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Paid Sick Leave Regulations: What an Employer Has to Know

Paid Sick Leave

Only 11 states and Washington D.C. have laws requiring employers pay employees for a specific number of sick days each year. The 11 states are:

1. Arizona
2. California
3. Connecticut
4. Maryland
5. Massachusetts
6. Michigan
7. New Jersey
8. Oregon
9. Rhode Island
10. Vermont
11. Washington

In Connecticut and Maryland companies employing 50 or more people must pay them for sick leave time. Maine and Nevada require employers to provide paid time off employees can use when sick or for any reason. The law in Maine applies to companies with over 10 employees. It goes into in January, 2021. Nevada's sick leave pay law applies to companies that have 50 or more employees.

Cities With Sick Leave Compensation Laws

In San Antonio and Dallas, Texas, employers that have over 5 people on staff must pay them for their sick time. This law goes into effect in both cities for all businesses beginning August 1, 2021. These ordinances are being challenged in court. Employers in Chicago and all of Cook County, Illinois also must pay for their employees' sick days. So must employers in Duluth, Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota.

In New York City, companies that have five or more employees employed for hire that work over 80 hours a calendar year must pay them sick leave. The Westchester County, New York Earned Sick Leave Law requires companies that have five or more employees provide as much as 40 hours paid sick time each year. The cities of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania also recently passed sick leave pay laws. Neither city has said when the laws will go into effect.

A Growing, Sometimes Confusing, Trend

Laws mandating sick time pay fo employees is a growing trend in many jurisdictions. Some companies are subject to multiple sick leave pay laws that have differing requirements. This can be quite challenging and confusing to navigate. The key is to do their due diligence to get the information they need to prevent their companies from running afoul of the growing array of sick leave pay laws and requirements.

What Employers Should Know

The types of absences covered by sick leave pay laws vary by jurisdiction. Generally, the laws cover employees' absences for their or their family members' medical diagnosis, preventative care and mental and physical illness. In some cases, sick leave pay laws cover absences when employees seek assistance when they've been the victims of sexual assualt, domestic vioence and stalking. Employers must become familiar with the details of the sick leave pay laws to know exactly what's covered.

How Much Sick Leave Is Covered

The amount of sick leave employees can accrue each year varies from one jurisdiction to another. Some sick leave laws employ an accrual formula where a specific number of hours worked entitles workers to an hour of sick leave. In some juridictions employers can limit how many sick leave hours employees may accrue and use annually.

Sick Leave Rate Of Pay

The sick leave laws usually require employers to pay employees out on sick leave at their normal rate of pay which is determined according to specific rules and guidelines.

Unused Sick Leave

Many sick leave laws enable workers to carryover unused sick leave and add it to the total amount they have available the following year. However, in some jurisdictions there's a cap on how many hours of sick leave workers can carryover and accrue.

The Front-loading Method

In some jurisdictions, employers have the option to use the front-loading method rather than the accrual method to provide sick leave for employees. With the front-loading method, in January each year employers give their staff all the leave they are entitled to that year. In some jurisdictions, if employers use the freeloading method, they are not required to carryover unused sick leave from one year to the next.

Paid Time Off And Sick Leave

In some jurisdictions, if employers provide paid time off employees can use for any reason they want, they don't have provide paid sick days if the paid time off policy meets certain conditions. The paid time off must meet or exceed the amount of sick leave to which the employee is entitled under the sick leave laws and satisfy the sick leave pay law's use, accrual, carryover and other provisions. Some employers subject to multiple sick leave pay laws find paid time off to be a better option.

Departing Employees Unused Sick Leave Pay

Employers are not required to pay employees who are leaving the company for their unused sick leave under the sick leave laws in most jurisdictions. However, some states require employees to paid for all unused paid time off and vacation time accrued when they leave the company.

Sick Leave Law Compliance For Multiple Jurisdictions

If employees are covered by the sick leave laws from both state and local government, employers must coordinate compliance so it meets the requirements of both laws. When the laws conflict, the employers are generally required to give the employee the more generous policy with the greatest protection and provisions.

Requiring Proof Of Illness

Many sick leave laws entitle employers to ask for reasonable documentation proving the employee was ill when they took sick leave. However, several sick leave laws state the employee must be absent in excess of three consecutive days before the employer can ask for a documented reason for the sick leave. The documentation requested must be reasonable, the policy applied consistently and the employer follow all HIPPA rules related to requesting and protecting confidential employee health, medical and victim status documents and information.

Requiring Sick Leave Notice

Under many sick leave laws, employers can require employees provide reasonable notice of their plan to take foreseeable sick leave. Generally, when an employee's need for sick leave is unforeseeable, employers can require they provide notice of the reason for their absence as soon as it's practical to do so. The employee may be required to follow the regular procedures the company has in place for reporting unscheduled absences. The notice requirements have to comply with all applicable sick leave laws and be communicated to all employees as part of a written policy.

Returning To Work After Sick Leave

Sick leave laws usually state when employees return from sick leave they are entitled to be reinstated to the position they held or a similar one with equivalent employment terms and conditions, seniority, benefits and pay.

Covering Workers In Multiple Jurisdictions

Companies with employees in multiple jurisdictions must provide them with the paid sick leave mandated by the sick leave laws in the jurisdiction in which they work.

Know The Applicable Sick Leave Laws

It's the responsibility of each employer to know and understand the paid sick leave laws covering every employee on their payroll. Employers should carefully review the sick leave laws, requirements and protections for the workers on their payroll no matter the jurisdiction in which they work to ensure the company is in proper compliance.