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 Ohio 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). Ohio requires employers to give employees time off for military family leave, military service, voting, and jury duty.
This article provides an overview of your right to time off from work in Ohio. 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 state laws provide additional family and medical leave rights. For example, some state laws apply to smaller employers, provide for more leave, or allow employees to take leave for a wider set of family members than the FMLA. Some states also give leave for other purposes, such as time off to handle the effects of domestic violence, to recover from pregnancy and childbirth, to attend a child’s parent-teacher conferences and other school events, and so on.
While Ohio doesn’t provide these types of leave, it does require employers to provide military family leave. Employers with at least 50 employees must allow employees to take time off to care for a family member who:
Employees are eligible for this type of leave if they have worked for the employer for at least 12 consecutive months and have worked at least 1,250 hours in the last 12 months. They may take leave to care for a parent, spouse, child, or person for whom the employee is a legal guardian. Employees are entitled to take up to ten work days off, or up to 80 hours, whichever is less.
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 Ohio, employees who are members of the Ohio organized militia or National Guard called for active duty or training are entitled to the same rights guaranteed under USERRA, including time off work and reinstatement when they return from service. The same rights extend to employees who are members of the commissioned public health service corps and members of any other uniformed service called up in time of war or emergency.
Ohio law also gives employees the right to take time off work, without fear of retaliation, for the civic responsibilities of voting and serving on a jury. Employers must give employees “reasonable time” off, with pay, to cast their ballots.
Employers must also allow employees to take time off to serve on a jury. Employees must give reasonable notice that they will need time off for jury duty. They may not be required to use their sick leave, PTO, or vacation days for this time off.
Time off to serve in a jury 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.