Is a Nebraska employer required to provide vacation time or sick leave?  Is the employer required to approve an employee’s leave request?  Whether leave is required by law, offered as a “perk” of the job, or requested by an employee, employers need to know what Nebraska law requires and the rules for implementing leave policies. While not exhaustive of all leave types or the rules that pertain to them, this article provides helpful information for Nebraska employers regarding a few of these types of leaves.   

Vacation Time.  Nebraska employers are not required to provide employees with paid or unpaid vacation time.  However, if an employer chooses to provide this benefit, it must comply with the terms of its established policy.  Additionally, under the Nebraska Wage Payment and Collection Act, an employer must pay any earned but unused vacation leave to an employee at the end of the employment relationship.   

Sick Leave and Maternity Leave.  Nebraska law does not require private employers to provide sick leave or maternity leave, whether paid or unpaid; however, it is often offered to employees as an added benefit.  If an employer does provide sick leave and/or maternity leave, it must comply with the policy’s stated terms and provisions. 

Military Family Leave.  Nebraska employers with more than 15 employees must provide unpaid leave to any employee who is the spouse or parent of a person called to military service lasting 179 days or longer.  The leave must be provided for spending time with the military member prior to deployment, or when he or she is home on leave during active duty.  Employers with 15 to 50 employees must provide up to 15 days of leave, while employers with more than 50 employees must provide up to 30 days. 

Jury Duty Leave.  Employers must allow employees time off for jury service without loss of pay or any other form of penalty.  Employers may reduce the employee’s pay by the amount the employee received as compensation by the Court.  It is a Class IV misdemeanor in Nebraska to retaliate against employees for taking jury duty leave.

Adoptive Leave.  If a Nebraska employer permits its employees to take a leave of absence upon the birth of a child, the employer must also offer leave upon the same terms to an adoptive parent following the commencement of the parent-child relationship.  If the employer fails to provide this type of leave, the employee may bring legal action for equitable relief and damages, including attorney’s fees. 

Employers should know that where an overlap exists between Nebraska law and federal law, the employer generally must comply with the law that offers the greatest protection to the employee.  For help with developing leave policies and understanding and complying with Nebraska and federal leave laws, employers are advised to speak with an experienced employment law attorney.