Iowa Leave Laws

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

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 Iowa.

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, Iowa included. Employers are free to decide whether to offer vacation time as a benefit or not.

Are Use It or Lose It Polices Legal in Iowa?

Iowa law does not specifically address Use It or Lose It, meaning these policies are free for Iowan employers to enforce.

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 Iowa

Unused PTO or sick time is not required to be paid out upon employment separation in Iowa. Separation includes when an employee voluntarily quits, is fired, retires or is laid off.

If the employee’s contract promises that PTO will be paid out upon separation, this must be followed by the employer.

Sick Leave in Iowa

There is no requirement to provide paid or unpaid sick leave in Iowa.

Besides any state laws or provisions written into employment contracts, employers in Iowa 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.

Iowa State Holidays

The following official state holidays are observed in Iowa:

January 1New Year’s Day
3rd Monday in JanuaryMartin Luther King, Jr Day
Last Monday in MayMemorial Day
July 4Independence Day
1st Monday in SeptemberLabor Day
November 11Veterans Day
4th Thursday in NovemberThanksgiving
Day after ThanksgivingThanksgiving Friday
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.

There is no requirement to allow employees a paid or unpaid day off for Iowa state holidays, and employees required to work on state holidays are not legally entitled to extra compensation (such as higher pay or a compensatory day off), unless promised in their employment contract.

Maternity Leave in Iowa

There is no state requirement for maternity leave in Iowa, though the FMLA does apply entitling new mothers to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for the birth of a new child, as well as the placement of a new adoption or foster.

In addition, companies in Iowa with four or more employees are required to provide Pregnancy Disability Leave to employees, covering up to eight weeks of unpaid leave for temporary disabilities related to pregnancy and childbirth. This is not required, however, if the employee has other types of leave available, such as sick leave or disability leave.

Paternity Leave in Iowa

Paternity leave is not covered by law either, but fathers have the same right to unpaid, job-protected leave of up to 12 weeks for the birth of their child, or a new adoption or fostered child.

Bereavement Leave in Iowa

There is no legal requirement to provide bereavement leave in Iowa. Iowan employers are free to decide whether or not to provide this type of leave, and whether or not this leave shall be paid or unpaid.

Other Leave Types

Jury Duty Leave

Employees must be allowed to attend a jury summons and/or serve on a jury without being discharged, disciplined, coerced or threatened. However, leave for jury duty is not required to be paid.

Voting Leave

Iowa law entitles employees to paid leave enough to allow them three consecutive hours of nonworking time to vote.

Military Leave

Federal Law (the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)) applies in Iowa, 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 Iowa 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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