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Can employees use HWA leave and other types of leave at the same time?

HWA leave may be used if the employee is on unpaid leave, such as FMLA leave, provided the reason is permissible under the Act. On the other hand, the Act does not obligate an employer to allow an employee to take HWA leave concurrently with other paid leave, a double-dip situation. Remember, if an employer makes other paid leave available to employees beyond what is required by the Act (such as vacation or PTO), that employer may not require an employee to use that other paid leave before taking any available HWA leave.

Are churches that do not recognize domestic partnerships exempt from granting domestic-partnership-related sick leave?

No. The Act does not carve out any religious based exemptions from the Act. Churches, like all employers, are prohibited from discriminating against employees because of race, age, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, childbirth, or condition related to pregnancy or childbirth, physical or mental handicap or serious medical condition, or, if the employer has fifty or more employees, spousal affiliation.  

Under our current attendance policy, using sick leave is considered an unscheduled absence. Several of these absences result in a write-up. Would such a policy be considered retaliatory under the Act?

Under the Act employers are prohibited from counting an employee’s valid use of sick leave in a way that will lead to discipline, discharge, demotion, non-promotion, less favorable scheduling, reduction of hours, suspension, or any other adverse action.

The Act does not require employees to schedule use of sick leave in advance, except when the use of sick leave is foreseeable. In those cases, an employee is required to make a reasonable effort to provide oral or written notice of the need for such sick leave. And the employee must make a reasonable effort to schedule the use of sick leave in a manner that does not unduly disrupt the operations of the employer. When the use of sick leave is not foreseeable, the employee is only required to notify the employer orally or in writing “as soon as practicable.”   

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