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Understanding Paid Sick Leave Policies: What You Need to Know
Posted 7/25/2018
Author Jeniece Henson
 
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Businesses benefit when employees have access to paid sick days. When sick workers are able to stay home to recover, it lessens the risk of spreading illness to other employees, making workplaces healthier and employees more productive. Sick employees can obtain the medical care they need and recover faster, which helps them get back to work sooner and reduces your overall health care costs.

Although there are no federal laws mandating that employers are to provide paid sick leave, ten states (Arizona, California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington), the District of Columbia and many local jurisdictions throughout the country require that employers offer paid sick leave to their workforce.

Below are questions you should be asking as you design and implement your paid sick leave policy.

Define Employee Eligibility

Will you offer paid sick leave to full-time employees? Part-time employees? Will you have a waiting period or a “minimum hours worked” requirement to be eligible for paid sick leave? You will want to make sure your eligibility criteria matches that which has been established by state and local law.

Paid Sick Leave Accrual

You must decide how much sick leave an employee may accumulate. Some employers choose to provide a “lump sum” amount of sick leave at the beginning of a calendar or benefit year, while other policies allow leave to accrue in increments each pay period. Most paid leave laws specify which method of accrual is permissible and how much an employee must accrue each year. Sick leave is typically used in “hours” not “days,” based on an eight-hour work day. For example, an employee who accumulates 24 hours of sick leave has essentially three eight-hour work days of leave available. Additionally, you must decide how much unused accumulated time can be carried over from year to year, if any. If you allow employees to carryover unused sick leave, will you limit the amount of paid sick leave employees may accrue/use that next year? Will you pay out accrued sick leave when an employee is terminated or will the employee forfeit that time? These “use it or lose it” policies are lawful in most jurisdictions, but it is important to assess whether such a policy is right for your workforce.

Paid Sick Leave Usage

Under what conditions will an employee be allowed to take paid sick leave? Medical or dental appointments for the employee, the employee’s sick child, spouse or family member? A non work-related injury? What documentation will you require from employees who take paid sick leave? If the employee’s reason for requesting sick leave is covered under FMLA, will you require your employees to use all their accumulated sick leave before taking unpaid medical leave? Do you offer short-term disability and if so, how should this benefit be coordinated with your leave policy? These are all important questions to ask as you develop a compliant policy.

To Pay or Not to Pay

Many states that require larger employers to offer paid sick leave also require that small business at least offer unpaid sick leave. The rationale is that even a business with thin margins that cannot afford to pay employees who are not working should still offer unpaid leave as a matter of good policy. In jurisdictions where paid sick leave is not required, employers should evaluate whether to adopt an unpaid sick leave policy. Unpaid leave can encourage employees to take the time to get better before returning to work, limit the spread of communicable diseases and generate a sense of job security and satisfaction among in your workforce.

We Can Help

Please remember that the requirements vary from state to state. AlphaStaff can review your existing policy to ensure legal compliance and fine tune the policy for best practices. We can help you answer critical questions and assist with drafting a paid sick leave policy that conforms to applicable laws and with storage industry standards. 

You will have access to certified HR specialists that can provide support and alleviate your concerns, allowing you to focus on what you do best – growing your storage business.

To find out how we can help, contact Jeniece Henson, Vice President of Strategic Business Solutions, at JHenson@AlphaStaff.com or via telephone at 727-365-6722.

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