Ask the Expert: How Does FMLA Work During the Holidays

By Samantha Smitka on Dec 17, 2020
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Samantha Smitka HR Coordinator at Axcet HR Solutions

Complying with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) can be confusing for employers because it’s a complicated law with different types of leave, each with its own set of rules. How to properly administer FMLA leave can be particularly perplexing when that leave falls during the holidays.

In this Ask the Expert, Samantha Smitka, one of Axcet HR Solutions' experienced Human Resources Coordinators, brings us up to speed on what employers need to consider when employees take FMLA leave during the holidays.

Question:  Do holidays count toward an employee’s FMLA leave entitlement?

Answer: The short answer is that it depends on the increments of time for which the employee is taking his or her FMLA leave.

  1. If an employee is taking an entire week of FMLA leave, the fact that any holiday falls during that time has no effect, meaning that the entire week is counted as a week of FMLA leave. However, FMLA leave can be taken in smaller increments than a week at a time. When that happens, the rules apply differently.
  1. If an employee takes less than a full week of leave, or intermittent leave, the holiday is not counted against FMLA unpaid time off unless the employee was scheduled and expected to work on the holiday.
  1. For any business that closes for a week or more over the holidays without any employees being expected to report for work, the days the employer’s operations were inactive do not count against an employee’s leave entitlement. (This is the case not only for holiday shutdowns, but also for any business closing of a week or more.)

holiday party pay

Question:  Are employees who are on FMLA leave entitled to holiday pay?

Answer: Whether or not an employee is entitled to holiday pay when his or her FMLA leave falls on a holiday depends on whether the employer’s policies provide for pay when the employee is on other forms of leave. For example, employers often require that employees work the days right before and right after a holiday to be eligible for holiday pay, but may make an exception for employees who are taking paid vacation or paid time off on one or both of those days. In that case, an employee who arranges to use either or both the day before and the day after a holiday as paid time off/paid vacation – instead of unpaid FMLA leave – would be entitled to be paid for the holiday.


Written by Samantha Smitka

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