Hawaii’s Family Leave Law; What Employers Need to Know

Hawaii Family Leave Law correlates to FMLA
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Overview of The Hawaii Family Leave Law

The Hawaii Family Leave Law (HFLL) has two main provisions. First, employers who provide sick leave or other paid time off to allow up to 10 days to be used for family leave purposes.

Next, the law also requires large employers to provide family leave of up to 4 weeks to employees.

The Family Leave Law applies to large employers, those with 100 or more employees. The leave can be paid or unpaid, which depends on the amount of paid leave the employer offers. Employees can choose to use up to 10 days of paid leave available for family leave purposes.

There are a number of differences between the Hawaiian Family Leave Law and The Federal Family Medical Leave Act. There are more differences between the HFLL and the Hawaiian Temporary Disability Insurance Program.

This article will provide an overview of the Hawaii Family Leave Law as well as provide key differences between these other two laws as a guide for Human Resource Professionals, business owners, and Payroll Managers.

Eligible Employees

The HFLL covers all employees who are employed at a large employer. Employees must be maintained on payroll and include full time, temporary, part time, on-call, casual, and intermittent employees. Employees must have performed work for the employer for at least 6 consecutive months. There are no minimum number of hours that the employee must have worked to be eligible. Employees already on paid or unpaid leave are also included for the benefit.

Excluded Employees

The HFLL exempts several employees, including Federal Government employees. Additionally, employees who have been laid off, even temporarily, are also excluded. Lastly, employees of Hawaiian companies who work on the mainland are also excluded from the family leave benefits. The law applies only to employees in Hawaii.

Family Leave Law’s affects on Employers

The paid leave portion of the Hawaii Family Leave Law affects only employers who already offer paid leave. Employers who don’t offer 10 days of paid leave aren’t required to increase paid leave benefits to the 10 days of leave that must be allowed for family leave uses. Further, employers are not required to implement a paid leave program. If employers don’t offer paid leave to certain employees such as temporary or part time employees, then employers are not required to expand paid leave to include workers who aren’t eligible under the employer’s plan.

Unpaid family leave must be offered to employees of large employers. However, the employee can choose to use other types of paid leave for all or part of the 4 weeks of family leave. This option is only available when the employee has other leave available.

Allowed Family Leave Uses

Employees are allowed to use Family leave for the birth of a child, the adoption of a child, to care for the employees reciprocal beneficiary, or family member with a serious health condition.

In order for a health condition to be considered a serious health condition, it must either require inpatient care at a hospital, hospice, or residential health care facility or require continuous treatment or supervision by a health care provider.

  • Adoption or Birth of a Child
  • Serious Health Condition of a Family Member.

FMLA allows for Military Family Leave if a family member needs care and is a member of the Armed Forces, National Guard or Reserves and is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy. HFLL does not have this provision.

Several bills are proposed for the 2017 legislature sessions that would expand the allowable uses for family leave to include the death of a family member and would also expand the family relationships allowed for family leave to include siblings.

Family Relationships Allowed through the Law

Hawaii Family Leave Law allows employees to use family leave for their children, spouse, and parents.

Children are defined as any biological, adopted, foster, stepchild or legal ward of the employee. For family leave purposes, it does not matter the age of the child, employees are able to take off time for any child.

Parents include biological, adopted, foster, step parent or legal guardian. It also includes parent in laws, grandparents, and grandparent in laws.

The family relationships allowed through the HFLL are more broad than those allowed under FMLA. Therefore employees who use leave for certain relationships under HFLL may retain additional leave through FMLA.

FMLA restricts leave for children under 18 years of age, or who are unable to care for themselves. Additionally it doesn’t allow for parent in laws or grandparent relationships for the purposes of FMLA.  

  • Child: biological, adopted, step, foster, legal ward
  • Parent: biological, adopted, step, foster, legal guardian and parent-in-law
  • Grandparents, including parent in law.
  • Spouse or reciprocal beneficiary

4 weeks leave is based on the calendar year, but the qualifying 6 months for the employee is based on the previous 12 month period.

Determining Employer Size

Employers whose employee size fluctuates can determine if they fall under the 100 employee rule by reviewing the number of employees employed during the previous year. If the employer had 100 or more employees for 20 or more weeks during the previous year, then the employer is included in the Hawaii Family Leave Law.

Notification Requirements & Documentation of Leave Taken,

Employee are required to provide reasonable notification to employers. Notification can be oral or written. Employees must be reinstated to the same or equal position upon returning from leave. The leave can be intermittent and once over, employees must be reinstated to the same or similar position.

Employers can require certification that HFLL is take in accordance with the law. Certifications can include a certification by a health care provider, an adoption agency, or a placement certification by foster care.

Hawaii Family Leave Law, Correlating it to the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act

There are several key differences between HFLL and the Federal FMLA. In addition to the relationships allowed and some key uses, HFLL provides 4 weeks of leave while FMLA provides 12 weeks of leave. HFLL also allows leave to be taken intermittently after the birth of adoption of a child, while FMLA does not without an employer’s permission.

Additionally, if a husband and wife work for the same employer, FMLA provides a combined total of 12 weeks of unpaid leave while HFLL provides 4 weeks of leave to each spouse.

HFLL applies to all employers with 100 or more employees while FMLA applies to employers with 50 or more employees.  

Next, while HFLL doesn’t require benefits to be maintained during HFLL, FMLA does require that health benefits and insurance be maintained during the leave.

Employees who take leave to care for family relationships of parent-in-laws, siblings, grandparents and other specific relationships would be able to use 4 weeks of HFLL, but would not use FMLA leave at the same time. These employees would still be eligable for the full leave under FMLA.

In another example, employees who use FMLA for their own serious health condition would not simultaneously use the Hawaii Family Leave. Upon returning to work, these employees would still ahve 4 weeks of leave access for HFLL purposes. This means that employees could access up to 16 weeks of year under both Hawaii and Federal law.

Hawaii Family Leave Law and Temporary Disability Insurance Program.

The Temporary Disability Insurance Program (TDI) is designed for employees who suffer from a short term illness or injury that keeps them from work. Therefore, the benefits provided by employers under the TDI do not fall under the HFLL. However, if an employer offers additional sick leave days that are in addition to TDI leave days, then that sick leave would be covered under the Hawaii Family Leave Law.

Let SwipeClock Help

Businesses who have employees in Hawaii, as well as a growing list of other cities and states may have to comply with multiple conflicting City ordinances defining Paid leave accrual and usage laws.

Additionally, these businesses have to also comply with Federal Overtime Laws, the Family Leave Medical Act and any other national or local laws that are enacted. SwipeClock provides a comprehensive array of workforce management and time tracking tools that can help businesses to more easily stay in compliance with local and national laws.

Records are effortlessly kept for years and accrual is automatically tracked and reported to employees according to the state and city laws. Additionally, with geo-timekeeping clocks, businesses can effortlessly track time worked in specific cities to ensure compliance.


Q&A for Family Leave Act

HFLL and FMLA comparison Chart

Written by Annemaria Duran. Last updated April 10, 2017

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