How Do Leave Types Work Together?

There are many different types of Leave that can be used when you need extended time off to take care of yourself or your family. These Leave types can differ from employer to employer or state to state, and in many cases can be used together to give you the needed time off, wage replacement and job protection.
 
Employees use the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for underlying job protection for 12 weeks, combined with other benefits available to employees.
 
This might include concurrent Leave types, such as:
 
Some of these Leaves may be required by state law and can work together with an employer’s other Paid Leave programs.
 

Things to Consider

  • Some Leaves may require a waiting period (WP), also known as an elimination period, before your paid benefits can begin. You may be able to get paid during the WP by using available PTO if your employer offers PTO benefits. Waiting periods may vary by state programs.
  • Most Paid Family and Medical Leave programs have a maximum amount of benefits/time available for you to use.
  • Depending on the particular state, if you take Family Leave, and then later in the same year become disabled and take Medical Leave, the duration of benefits payable for Medical Leave may be reduced by the number of weeks previously taken for Family Leave.
Taking Leave may look different for everyone. There are multiple scenarios for why you may need to take a Leave from work, and the specifics of the Leave may vary by situation. See below for example scenarios of how different Leave types are used together in a range of different life events.
 

Welcoming a New Child

Birthing Mother Example

The following example illustrates how a new mother would use a combination of Paid Family and Medical Leave with other Leaves after the birth of her baby.2
 
Starting at Week 1 of Work Absence:
 
  • She takes six weeks of Paid Medical Leave (PML) running alongside her employer’s Short-Term Disability plan to allow her time to rest and recover from childbirth. At this time, she also begins using her FMLA Leave, allowing for unpaid job-protection.
  • Note: An employee may use their allotted PTO, based on their employer’s PTO program, to supplement the unpaid leave waiting period under a Short-term Disability plan. Availability of Short-term Disability plan benefits and PTO benefit coordination varies by employer.
Starting at Week 7:
 
  • After six weeks of recovery, she takes Paid Family Leave (PFL) and her company Paid Parental Leave (PPL) to have paid time off to bond with her newborn.
  • In this scenario, the PPL is offered through her employer and provides two additional weeks of Paid Leave for child bonding after the PFL ends.+
  • She continues taking the available FMLA for the remaining 6 weeks, using the entire 12 weeks of FMLA job-protected leave.
Leave for a Birthing Mother Example
Based on a scenario of the employee not previously out for a medical or family event that required the use of PFML or FMLA benefits within the last 52 weeks.
In this scenario, both PPL and PFL benefits run concurrently. The length of time for PPL may vary depending on an employer’s benefits.
 

Non-Birth Parent Example

For parents who did not give birth to the child or are an adoptive/foster parent, this example illustrates how they would take Leave to bond with their child.
 
Starting at Week 1 of Work Absence:
 
  • They take 12 weeks of Paid Family Leave (PFL) to bond with their new child
  • They take 12 weeks of Paid Parental Leave (PPL) to bond with their new child
    • In this scenario, the PPL is offered through their employer.+
  • Additionally, they also begin using FMLA Leave allowing for 12 weeks of unpaid job-protection.
Leave for Non-Birth Parent Example
Based on a scenario of the employee not previously out for a medical or family event that required the use of PFML or FMLA benefits within the last 52 weeks.
In this scenario, both PPL and PFL benefits run concurrently. The length and covered reasons for PPL may vary depending on an employer’s benefits.
 

Injury or Illness

When the unexpected happens, you are able to take Leave to care for yourself or others.
 

Recovering From a Personal Non-Work Related Illness or Injury Example2

The following example explains how you could take Leave for your own illness or non-work-related injury.
 
  • In this scenario, you use six weeks of your Paid Medical Leave (PML), Short-term Disability Leave and FMLA to recover from an injury.
  • Both the PML and Short-term Disability may include a waiting period, depending on the Paid Leave programs.
Note: Short-term Disability benefits can last up to 26 weeks. But if your illness or injury requires you to be out for several months – 26 weeks or more – you may continue to receive paid benefits through Long-Term Disability (LTD).
 
Leave for Personal Injury or Illness Example
Based on a scenario of the employee not previously out for a medical or family event that required the use of PFML or FMLA benefits within the last 52 weeks.
 

Caring for a Family Member Who Is Ill or Injured Example2

The following example demonstrates a scenario of needing to take a Leave to care for a family member who is ill or injured.
 
In this situation, the Leave is taken intermittently (in separate blocks of time) to account for being a caretaker when the need arises. The medical needs of the family member require the employee to take Intermittent Leave using Paid Family Leave (PFL) and FMLA for full days (8 hours each) spread over the course of three months.
 
Leave time is tracked based on the Leave program requirements.
 
  • The PFL guidelines for qualifying individuals to care for a covered family member or a person of close relationship may vary by state and program. For more information, visit the PFML Resource Center to find specific state PFL program details.
  • Intermittent Leave allows you to take qualifying Leave in smaller and sporadic increments based on the particular circumstances.
Leave for Ill or Injured Family Member
Based on a scenario of the employee not previously out for a medical or family event that required the use of PFML or FMLA benefits within the last 52 weeks.
 

Military Related

Paid Leave can also be taken for family military-related events that require you to take an absence from work. Whether it’s military events, deployment notices or counseling, Paid Leave may be available based on the situation.
 
The following scenario is an example of an employee’s Leave due to a spouse graduating from boot camp in the U.S. Marine Corp. Family activities – such as orientation and informational sessions – are scheduled in the two days leading up to graduation day. The employee plans to take three days of Leave to attend the events and graduation.
 
Two months later, the new Marine is being deployed overseas on short notice. The employee plans to take two days of Leave to arrange childcare.
 
In this example, the employee takes Intermittent Leave available in some Paid Family Leave (PFL) states and FMLA Leave during their time away for these military related events. Each day represents 8 hours away from a 40-hour work week.
 
Leave for Military Reasons
Based on a scenario of the employee not previously out for a medical or family event that required the use of PFML or FMLA benefits within the last 52 weeks.
 

In Summary

Different types of Leave can be used together to help support you in your time of need. They work together, whether concurrently or intermittently, to assist when life happens. Eligibility and leave duration for PFML, PPL, FMLA and Short-term Disability for all employees will depend on their employer and state leave program. Learn more about which states require PFML.
 
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1 Paid Family (PFL) and Paid Medical Leave (PML), also known as Statutory Disability, are required by several states and may be state-paid benefits.
 
2 Please note: WP may be required and benefit duration may vary based on statutory PFML plan. Offsets may apply. Offsets are an amount withheld from certain payable benefits because a claimant receives payable benefits from another source for the same event/period of time. Examples of this could be employer payments under a salary continuation program or certain statutory Paid Leave benefits that claimant receives at the same time as Short-term Disability benefits.
 
These scenarios are fictitious and for illustrative purposes only. Available Leave offerings and durations vary by state and employers. The Welcoming A New Child scenarios are based on an employee using the WA PFML program.
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