Does your employer give you vacation, sick leave, or paid time off (PTO)? These policies are discretionary in Oklahoma, meaning that your employer doesn’t have to offer these types of paid time off. However, you may have the legal right to take leave from work under federal and Oklahoma state law. For example, if you are unable to work due to a serious health condition, or you need to care for a family member who was injured on active military duty, you may be entitled to take time off under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Although Oklahoma does not have a state family and medical leave law, it does require employers to give employees time off for military service and other responsibilities.
Your rights to take job leave in Oklahoma are explained below. 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 bond with a new child, to care for a seriously ill family member (a parent, spouse, or child), to recuperate from their own serious health conditions, or take care of certain practical matters (called “exigencies”) arising from a family member’s military service. Employers must also give employees up to 26 weeks off in a single 12-month period to take care of a family member who has suffered or exacerbated a serious illness or injury during military service. (Employees may take military family leave to care for a broader range of family members, including grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, and cousins, if they are next of kin to an injured service member.)
Employers must comply with the FMLA only if they have 50 or more employees. To qualify for FMLA leave, an employee must have worked for the employer for 12 months and have worked at least 1,250 hours in the 12 months before taking leave. Employees may continue their employer-provided health benefits while on leave, and they must be reinstated when their FMLA leave is over. (Find out more about the FMLA at our Taking Family and Medical Leave page.)
While some states have separate family and medical leave laws that require employers to provide more or different types of leave, Oklahoma does not. Employees in Oklahoma are protected only by the federal FMLA.
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. Employees who take USERRA leave may be fired only for good cause for one year after they return from service. Employers may not discriminate 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 Oklahoma, employees who are members of the state national guard and are called to active state duty or full-time national guard duty are entitled to the same leave and reinstatement rights guaranteed by USERRA. Members of the state national guard are also entitled to take time off to attend instruction, exercises, drills, encampment, maneuvers, ceremonies, or other duties.
Oklahoma 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 may not take any adverse job action against them on the basis of jury duty. Employees cannot be required to use their sick, vacation, or annual leave during jury service.
Jury duty leave 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.
Oklahoma employers must also give employees paid time off to vote, unless the employee starts work at least three hours after the polls open or gets off work at least three hours before they close. Employers must give employees up to two hours of paid time to cast their ballots, unless the employee needs more time, based on the location of the employee’s home and the polling place. The employer may decide when the employee takes time off and may rearrange employee schedules to give employees enough off-duty time to vote.