Who Pays for FMLA?

The Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, guarantees workers up to 12 weeks of time off to take care of their own or their family's medical needs. Workers must work for at least 12 months to receive this benefit. Most FMLA is unpaid, although individual employers and some states may have policies allowing employees to receive pay for their FMLA time.

Group Health Insurance

If an employer pays a portion of employee health insurance costs, that employer must continue to pay its share of the health insurance for employees who are on FMLA leave. The employer may not cancel the employee's insurance while he is on FMLA leave, even if the employer intends to reinstate the insurance later. Thus, in this sense, the employer is providing some compensation during the employee's FMLA leave; however, the employer is paying the same insurance expense that it would pay if the employee were at work.

Sick Day Policy

Some employers maintain a policy that if an employee has sick or vacation days available, she must use those days at the beginning of the FMLA leave. If the employee uses sick or vacation days in this manner, in a sense the employee could be said to be paying for her own FMLA leave, as she will not have those days available to use in other circumstances.

Unpaid Leave

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act allows employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. Most states do not offer any paid FMLA, instead tailoring their own FMLA laws to comply with the federal act. Thus, nobody is required to pay for most FMLA leave because the employee does not usually get paid for the days he takes off for FMLA reasons, unless the employee uses sick or vacation days as described above, or the employer's policies include some pay during FMLA leaves.

Family Temporary Disability Leave

Some states, such as California, offer temporary disability benefits for workers who must take an extended leave of absence due to their own or family members' medical conditions. Temporary disability benefits generally come out of state disability insurance policies. Thus, these benefits are paid for with payroll taxes, which come out of the employee's paycheck. In many cases, employees are able to purchase private disability insurance, which may provide benefits during an employee's medical leave and is typically funded through payroll deduction. In either situation, employers typically do not pay for disability leave.