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Can a small employer deny leave to an employee whose spouse is seriously ill?

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in FMLA Guidelines,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training,Office Management,Payroll Management

Q. One of our full-time employees took time off when her husband had a heart attack. We’re a small company with 30 employees. Management was very upset and wouldn’t let her take any paid time off and wouldn’t guarantee her position. She had accumulated several weeks of paid leave. Is it legal to keep her from taking paid time off to care for her husband?

A. Because you have fewer than 50 employees, the employee is not entitled to leave under the FMLA, meaning she must rely on paid leave.

Whether she is able to use paid time off, however, depends on what your policies provide. Do employees need management approval to take time off? Are employees restricted to taking only a certain number of paid days at a time?

Also, how has management responded to other employees who have requested leave? She should be treated consistently.

Be aware that, if her husband has a disability, the company cannot discriminate against her based on her “association” with a disabled person. That means you cannot treat her any differently than you treated other employees who requested paid time off for a comparable period of time.

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