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Iowa Leave Law


Public employees in the State of Iowa are protected by a state version of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Below is a brief summary of the state law, which you may notice is very similar to the federal law.

If you are considering taking leave, consult with your Human Resource Office for additional details - preferably with a supervisor so you are more likely to receive accurate information.

Who Is Eligible?

A State employee who has been employed at least 12 months and who has worked at least 1,250 hours during the previous 12-month period.

How Much Leave Am I Entitled To?

An eligible employee may take up to 12 weeks of leave per fiscal year.

When Can I Take Family and Medical Leave?

You may use Family and Medical Leave for:

  • The birth, adoption or foster placement of a son or daughter (biological, adopted, foster, stepchild, legal ward, or child to whom you stand in loco parentis). You must take this leave within 12 months of the birth, adoption or foster placement of the child.
  • The care of a son or daughter under age 18 (or older if incapable of caring for himself or herself due to mental or physical disability) with a serious health condition.
  • The care of a spouse or a parent with a serious health condition.
  • The care of your own serious health condition which makes you incapable of performing any one of the essential functions of your position. (NOTE: Unlike the federal FMLA, an employee taking Family and Medical Leave for their own serious health condition must use up all of their accrued sick leave and vacation leave before unpaid Family and Medical Leave is granted).

Can I Take Leave A Little At A Time?

If you are taking leave for reason #1 (birth, etc.) it is at the discretion of your employer to permit you to do so. However, if you are taking leave for reasons # 2-4 (serious health conditions), your employer must allow you to take leave intermittently so long as it is medically necessary to do so.

What Notice Am I Required to Provide?

When your need for leave is foreseeable, you must submit a written request form within 30 calendar days prior to when your need for leave will begin.

If your need for leave is unforeseeable, you must provide notice within two workdays or as soon as practicable (in this latter situation notice may be given orally or in writing).

Can My Employer Require A Second Medical Opinion?

Yes, if you are taking leave due to your own serious health condition. In that situation, your employer may require a second opinion. If the second opinion differs from the first, your employer may require a third opinion (at the employer's expense). The third opinion will be final and binding.

Can I Use Paid Sick Leave?

Permanent full-time and part-time employees of the State of Iowa (except peace officer employees of the departments of natural resources and of public safety) may use sick leave in connection with their own illness and that of their immediate family. You can use sick leave:

  1. When you are unable to work because of medically related disabilities or physical or mental illness (remember, there are some situations where you must use this leave);
  2. In connection with medically related disabilities caused by pregnancy or recovery from childbirth; and
  3. You may use up to 40 hours of sick leave per fiscal year for the temporary care of your immediate family. This leave shall be granted whenever possible given the staffing needs of the employer.

Will My Health Benefits Continue?

During leave, your employer must continue to pay the state's share of your health, dental, basic life, and long-term disability benefit insurance premiums. However, you must also pay your share of these costs and failure to do so will result in a loss of coverage. If you do lose coverage during your leave period, your coverage must be restored when you return to work.

Will My Job Be Protected?

Upon your return from Family and Medical Leave you must be placed in a position in the same class as your prior position, or in a class with the same pay, pay grade, benefits, terms and conditions of employment, and geographical location. (NOTE  If you have taken leave due to your own serious health condition, your employer may require written certification from a health care provider that you are able to resume work.)

Researched and written by:

Lisa Gerson, Esq. McDermott Will & Emery LLP New York, NY 

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