Kokua Line

June Watanabe

Family leave law does
not provide for pay

Question: A new family leave law passed last July provides that employers give sick leave for an employee who is caring for a family member who is sick. I don't know in what circumstances it applies. A couple of people I know were not paid when they took off to take care either of a sick child or a husband recovering from surgery. Now they've heard of the bill and are trying to get retroactive pay from a human resource department that doesn't seem to know about the law. All I can think of is that maybe it does not apply when a worker has a specific labor contract that provides otherwise.

Answer: If a labor agreement provides more than what the law calls for, then that agreement would prevail.

Otherwise, the Hawaii Family Leave Law does not necessarily provide for paid leave.

Your friends should contact the state Department of Labor & Industrial Relations' Wage Standards Division -- 586-8777 -- to determine whether their situations meet the requirements for paid leave under the law.

They also can find information by going to the department's Web site,

There apparently is some confusion as to what exactly is contained in the law passed by the state Legislature last year and which took effect on July 1.

Act 44 amended the existing Hawaii Family Leave Law (Hawaii Revised Statutes, Chapter 398) to require certain employers to allow qualified employees to use accrued and available sick leave to deal with certain family situations, namely the birth or adoption of the employee's child, or to care for a child, parent, spouse or reciprocal beneficiary with a serious health condition.

Affected employers, including the state and counties, are those that have at least 100 employees and that already provide sick-leave benefits.

Qualified employees have to have worked at least six consecutive months.

The use of PAID sick leave for family leave is limited to 10 days per year unless a collective-bargaining agreement provides for more, but an employee is entitled to a total of four weeks of family leave during any calendar year.

Family leave can be taken consecutively or intermittently and can be either paid leave, unpaid leave or a combination of the two.

According to the Labor Department, Act 44 does not require employers who do not provide sick leave to create a sick leave plan or to open up a sick leave plan to employees who do not now receive the benefit, such as on-call or part-time employees.

These are the basic points of the Hawaii Family Leave Law. For answers to specific questions or situations, contact the Labor Department.


To the driver of a Dodge Ram truck with the front license plate missing. The reason we weren't merging onto Nimitz Highway at 2:30 p.m. on Jan. 18 was because we were responding to an emergency vehicle. You had no reason to blast your horn at us! Maybe if your windows weren't so darkly tinted, you would have been able to see the ambulance coming down the road! Shame on you. -- Puanani/Kaneohe


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