How much leave time for a disability? That depends. . . 

by George Barron

How much leave time must an employer provide for an employee with a disability or medical condition? The answer depends in part on the employer, the job, and the seriousness and duration of the medical condition. There are no easy answers. 

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires covered employers to provide up to twelve (12) weeks of leave to eligible employees. Many employers think that this is the answer to the question, but it is really just the beginning. 

One of the accommodations that an employer may be required to provide under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA) is leave, or time off of work. How much time off?  That depends upon the situation, i.e. how difficult it is for the employer to function without the employee.  Of course, that is different for every workplace and every job.

The ADA/PHRA accommodation may mean that the employer must give an employee more time off that the 12 weeks that the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires.  It may also mean that an employer that is not subject to the FMLA may still be required to provide unpaid leave as an ADA/PHRA accommodation. 

Several court have held that a policy setting a fixed amount of unpaid leave, even if the amount is generous, may violate the ADA and PHRA. The ADA and PHRA require an interactive process between the employer and employee, and employers must evaluate each situation individually.  A policy that fixes the amount of leave for every employee is not “interactive” and does not comply with the ADA and PHRA. 

If you have a question about whether your employer is providing you with the leave or other accommodation that the law requires, call us at 570-824-3088.  

Previous post:

Next post: