Company Holidays and FMLA

During the last couple months, a season with multiple company holidays, we received several calls from members asking how to count Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) time in weeks with company holidays. This is a valid question, because requiring an employee to take more FMLA leave than needed violates FMLA regulations. Whether a holiday should be counted against the employee’s FMLA entitlement depends on whether the leave is “block” or “intermittent.” The following guidance will help employers properly designate FMLA when holidays are involved:

1. If the employee is on block/continuous FMLA leave for an entire week, then the whole week is counted as leave under FMLA. It makes no difference whether there was a company holiday within that week.

2. If the employee is on intermittent leave and a company holiday falls within that week, the holiday is not counted as leave under FMLA, unless the employee was otherwise scheduled and expected to work on the holiday, but could not work that day due to his or her FMLA-qualifying reason (29 CFR 825.200(h)).

Keep in mind that the FMLA regulations address the designation of holidays as FMLA leave but do not directly address holiday pay. Whether the employer pays employees for the holidays during FMLA depends upon the employer’s policies and practices. Employers should ensure they offer benefits (other than group health coverage) to employees on FMLA leave consistently with such benefits offered to employees on non-FMLA leave.