Bone Marrow and Organ Donor Leave Coming to Wisconsin Workplaces July 1, 2016

On April 1, 2016, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed Senate Bill 517 into law. This bill requires covered Wisconsin employers (in other words, employers who employ 50+ employees in Wisconsin) to provide leave to their employees for the purpose of donating bone marrow or an organ.

Under this new law, eligible employees are entitled to receive up to 6 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave in a 12-month period for the purpose of donating bone marrow or an organ. To be eligible for this leave, an employee must:

  1. have been employed by the same employer for more than 52 consecutive weeks and
  2. have worked for the employer for at least 1,000 hours during the preceding 52-week period.

Employees requesting this leave must provide their employers with advance notice of the bone marrow or organ donation and must make a reasonable effort to schedule the donation so that it does not “unduly disrupt the operations of the employer.”

In addition, employers may require that an employee provide medical certification that contains the following information:

  1. That the donee has a serious health condition that necessitates a bone marrow or organ transplant.
  2. That the employee is eligible and has agreed to serve as a bone marrow or organ donor for the donee.
  3. The amount of time expected to be necessary for the employee to recover from the bone marrow or organ donation procedure.

The right to take donor leave is in addition to an employee’s right to take leave under the FMLA laws (in other words, this leave does not run concurrently with Wisconsin FMLA or federal FMLA). In addition, employers must maintain an employee’s group health insurance benefits during the approved donor leave if the employee had coverage under the plan immediately before the leave.

Finally, Wisconsin employers will be required to post a poster conspicuously in the workplace informing employees of their rights to donor leave. This poster has not yet been released but will be issued by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development. Once the poster is available, we will advise employers.

The new law goes into effect on July 1, 2016. Wisconsin employers should prepare for the new leave by updating their handbooks and obtaining and posting the required poster when it becomes available.