The rules about unpaid leave can be quite confusing, and if you own a small business in Florida, you must understand and adhere to those rules or you’ll inevitably find yourself in legal trouble. An experienced Daytona Beach small business lawyer can help you understand paid leave, wage-and-hour laws, and the other regulations that apply when employees work for you. If you thought unpaid leave was complicated, prepare yourself. Paid family leave may be on the way. In fact, the candidates running for president are already debating the topic.

Sure, we already have the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), but it only requires unpaid leave, it only applies to businesses with fifty or more employees, and it only applies to employees who have worked for twelve months and 1,250 hours in the twelve months preceding the unpaid leave. But the concept of paid leave is making headway and gaining support. President Obama signed an executive order in September requiring federal contractors to allow employees to accrue paid sick leave for specific situations.

California in 2004 enacted the nation’s first mandatory paid family leave program. Employees are paid for up to six weeks when caring for a newborn or a sick loved one. The law is financed through an employee payroll tax, so California’s employers bear no direct costs. California’s employment growth has actually outpaced the U.S. average by two percent since enacting the paid leave law, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. In September, here in Florida, State Senator Dwight Bullard introduced SB 384, the “Paid Family Care Leave Act,” a proposal to give Florida employees six weeks of paid leave to bond with a newborn, foster, or adopted child.

Not everyone is enthusiastic. Even with financing through payroll taxes, paid leave laws saddle small businesses with the cost of temp workers or overtime to cover for absentees, according to Jack Mozloom, spokesman for the National Federation of Independent Business, which opposes mandatory paid leave laws. Here in Florida, small business owners can get the legal advice they need – now and also in the future, if the law changes – by working with an experienced Daytona Beach small business lawyer. If you have any questions or concerns about wage-and-hour laws and paid or unpaid leave – or any other business-related legal matter – make the call as quickly as possible.