Expanding Contract-based Family Leave Language

Build on existing rights under federal and state family leave laws and expand them in your collective bargaining agreement.


ArrowStep 1 Include the language of federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in your contract.

The FMLA provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave a year for the birth or adoption of a child, for the employee's own serious illness, or the care of a member of the immediate family (parent, child, spouse) with a serious illness. Learn more about FMLA

Some states have their own versions of the FMLA, and may include additional rights. Find family leave laws in your state

Bargain that the employer must continue to provide medical benefits during the leave, and the employee's job is protected in most situations.


ArrowStep 2 Expand the definition of family for leaves.

Bargain to expand the definition of family for family, sick and bereavement leave to includes siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, domestic partners, aunts, uncles, any person living in the household and a person who stands in the place of a parent for a worker.

Arrow Step 3 Allow employees to use sick leave to care for family members.

Check your state law on sick leave for family care. If your state does have one of these statutes, then bargain to increase the number of sick days an employee can use for family caregiving and include an expanded definition of family.

ArrowStep 4 Expand the group of employees eligible to take family leave.

FMLA only covers employees who have worked at least 1250 hours over the past year for an employer that employs 50 or more employees.

Bargain to expand the number of employees eligible to take family leaves. For instance, some contracts only require employment at 40% of full time (1250 hours a year is generally 50% of full time). Some contracts cover all employees, regardless of time base.


ArrowStep 5 Create a sick/family leave bank that allows employees to donate time to each other.

Bargain for a leave bank in which employees with excess vacation or sick leave can donate it to employees who need to take leave for their own or their family's serious health condition, but have no more paid leave available.

ArrowStep 6 Provide paid family leave.

Check your state laws. Some states allow employees to use a portion of accrued sick leave for family members. Bargain for a provision that provides a specified amount of paid family leave, through the use of sick leave or in addition to available sick leave.

To find sample contract language on Family Leave benefits, search the LEARN WorkFamily database.

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