical reason. The following provisions apply regarding reasonable maternity leave:
A pregnant employee is entitled to use any disability benefits, sick leave, vacation time, annual leave or compensatory time accrued pursuant to plans maintained by the employer for her maternity leave. If the employer maintains no such plans or benefits, the employee is entitled to maternity leave without pay.
An employee who has signified her intent to return at the end of a reasonable leave of absence for maternity must be reinstated to her original job or to an equivalent position with equivalent pay and accumulated seniority, retirement, fringe benefits and other service credits. The law provides a limited exception to this rule for private employers when the employer's circumstances have changed so much that it is impossible or unreasonable to do so. For example, an employer who has gone out of business while the employee is on maternity leave would not be required to reinstate her.
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