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.
Tennessee 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).
Tennessee does have a law regarding maternity leave. Under the law, employers with 100 or more full-time workers at a job location are generally required to grant employees who have been employed full-time for at least 12 consecutive months leave from employment for a period not to exceed 4 months for:
Maternity leave may be with or without pay. Leave may not affect the employees’ right to receive vacation time, sick leave, bonuses, advancement, seniority, length of service credit, benefits, plans or programs for which employees were eligible at the date of their leave, and any other benefits or rights of their employment. However, the employer is not required to provide for the cost of any benefits, plans or programs during the period of leave unless such cost is provided for all employees on leaves of absence.
Employees who give at least 3 months' advance notice of the anticipated start date for maternity leave, the length of leave, and their intention to return to full-time employment after leave, generally must be restored to their previous or similar positions with the same status, pay, length of service credit and seniority, as of the date of their leave. However, employees who are prevented from giving 3 months’ advance notice either because a medical emergency requires that leave begin earlier than anticipated, or because notice of adoption was received less than 3 months in advance, do not forfeit their rights and benefits under the law.
For more information, please see Tennessee Statutes § 4-21-408.
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