This post will guide you through employee leave laws for businesses and workers located in the state of Wisconsin.
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 Wisconsin.
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.
Employers in Wisconsin do not have to provide vacation time (paid or unpaid).
Wisconsin employers are free to enact a Use It or Lose It policy for vacation time, as this is not specifically addressed by Wisconsin law.
Employers in Wisconsin are not required to pay out unused PTO upon separation of employment, as long as they have a clear written policy stating the terms in which earned PTO will be forfeited.
If the employer does not have a policy, or it does not mention any forfeiture terms, then they will be required to pay out any unused fringe benefits (such as PTO) upon separation.
Paid sick leave is not required by law in Wisconsin.
The Wisconsin Family And Medical Leave Act does give eligible employees the right to up to two weeks’ unpaid leave for a serious health condition. This is defined as:
In addition, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) 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.
The following official state holidays are observed in Wisconsin:
|January 1||New Year’s Day|
|3rd Monday in January||Martin Luther King, Jr. Day|
|Last Monday in May||Memorial Day|
|June 19||Juneteenth Day|
|July 4||Independence Day|
|1st Monday in September||Labor Day|
|4th Thursday in November||Thanksgiving Day|
|December 25||Christmas Day|
There is no requirement to allow employees a paid or unpaid day off for 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.
Eligible employees under the Wisconsin FMLA are entitled to 6 weeks of unpaid leave for the birth or adoption of a new child.
The federal FMLA applies on top of this, 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 terms of paternity leave, but fathers have the same right to unpaid, job-protected leave under both the state and federal FMLA.
There is no legal requirement to provide bereavement leave in Wisconsin (paid or unpaid).
Paid leave for jury duty is not required in Wisconsin.
Employers must allow employees the right to take up to three hours of unpaid leave with which to vote.
Employees who are called up to federal active duty for 90 days or more receive full reinstatement rights (benefits, seniority, and wages) upon return.
If an employee serve for a length of time between 30 to 181 days, they may not be dismissed for 180 days after their return, except for a valid reason.
If the employee serves for more than 180 days, they cannot be dismissed for one year after their return, except for a valid reason.
Members of a state National Guard are entitled to unpaid leave when called to active duty.
Civil Air Patrol members, working in a company with more than 11 employees, are entitled to up to 15 days of unpaid leave to participate in emergency service operations.
Federal Law (the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)) applies in Wisconsin, 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 Wisconsin 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.