In addition to the leave provided by your employer’s discretionary policies on vacation time, sick leave, personal days, or paid time off (PTO), you may have a legal right to take time off work for specific reasons under federal and Florida laws. For example, if you are caring for an ailing family member or recovering from childbirth, you may have a right to leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Florida law provides additional leave rights, including the right to domestic violence leave, military leave, and time off for jury duty.
This article provides an overview of your right to time off from work in Florida. For more information, see our page on employee leave rights.
The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) gives eligible employees the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year to care for a seriously ill family member (spouse, parent, or child), recuperate from their own serious health conditions, bond with a new child, or 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 suffered or exacerbated a serious illness or injury while serving in the military. (For purposes of this military family leave provision only, employees may take leave to care for a broader set of family members, including siblings, grandparents, and cousins, if they are next of kin to an injured service member.)
The FMLA applies to employers in all states with at least 50 employees. Employees are eligible only if they have worked for the employer for at least 12 months and have worked 1,250 hours in the 12 months before taking leave. (Learn much more about your rights under the FMLA at our Taking Family and Medical Leave page.)
Some states have created laws that provide employees with leave for family and medical reasons. Sometimes these laws overlap with the FMLA and don’t create additional rights. Often, however, state law applies to a wider set of employers, has more relaxed eligibility requirements for employees, or covers a broader set of family members. However, Florida has not passed a state family medical leave law.
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. (Find out all about USERRA in Nolo's article, Taking Military Leave.) Employers may not discriminate against employees based on their military service. And, employees may be fired only for good cause for a period of up to one year after they return from service, even if they would otherwise work at will. (See Employment At Will: What Does It Mean? to learn more.)
The laws of many states extend similar rights to employees who serve in the state’s military, including the right to take time off from work and to be reinstated afterwards. In Florida, employees who are called to state active duty in the Florida National Guard may not be penalized for taking time off work. These employees are entitled to reinstatement when they return from active duty, and they may not be fired without cause for up to one year after they resume work. If a member of the Florida National Guard is receiving COBRA benefits when called to active duty, the time when the employee is covered by TRI-CARE (military health benefits) does not count against that employee’s COBRA entitlement.
Florida law 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 to serve on a jury. Employers may not threaten to fire an employee for serving on a jury or appearing for jury duty.
This time off is unpaid. However, special rules apply to exempt employees. Under federal law, 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.
Although most states also have laws that protect an employee’s right to take time off work to vote, many of which require paid time off, Florida is not among them.
Florida employers with at least 50 employees must give time off to employees who have been employed for at least three months and are victims or domestic or sexual violence (or have a family or household member who is a victim of domestic or sexual violence). Employees are entitled to take up to three days of leave in a 12-month period to:
This time off may be paid or unpaid, at the employer’s discretion.