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Wisconsin PTO in 2024: Complying with State Laws

Employee benefits include equal pay for equal work and the opportunity to take time off for various personal and family-related reasons without fearing the loss of their job or facing disciplinary action. 

That’s why Wisconsin PTO laws protect employees’ rights to take time off when they need it. As an employer, it is important to frame company leave policies guided by federal and state regulations, ensuring employees have access to the necessary leave when needed. This Wisconsin PTO payout laws guide covers different aspects, such as maternity and paternity leave, sick leave, vacation leave, military leave, voting leave, jury duty leave, bereavement leave, and more.

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides eligible employees in Wisconsin with unpaid, job-protected leave for specific family and medical reasons. All employers in the state must adhere to the guidelines of FMLA, promising employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in 12 months for any of the following reasons:

  • The birth and care of a newborn child
  • Adoption or foster care placement of a child
  • Medical care for an immediate family member (spouse, child, or parent) suffering from a serious health condition
  • Employee’s serious health condition leaving them incapable of performing their duties 

An eligible employee for FMLA benefits meets the following criteria: 

  • Working with the current employee for at least 12 months 
  • Worked at least 1250 hours in the last 12 months 
  • Works at a location where 50 or more employees work within 75 miles radius 

There are certain leaves covered under FMLA, this includes: 

Maternity and Paternity Leave

Under the FMLA, new parents can take unpaid maternity or paternity leave for up to 12 weeks to care for their newborn child. The act ensures that both mothers and fathers can take time off within 12 months of the child’s birth to care for and bond with the child. 

Pregnancy Discrimination Act and Pregnancy Disability Act

To further protect the rights of pregnant employees, the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) prohibits any discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. The Pregnancy Disability Act also provides the same rights to pregnant employees unable to perform their duties due to pregnancy as other disability acts. Both these acts require employers to treat pregnant employees fairly and entitle them to reasonable accommodations if needed during pregnancy.

Child Care Leave

Under FMLA, parents can take leave for adoption or foster care placement. This leave is intended to help families transition during these important life events, ensuring that employees do not have to choose between their jobs and family. Child care leave is unpaid. Child care leave entitled employees: 

  • To take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for child care 
  • Use unpaid time off for attending to the requirements of child including medical care, school obligations, etc.
  • Six weeks of leave within 16 weeks before or after the birth or adoption

Family Illness Leave

The family illness leave provision of FMLA entitles all employees within the state of Wisconsin to take up to 12 weeks of FMLA leave to care for an immediate family member (spouse, child, or parent) who suffers from a serious health condition. Employees cannot use family illness leave for their medical care.

In addition to the FMLA, Wisconsin state law allows employees to take up to two weeks per year to attend to the serious health condition of a parent (including parents-in-law), child, or spouse.

Paid Time Off in Wisconsin

There are no state laws on Paid time off (PTO) in Wisconsin, and policies regarding PTO are generally governed by employer policies. However, many employers offer PTO as a benefit to attract and retain employees.

Wisconsin has no law that mandates employers to allow accrual of PTO. However, if employers decide to allow accrual of paid time off, they must mention how employees earn leave based on the time they work. For example, an employee might earn one day of PTO for every month worked. Additionally, in Wisconsin use-it-or-lose-it” policy is not prohibited, giving employers the right to prohibit the rollover of accrued, unused PTO. 

Sick Leave

In Wisconsin, all employers are required to abide by the FMLA federal provisions and provide eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid sick leave. Under FMLA, employees can use sick to: 

  • Take care of their serious medical condition 
  • Birth or adoption of a child 
  • Care for a family member suffering from a serious medical condition 

In addition to the federal FMLA, the state also has the Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave Act (WFMLA) governing employee sick leave. The WFMLA applies to all employers with 50 or more employees. 

The WFMLA provides eligible employees with unpaid leave for:

  • Up to two weeks of leave for an employee’s serious health condition
  • Up to two weeks of leave to care for a parent, child, or spouse with a serious health condition
  • Up to six weeks of leave for the birth or adoption of a child

Bone Marrow and Organ Donation Leave

The Bone Marrow and organ donation leave act states that employees who are donating bone marrow or an organ can take “no more than six weeks of leave in 12 months” to “undergo the bone marrow or organ donation procedure and to recover from the procedure.”

Employers can ask for written verification from employees to ensure that they have bone marrow or organ donation scheduled before they approve time off. 

Vacation Leave

Vacation leave in Wisconsin is not mandated by state law, meaning employers are not required to provide paid or unpaid vacation. However, if the employers offer vacation leave as a benefit, they must mention it in the employee handbooks and employment contracts. The policy should also cover whether this leave is paid or unpaid. Employees can hold employers accountable for providing paid/unpaid vacation leave if it is included in their work contract. 

Military Leave

Wisconsin has federal and state laws regarding military leave that employers must adhere to. The federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) is applicable throughout the state. It provides protections for employees serving in the military for up to five years to take time off for military service. 

Under USERRA, employees who leave for military service have the right to continue their employer-based health insurance for themselves and their families for up to 24 months. They are also entitled to immediate reinstatement of their health insurance upon reemployment.

Wisconsin’s state military leave law applies to only permanent state employees called into active service. According to Wis. Stat. § 230.08, the law applies when an eligible state employee is called “into active service in the armed forces of the United States or is requested to work for the federal government during a national emergency or a limited national emergency.” The active service period cannot be more than 4 years, and employees should be reinstated within 180 days after relief from service. 

Voting Leave in Wisconsin

Wisconsin law requires employers to grant employees up to three hours of unpaid leave to vote in an election. However, employers must request vote leave in advance, and the employer may choose the time of day the leave is taken. 

Jury Duty Leave

Wisconsin mandates that all employers provide employees selected for jury duty enough time off to participate in their civil duty. Employees who are summoned for jury duty are protected by state law from adverse employment actions. Employers cannot discharge or threaten to discharge an employee for taking time off to serve as a juror. 

Employers are not required to pay for jury duty leave. However, some employers pay for jury duty leave to encourage employees. The court compensates jurors in Wisconsin for their service at a rate of $16 a day.

Bereavement Leave

Bereavement leave in Wisconsin is not mandated by law. Employers have full discretion to decide to offer bereavement leave as a benefit. However, most employers provide bereavement leave to allow their employees to take time off after the death of a loved one, typically a close family member. Most companies in the state offer up to 3 consecutive days off for bereavement. 

Civil Air Patrol Leave

Wisconsin law allows employees who are members of the Civil Air Patrol to take unpaid leave for up to 15 days per year to participate in Civil Air Patrol missions. However, members cannot take more than 5 consecutive days off. Civil air patrol leave is for emergency missions only and can be approved if it does not unduly disrupt the company’s operations. 

Employers are prohibited from firing or disciplining employees for taking this leave.

PTO Payout on Termination in Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, the payout of accrued, unused vacation time upon termination of employment depends on the employer’s policies in the absence of any federal or state provision. If employers allow the payout of accrued, unused vacation time in company policy or any employment agreement, the employer must honor this agreement. Conversely, if the employer’s policy explicitly states that unused vacation time will not be paid out upon termination, the employer is not obligated to provide such a payout.

When an employee is terminated or leaves voluntarily, Wisconsin employers must provide the employee’s final paycheck by the next regular payday or within 31 days, whichever is earlier.

How can Truein help with Paid time off management?

Managing paid time off can be challenging for employers, especially when dealing with different types of leave and employee requests. Truein offers solutions for PTO management by automating and streamlining processes.

Truein is a cloud-based, mobile-based time and attendance management solution that offers robust paid time off features to help overcome challenges. One of the key challenges in PTO management is tracking leave accruals and usage accurately. Truein simplifies this process by automatically calculating and updating leave balances for employees based on their work hours or other employer-defined criteria. You can track all types of leave, including vacation, sick leave, maternity leave, and other types of PTO, from a centralized dashboard. Employees can easily submit leave requests online through Truein, eliminating the need for paper forms or email chains. This streamlined process improves efficiency and reduces the risk of miscommunication or lost requests.

With over 70 customizable leave policies, this tool allows employers to set up policies that comply with federal and state labor laws, including FMLA, WFMLA, and other regulations. Furthermore, with comprehensive reporting on PTO usage, accruals, and balances, employers can identify potential issues and make informed decisions about staffing and leave policies.

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Complying with federal and state PTO laws is essential for Wisconsin employers. As an employer, you are responsible for providing employees with maternity and paternity leave, sick leave, vacation leave, military leave, voting leave, jury duty leave, bereavement leave, and more. Understanding these laws is crucial to ensuring compliance and encouraging the work environment.

Employers can benefit from cloud-based solutions like Truein to manage PTO, ensuring accurate tracking, automated accruals, streamlined approvals, and legal compliance. 

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