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 Missouri 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). Missouri law provides additional leave rights, including the right to time off to vote and to serve on a jury.
This article provides an overview of your right to time off from work in Missouri. 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 their own family and medical leave laws, which provide additional rights. In some states, for example, a family and medical leave law applies to smaller employers, provides for more leave, or gives employees the right to take time off to care for a broader set of family members. Some states also provide leave for other specific purposes, such as to deal with the effects of domestic violence or to attend a child’s school events. However, Missouri 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. (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.)
While 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, Missouri law does not provide these rights. Although Missouri employers may not fire an employee for serving in the state or federal military, threaten the employee’s job, or otherwise interfere with the employee’s service or enlistment in the state organized militia, they are not required to provide leave or reinstatement to employees who serve in the state military.
Missouri law gives employees the right to take time off work, without fear of retaliation, for the civic responsibility of voting. Employees must be allowed to take up to three hours off to vote, unless they have three consecutive hours off work while the polls are open. This time off must be paid, as long as the employee actually votes. Employees must give their employers notice that they will need this time off prior to the date of the election.
Employers must also allow employees to take time off to serve on a jury. Employers may not threaten, coerce, or take any other adverse action against an employee who needs time off to serve on a jury. Employers don’t have to pay employees for this time off, but they also cannot require employees to use their accrued paid leave, such as sick time, vacation days, or paid time off. 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.