Employers in Texas, like employers in all other states, are subject to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which allows eligible employees to take unpaid leave, with the right to reinstatement, for certain reasons. While many states have their own comprehensive family medical leave laws, Texas does not. However, Texas does have a limited provision requiring equal leave to care for a sick foster child.
Texas employers must comply with the FMLA if they have at least 50 employees for at least 20 weeks in the current or previous year.
Employees may take FMLA leave if:
FMLA leave is available if an employee needs time off to:
Employees in Texas may take up to 12 weeks of leave in a 12-month period for a serious health condition, bonding with a new child, or qualifying exigencies. This leave renews every 12 months, as long as the employee continues to meet the eligibility requirements set out above.
Employees may take up to 26 weeks of leave in a single 12-month period to care for a family member who was injured on active military duty. However, this leave is a per-injury, per-service member entitlement. Unless the same family member is injured again, or another family member suffers an injury while on active duty, an employee may not take an additional leave for this purpose.
Employees are entitled to continue their health insurance while on leave, at the same cost they must pay while working. Although FMLA leave is unpaid, employees may be allowed (or required) to use their accrued paid leave during FMLA leave.
When an employee's FMLA leave ends, the employee is entitled to be reinstated to the same or an equivalent position, with a few exceptions.
Beginning on September 1, 2017, Texas has a limited law aimed at providing equal leave to employees with foster children. Employers with 15 or more employees that offer leave to employees to care for a sick child must also allow leave to care for a sick foster child.
If you think you might need FMLA leave, you should inform your manager and/or HR department right away. Get a copy of the company's FMLA policy and find out what forms you'll need to complete. The FMLA imposes notice and paperwork requirements on both employees and employers, so it's important to act quickly. You can find out more about the FMLA in Nolo's article Taking Family and Medical Leave and Nolo's book, The Essential Guide to Family and Medical Leave, by Lisa Guerin and Deborah C. England.