New Wisconsin law grants leave to employees donating bone marrow or organs

by Saul C. Glazer

A new Wisconsin law granting employees leave to donate bone marrow or organs takes effect July 1. It applies to private employers with 50 or more permanent employees as well as to government employers.

The new law allows employees to take up to six weeks of leave to donate organs or bone marrow. The law provides job protections to employees who donate bone marrow or a heart, lung, liver, pancreas, kidney, intestine, or other organ that requires the continuous circulation of blood to remain useful for purposes of transplantation. No more than six weeks of leave may be taken in a 12-month period, and leave may be taken only for the time necessary for the employee to undergo and recover from the donation procedure.

The law requires employees taking leave to donate bone marrow or organs to:

  • Make a reasonable effort to schedule the donation procedure so that it doesn’t unduly disrupt the employer’s operations, subject to approval of the healthcare provider of the person to receive the donation; and
  • Give the employer advance notice of the donation in a reasonable and practical manner.

Employers may require certification from the healthcare provider of the employee or the person receiving the donation that:

  • The recipient has a serious health condition that necessitates a bone marrow or organ transplant.
  • The employee is eligible and has agreed to serve as a bone marrow or organ donor for the recipient.

In addition, employers may require certification of the amount of time expected to be necessary for the employee to recover from the bone marrow or organ donation procedure.

When an employee returns from leave, the employer must immediately place her in a position as follows:

  • If the job the employee held immediately before the bone marrow or organ donation leave began is vacant, she is to be placed in that position.
  • If the job the employee held immediately before the leave began is not vacant, she must be placed in an equivalent position with equal compensation, benefits, shifts, hours of employment, and other terms and conditions of employment.

Employers may not reduce or deny an employment benefit that accrues before or after an employee’s bone marrow or organ donation leave begins because he takes leave. If an employee wishes to return to work before the end of his leave, the employer must place him in a position within a reasonable amount of time not exceeding the duration of the scheduled leave.

More information on the new law will be available in the July issue of Wisconsin Employment Law Letter.

Saul C. Glazer is an editor of Wisconsin Employment Law Letter and an attorney with Axley Brynelson LLP in Madison, Wisconsin. He can be reached at sglazer@axley.com.

About Wisconsin Employment Law Letter:
Excerpted from Wisconsin Employment Law Letter and written by attorneys at the law firm of Axley Brynelson, LLP. WISCONSIN EMPLOYMENT LAW LETTER is intended only to inform, but not to provide legal advice, and recipients should seek professional advice with regard to specific applications of the information. Contact attorneys at Axley Brynelson, LLP.
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