Paid Sick Leave Trends
With the weather changing comes a major uptick in the amount of people out due to sickness. No one likes being sick – especially the people who have to accommodate for the sudden changes, like a scheduler. So, with the inevitable phone calls pouring in requesting sick leave, what does that mean for you?
Did You Know That Some States Passed Paid Sick Leave Laws?
So far, only five states and the District of Columbia have passed paid sick leave laws. However, more and more municipalities—most recently Los Angeles, San Diego, and Chicago—are passing ordinances that require employers to provide paid sick time. Paid sick leave is clearly a trend—one we can expect to continue. While each paid sick leave law has its own quirks and details, there are some commonalities that we have seen as more laws go into effect. Many are seeing this become more of a norm and one you should be preparing for.
What Are Some Trends In These Paid Sick Leave Laws?
1. Employer size may determine requirements. Due to the financial burden, all of these new legal requirements can put a strain on employers, so smaller employers are sometimes exempt or have more time to comply—sometimes, but not always. In Massachusetts and Oregon, for example, smaller employers can offer unpaid leave instead of paid time; but in California, employers of any size must offer paid leave.
2. The law will likely address time-tracking, accrual of sick time, and use of sick time. Though there are some exceptions, in many of the laws passed so far, employers can choose whether to front-load the entire amount for the year or to have employees accrue sick leave. In most cases, employees accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every thirty hours worked, similar to how some companies accrue vacation days. The total amount of time allowed for sick leave varies. Depending on the state and municipalities, it can vary, some from 24 hours, 40 hours, or 72 hours, to even three days. So far, every paid sick leave law requires employees to be able to use paid sick leave for their own care and for the care of family members.
3. Employees who take sick time are protected. Sick leave laws typically forbid employers from interfering with or retaliating against an employee using sick leave. The protections include:
- Prohibiting employers from taking disciplinary action or negative employment action for sick leave use.
- Prohibiting employers from requiring employees to find someone to cover their shift.
- Prohibiting employers from requiring an employee to make up hours taken as sick leave.
4. Clarifications sometimes follow the law’s effective date. As we well know, sometimes a law isn’t clear about the exact obligations for employers or their options when administering the program. Be prepared for laws and regulations to follow to clear up questions and ambiguity.
Paid sick leave is still a fairly new phenomenon, but it’s gaining momentum, especially at the municipal level. It will very likely be the norm someday, so it may be worth thinking about sooner rather than later, especially if your city or state has proposed this kind of regulation.
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