In addition to any leave your employer provides for vacation, 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 Nebraska laws. For example, if you are caring for a new child or caring for a family member with a serious health condition, you may have a right to leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Nebraska law provides additional leave rights, including the right to time off for military service, jury duty, and more.
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 bond with a new child, to care for a seriously ill family member (parent, child, or spouse), to recuperate from their own serious health conditions, or to handle certain urgent matters relating to a family member’s military service. Under the FMLA, employers must also give employees up to 26 weeks off to care for a family member who suffers or exacerbates a serious illness or injury while serving in the military. (For purposes of this part of the law 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 50 or more employees. Employees are eligible for FMLA leave if they have worked for the employer for 12 months and have worked 1,250 hours in the 12 months before taking time off. (Find out more at our Taking Family and Medical Leave page.)
Some states have created laws that provide employees with leave for family and medical reasons. Nebraska law provides two additional leave rights: adoption leave and military family leave.
Under Nebraska law, employers must give the same time off to adoptive parents as they provide to biological parents. This provision applies to employees who adopt a child under the age of nine (or 19, in the case of a special needs child), but does not apply to step-parent adoptions or to placement of a foster child.
Nebraska employers with at least 15 employees must allow employees to take military family leave, if their spouse or child is called to military service lasting at least 179 days on orders of the president or governor. Employees may take leave while their family member’s deployment orders are in effect. If the employer has 50 or more employees, it must allow employees to take up to 30 days of leave. Smaller employers (those with 15 to 49 employees) must allow employees to take up to 15 days off.
The Unformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), another federal law, 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. (Find out all 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 Nebraska, employees who are members of the state national guard are entitled to the same protections available under USERRA, including the right to time off and reinstatement, when they are called to state active duty.
Nebraska law also gives employees the right to take time off work, without fear of retaliation, for the civic responsibilities of serving on a jury. Employers may not require employees to work a night shift or evening shift during jury duty, nor may they require employees to use their paid leave (such as vacation or sick time) during jury service. Employees are entitled to receive their normal pay during jury service, less any compensation they receive in jury fees from the court.
Nebraska also requires employers to give employees paid time off to case their ballots in an election. An employer must provide enough time off to give the employee two consecutive hours of time to vote when the polls are open, when combined with nonwork time. The employer may decide when these hours are taken.