New Ohio Law on Military Family Leave- Much Ado about Nothing

Kegler Brown E-mployment Alert

The legislature has recently passed, and we anticipate the governor will soon sign, House Bill 48. The bill grants employees two (2) weeks of unpaid leave in connection with the military service of their spouse, child, or individual for whom they provide care (caregiver). The bill applies to employers who employ 50 or more employees (like the FMLA). The bill also has employee eligibility requirements similar to the FMLA: one year of service with the employer and at least 1,250 hours worked in the 12 months preceding the need for leave. While the act has generated a moderate amount of publicity, it does not represent a significant change in the law and should not drastically impact employers’ policies or practices.

House Bill 48 is largely duplicative. As you are probably aware, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which was passed in 2008 and amended the FMLA, grants eligible employees up to 26 weeks of military family leave. The majority of the leave, which would be covered by House Bill 48, is already mandated by the NDAA’s amendments to the FMLA.

However, one slight difference between the two is the calculation of leave. House Bill 48 grants the leave on a calendar-year basis (2 weeks every January) whereas most employers use a rolling basis for FMLA leave, including military family leave. If you believe an employee has exhausted his or her FMLA military leave allotment, make sure that the employee has also exhausted his or her allotment under House Bill 48 for that calendar year.