Many employers provide vacation time, sick leave, personal days, or paid time off (PTO). In addition to these policies, which are discretionary in Arkansas, you might also have the right to take leave from your job for reasons specified under federal and Arkansas laws. For example, if you are caring for a seriously ill family member or recovering from childbirth, you may be legally entitled to take time off under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Although Arkansas does not have its own family and medical leave law, it does require employers to give employees time off for military service, jury duty, and voting.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that requires larger employers to give eligible employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year to bond with a new child, to care for a seriously ill family member (a spouse, parent, or child), to recuperate from their own serious health conditions, or to handle certain practical matters arising from a family member’s military service. The FMLA also requires employers to give employees up to 26 weeks off to care for a family member who suffers or exacerbates a serious illness or injury during military service. (For purposes of this military family leave provision only, employees may take leave to care for a broader set of family members, including grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, and cousins, if they are next of kin to an injured service member.)
Employers in all states must comply with the FMLA if they have at least 50 employees. Employees are eligible for leave only if they have worked for the employer for 12 months and have worked 1,250 hours in the 12 months before taking leave. (Find out more at our Taking Family and Medical Leave page.)
Some state laws require employers to provide more or different types of family and medical leave. However, Arkansas does not offer any additional family or medical leave rights beyond what the federal FMLA allows.
Another federal law, the Unformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), gives eligible employees the right to be reinstated to their jobs after taking up to five years off for service in the U.S. military. These employees may be fired only for good cause for a period of up to one year after they return from service. USERRA also prohibits employers from discriminating against employees based on their military service. (Learn more about USERRA in Taking Military Leave.)
The laws of many states extend similar rights to employees who serve in the state’s military (such as the militia) or are called to state active duty. In Arkansas, employees who are members of the guard, reserves, or militia of Arkansas or any other state have the same leave and reinstatement rights granted under USERRA.
Arkansas law also gives employees the right to take time off work, without fear of retaliation, for the civic responsibility of serving on a jury. Employers must allow employees to take time off for jury service, and they may not require them to use vacation or sick leave for this purpose.
Time off for jury duty is unpaid. Under federal law, however, employers typically cannot deduct an exempt, salaried employee’s pay for time spent serving on a jury, unless the employee did no work for the entire week. (For more information, see our article on pay docking.)
Many states also require employers to give employees a small amount of time off, usually paid, to case their ballots in an election. Arkansas law does not require employers to give a particular amount of time off, but employers must arrange employee schedules on election day to allow them time to vote. If time off work is required, it may be unpaid.