Wednesday, February 6, 2013

South Carolina Leave Differences From FMLA Laws

Like most states, South Carolina follows the leave provisions outlined in the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), with only a few variations. The federal law states that if federal provisions conflict with those outlined in state laws, employees have the right to mix and match to receive the most generous benefits possible. The following paragraphs illustrate how this state's laws differ from the federal FMLA.

Employers are grouped into two sectors: the Public and Private sector, and the State employers sector.

Employers in the Public and Private Sector that have more than 20 employees may grant paid leave to employees choosing to donate bone marrow. The employer must agree to any leave extending 40 work hours. The federal FMLA, however, does not have any provisions for donating organs.

The federal FMLA does not grant paid sick leave to employees to care for sick immediate family members - only unpaid leave - but it does allow for the substitution of unpaid leave with paid leave. Luckily for state workers, the state leave policies require state employers to provide tjeir employees with 8 paid sick days per year to care for immediate family members, such as their spouse, children, parents, siblings, grandparents, legal guardians and grandchildren.

South Carolina employees are also entitled to 6 weeks of accrued sick leave to care for a child upon adoption, differing from the federal FMLA, which only guarantees unpaid leave.

South Carolina's leave laws include a section on maternity leave, stating that all policies and practices applying to disability must be applied identically to conditions related to pregnancy, miscarriage, childbirth and recovery, and that an employer must make reasonable accommodations for an employee with a disability (which includes those affected by the previously listed conditions related to pregnancy), unless impractical. The federal FMLA only gives 12 workweeks of unpaid leave to employees for the birth and care of a newborn child and does not include as broad a definition of pregnancy as South Carolina's leave laws.

South Carolina's leave laws also have two causes which have no counterpart in the federal FMLA, regarding employees suffering extreme hardships and the ability to donate excess sick days to a state pool. Regarding employee emergencies or extreme hardships - employees may be permitted to use the rest of their annual leave in cases of extreme hardship if they've already exhausted all sick leave and 30 days of accrued annual leave. Employees with more than 15 sick days can also donate their days to a pool for state employees with personal emergencies.

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