In the past, granting paid sick leave was at the employer’s discretion in the private sector. While employees are covered for long-term leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), there’s no federal paid sick leave act that requires private employers to pay for short-term sick leave. But now we’re seeing a growing movement of laws being created at the state and municipality levels that are designed to protect employees who might be forced to choose between going to work sick and infecting their co-workers, or calling in sick and potentially losing pay and, in the worst-case scenario, even their jobs. Paid sick leave gives an employee financial peace of mind when they find that they can’t work because either they’re sick or because they need to care for an ill spouse or child.
The Following States Don't Have Sick Leave Laws
- New Hampshire
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- South Caronlina
- West Virginia
Use this resource for an an overview of the states that do have sick leave laws.
Some cities such as Los Angeles have further expanded the definition for family members who are covered under an employer’s sick leave policies: An employee’s child, spouse, registered domestic partner, parent, parent-in-law, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, and any individual related by blood or affinity whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.
Private employers in nearly a dozen states, plus two dozen municipalities across the United States (such as San Francisco and the District of Columbia) are required — or will be required in the next couple of years — to provide some form of paid sick leave to their eligible employees.
If you have a facility in — or with employees in — any state or municipality that has paid sick leave laws, you should be taking every step possible to help ensure you’re in compliance with those laws. Your job is made even more difficult if your company has facilities in multiple locations, making it increasingly complicated to comply with paid sick leave laws in more than one state or city. And the rules vary wildly. For example:
- Seattle requires employers with 1-249 full-time employees (or full-time equivalent) to allow employees to accrue one hour for every 40 hours worked. For employers with 250 or more employees, the hourly requirement drops to 30 per week.
- The city of Long Beach, Calif. lets employees accrue 5/12ths of a day for each full month in a calendar year that the employee has been employed.
- Los Angeles allows employees to carry over sick time subject to a cap of 192 paid hours and 80 unpaid sick leave hours. Employers must also pay out unused accrued paid time above the cap every 30 days.
- In Massachusetts a doctors’ note may be required if an employee’s absence exceeds 24 consecutively scheduled work hours, exceeds three consecutively scheduled workdays, occurs within two weeks of their last date of employment or occurs after four unforeseeable and undocumented absences within three months. Conversely, in Long Beach the employer cannot require a doctors’ note if the employee has accrued enough sick leave at the time of the request.
With so many different rules, it’s important to understand the nuances of each pertinent law and determine how the laws work together (or don’t) so you can write appropriate leave policies, establish procedures and guide your management teams.
If you do have to follow paid sick leave requirements, one of the main decisions you’ll need to make is whether your employees will accrue their paid sick time based on the number of hours they work each week or if they will draw from a bank of sick time that is frontloaded at the start of every year. If you have multiple locations, you’ll also need to determine if you will apply a single policy to every location or if you will apply different policies for each state or municipality that your employees work in.
Many paid sick leave laws (Rhode Island, Oregon, New Jersey, Michigan, Massachusetts, Maryland, California and Arizona) include “safe time” or “safe leave” provisions, which provide paid sick leave entitlements to employees affected by domestic violence and sexual assault. Under these laws, an employee may be allowed to take leave not only to get medical care but also to attend court proceedings, relocate, go to counseling appointments or receive services from a victim’s services group.
Employees are typically protected from any employer retaliation for asking for or actually using their sick leave hours. So it’s critical that your managers not only comprehend the laws and any procedures they’re required to follow when an employee submits a sick leave request, but also understand that any negative reaction to a request could be viewed as retaliatory in nature.
If you don’t already have one, you’ll need to invest in a system that tracks each employee’s hours worked in those locations that require paid sick time as well as monitor sick leave hours accrued if you use that method rather than frontloading hours. It’s important (and sometimes even the law) to also ensure that you provide your employees with the appropriate notices of their paid sick leave rights. And according to some states’ and jurisdictions’ laws, you’re required to give employees an accounting of their sick leave accrual and use information in their pay statements.
If all of these rules sound complicated and daunting, you shouldn’t have to go it alone. Paycor’s time and attendance systems can take the load off. And we’re staffed with experts whose sole job is to stay on top of ever-changing employment regulations.
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