Arkansas Leave Laws

This post will guide you through employee leave laws for businesses and workers located in the state of Arkansas.

Follow this guide to understand employers’ obligations for vacation time, paid time off (PTO), sick leave, parental leave, bereavement and more, along with state holidays observed in Arkansas.

This page is intended for reference purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please see official government sources or consult a legal professional for actual legal advice.

No federal or state laws in the USA require employers to provide paid or unpaid vacation time.

It’s up to employers’ discretion whether to offer employees vacation time. However, if written into an employee’s contract or company policy, the company is legally required to comply with the terms of the contract/policy.

Are Use It or Lose It Polices Legal in Arkansas?

Use It or Lose It policies are not addressed in Arkansas leave laws, so there is nothing prohibiting companies from voiding any unused PTO (vacation or sick time) at the end of the year.

Use It or Lose It leave policies mean that any leave not used at the end of the year is forfeited, and not carried over to the following year. Learn more about Use It or Lose It policies here.

PTO Payout Laws in Arkansas

Arkansas state laws don’t require employers to pay out any unused vacation time, sick time or other forms of PTO upon employment separation (such as when an employee quits, is fired or is laid off).

If the company promises in company policies/employment contracts that unused PTO will be paid out upon separation, they must comply with this.

Sick Leave in Arkansas

There is no requirement in Arkansas state law to provide sick leave for employees, either paid or unpaid.

Besides any state laws or provisions written into employment contracts, employers in Arkansas must comply with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which entitles eligible employees the right to take 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for serious health conditions, or to care for spouses, children or parents with a serious health condition.

Arkansas State Holidays

Arkansas observes the following state holidays:

January 1New Year’s Day
3rd Monday in JanuaryMartin Luther King, Jr & Robert E. Lee’s Birthday
3rd Monday in FebruaryGeorge Washington & Daisy Gatson Bates Day
Last Monday in MayNational Memorial Day
July 4Independence Day
1st Monday in SeptemberLabor Day
November 11Veterans Day
4th Thursday in NovemberThanksgiving
December 24Christmas Eve
December 25Christmas Day
Any holidays that fall on a Saturday are observed on the previous Friday, while any holidays that fall on a Sunday are observed on the following Monday.

Arkansas state law does not require private companies to give employees a paid or unpaid day off for state holidays, and if an employee works on a state holiday, there’s no requirement that they earn any compensation above their regular rate of pay.

Government employees in Arkansas are entitled to a paid day off, or 150% pay if they work on a state holiday.

Maternity Leave in Arkansas

There is currently no state law covering maternity leave in Arkansas. Eligible employees are entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave under the FMLA for the birth of a new child, or for newly adopted or fostered children.

Paternity Leave in Arkansas

Paternity leave is also not covered by Arkansas state laws, but the FMLA applies to fathers too, giving them the same right to 12 weeks of unpaid and job-protected leave for their newly birthed or adopted child.

Bereavement Leave in Arkansas

There is no state law in Arkansas requiring employers to offer bereavement leave, paid or unpaid.

Other Leave Types

Jury Duty Leave

Arkansas does not require paid leave for jury duty.

Employers must allow employees to take time off for jury duty, and may not discharge or penalize an employee in any way for serving jury duty. They must also not require employees to take their own PTO (e.g. vacation time, sick leave or personal days) for time spent on jury duty.

Voting Leave

Arkansas law does not require employers to provide paid leave for employees to vote in elections, but they must provide sufficient time to allow employees to vote on election day.

Military Leave

Federal Law (the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)) applies in Arkansas, which states that military service members receive up to five years of unpaid leave for military service, and upon returning, must be reinstated to the same position (or an equivalent position) as they had before their leave.

Anything not covered in Arkansas state leave laws is up to the discretion of the employer, such as whether or not to provide paid sick leave or PTO, or whether PTO rolls over from year to year.

However, if any benefits are laid out in an employee’s contract or company policy, employers must comply with what has been agreed in that document.

For example, if an employee’s contract states that they are to receive 12 days of PTO each year, the employer is legally required to provide this, even though paid time off is not required by state law.

Official Resources

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